Wednesday, May 30, 2012

iPad cover

My aunt was so thrilled with the typewriter messenger bag when she saw it that I decided to use the leftover fabric to make an cover or a 'pocket' for her iPad.
 I used the coral Kona solid for lining:
 Look how carefully I cut the fabric of the flap to match the main pocket. Considering how little fabric I had left, this was no mean feat. And I love the little heart button that I found in Hickey's in Galway.
BUT... it doesn't fit the iPad. Boo. I'm going to have to re-do the side-seams.
The fabric print is by Melody Miller and bought from The Village Haberdashery.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Linen Wrap Dress with Shawl Collar

I've had this pattern for a while now. I started it in my dressmaking class in Grafton Academy 5 weeks ago but the good weather we've been having these past few days motivated me to get the final button-hole done so I could wear it to work tomorrow.
It's held together with only one button really. I think there might have been an elastic or something inside but I didn't follow that part of the pattern.
There's a second button and a complicated loop detail. In this picture too, you might see the extra dart I had to sew to fix the excess fabric around the chest/neck.
But if I move too much it doesn't sit well so I'm going to have to hold it with a safety pin tomorrow until I add a secret internal button to hold it together better:
The back fits nicely:
Overall, I am disappointed with this dress. It didn't fit me well around the shoulder and needed a dart added. The front flaps needed to be hemmed because they were hanging loosely otherwise. 
It's funny, when I started out buying patterns I was careful not to choose something too fitted because of course individual measurements will differ; somehow I forgot that note-to-self when I bought this one... and the proof is in the pudding.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Cut-up Couture

A girl in my dress-making class leant me a Japanese pattern book of hers: Cut-Up Couture: Edgy Upcycled Garments to Sew by Koko Yamase.
I bought a man's XL sweatshirt, and my brother gave me a L shirt that doesn't fit him... and I've made myself an "interesting" jumper and a halter-neck top. Both quirky and wearable.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Sorting buttons

Highlights are:
This red button. It's quite large. I'd nearly design an outfit around it!

These beautiful little white pearl-like buttons. They have a really nice weight. Old style.

These gold buttons are a nice colour as gold buttons go:

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

"London" Bag

I was in Murphy Sheehy's fabric shop a few weeks ago and, out of the corner of my eye, spotted some London fabric. It stuck with me. I went back and bought a metre of it... it's 1.8m wide!
I'm such a shocking newbie at all this fabric purchasing and sewing.
But look what I made:
A bag. A "tote". I lined it in a blue fabric bought from John Joyce's in Navan. Not sure really what the fabric is. I made the blue skirt out of it too. It's heavy, linen-y, like overalls!
I used a pattern that was handed out at a free sewing demonstration in Hickey's a year or so ago. Well, I mostly used that pattern... I made up the attaching-the-handles-part myself. And broke the sewing machine in the process. It was spitting out thread at terrible tension. But I replaced the thread and bobbin and took the needle out and put it back in again and I think the sewing machine has recovered.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Figure 8 Scarf #1 Take#2

I have re-made the first Figure 8 Scarf that I made! I had bought the Anna Maria Horner fabric and voile scarf cuts from The Village Haberdashery. For the second scarf I made, I didn't use the voile but bought a silkier lining fabric from a local shop. The colour matched the Zagzig Garnet velveteen as well so I decided to remake the first scarf.
I am so glad I bought these scarf fabrics and did these projects. I learned a lot as a beginner seamstress.
Practice on sewing maching

  • straight stitching
  • feeding the fabric in a straight line
  • sewing two fabrics of different textures

Little sewing techniques:

  • starting the seam a little in from the end in order to have a hem to turn in left over (that's a difficult sentence to make sense of! See Anna Maria's scarf-making instructions)
  • hand-stitching the "hem"
And as a result of all that learning, I have two beautiful scarves to present to a friend or family member.

Upcycled Skirt

I had this black velvet dressy skirt languishing in my wardrobe since I bought it.
I removed the floral panel and the velvet 'flap' which made a faux-wrap-skirt of it. And removed the netting at the bottom. And re-sewed the side seam.
Let's see if I wear it now!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Beignet Skirt in the Making

I bought some Colette and Sewaholic patterns recently from After my skirt audit, I longed to make the Beignet skirt. I thought the high-waist would overcome the top-matching and draughty-waist problems I have and the fitted shape would suit my figure.

So I went to Hickey's on Henry Street, and searched through the remnants basket (I had a few fabric ideas for various projects that I was searching for). And found this fabric which was very reasonably priced at €1.48 - a mistake maybe - and the receipt shows some information about it. Without the receipt, all I'd know was the length and price seeing as it came from the remnant basket.
It is 59% Polyester and 41% Cotton. I've since learned that "Cairo" is a home furnishings fabric. Does this matter?
Firstly, with only 1.48m, I was a bit tight on fabric and had to cut the front facing panels from two smaller pieces and sew them together. That seems to have worked fine.
Secondly, the fabric is fraying like crazy. So I used bias tape on every seam. This was a ridiculous decision really, now that I see it written in black and white.

Thirdly, the fabric is not pressing well for me. It's too thick, I think. And too polyester-y maybe.
At this point, as a learner-sewer, I'm at my wits end. I feel like throwing in the towel and abandoning all projects. Luckily, I've got a sewing class on Monday next and that will get me back on track.
As to this project, there's some things I love about it. The pockets:
The shape. This was really brought home to me when I saw other people's lovely creations on the Colette Patterns flickr group.
 There was one particularly tough part in the pattern where the facing had to be sewn to the lining:
The pattern is beautifully presented. The instructions are in book form with a slot on the inside back cover for the pattern pieces. I think I was very keen to get started because of how lovely the pattern is. Now I just feel really disheartened. I can't imagine making buttonholes in this fraying fabric. It brings home to me the importance of fabric. Choosing it carefully is half the battle.
I'm creative but I'm not imaginative and that's why up to know I've had success with my projects because I've used the fabric and patterns together suggested by others that were tried and tested. I don't like failure! Trying and failing.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Skirt Audit

I took all the skirts out of my wardrobe, threw them into this basket.
And, one by one, took them out to look at them; to "do an audit".
I was surprised that I only have 1 skirt for day-to-day wear. All my other skirts are dressy or evening or dress-up.
  • There are 8 skirts
  • The majority of the skirts are A-Line. Which must be a style that suits me! See the benefits of doing a wardrobe audit? 
  • I think that the reason I don't have many wearable daytime skirts is that they have to match tops. It can be hard to find good tops to go with skirts but also I don't like the draught that you can have at the base of your back where the top meets the skirt. With trousers I tend to wear tunic tops, or high-waisted trousers. Learning and discovering with this audit!

Skirt appropriate for work-wear

Skirt made from tweedy fabric (20% wool, 75% polyester, 5% viscose) with 'over-layer' (100% polyester).

The Crow Skirt

Bought cheaply in Monsoon as a dress, I cut off the strapless bodice and added a large waistband. It's fun as a jokey outfit. I wore it once to a garden party... but it is black! Not the most appropriate for garden parties or weddings.

Choir Skirt

This is a skirt I wear to choral performances when i'm singing. It's cotton so doesn't get too hot in a crowd and has an elastic high waistband which hugs and supports the diaphragm.
It is much admired by fellow choristers because it has ruffles/gathers but was bought as a bargain at the January sales.

Evening Skirts

"Graduation" Skirt

I wore this skirt for my graduation from university but have not found an appropriate occassion since!


When I was a grunger teenager, I thought it was cool to have a lacy bottom to my long skirts. Although I eventually found a lacy-bottomed petticoat and bought it, I can't remember ever wearing it.

Velvet faux-wrap

The label says "Una" but I can't find any websites for designers or skirt-makers called Una because the Marks and Spencers brand Per Una gets in the way.
There was a panel running down the side 'flap' of this velvet skirt but I found it impossible to match and have ripped it off. I think i'm going to rip the flap off entirely, and the netting at the bottom and have it as a simple A-line, 2 panel skirt.

Skirts are usually what beginners are recommended to start with in sewing classes. I made two skirts and have plans to make a few more before progressing on to more complex garments. This audit has helped me understand my relationship with skirts.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Figure 8 scarf #2

After my not-so-satisfactory first attempt... I decided to buy a silkier lining fabric for my second Anna Maria Horner Figure 8 Scarf.
The silkier fabric works really well.

Typewriter messenger bag

Another project inspired by The Village Haberdashery's blog. Quite clever really, making interesting suggestions of bags and clothes to be made from their fabrics! Very tempting.
The fabric is from Melody Miller's Ruby Star Shining collection: Typewriters Blue.
I was so pleased that cutting the fabric of the front flap to centre on a typewriter worked out! Worth the extra head-scratching! I made the bag according to a free tutorial on mmmcrafts.
Originally, I had ordered a Kona Cotton Solid in Amber which would have matched the centre stripe on the typewriter but I was happy to have changed my mind to the Coral colour. Here's the inside pocket (yep, I lined up a typewriter again!):
I loved working with the Melody Miller fabric. It felt lovely. Kind of a canvas-feel to it.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Itty Bitty Dress for Rose

I got the inspiration for this project from a blogpost by The Village Haberdashery and bought the fabrics there too. My first little niece is just 2 months old.
The pattern can be found on Made by Rae. She calls it The Itty Bitty Dress.
The fabric is by Cloud9:
  • Maman – Chinoiserie
  • Nursery Basics – Gingham Shell
It was my first time making piping. It should have been 5mm but I think I only bought 2.5mm (in Hickey's Home Focus in Carrickmines which have quite an impressive stock of crafts products and some dressmaking and quilting fabrics). The bias binding and the fabric for the piping should have been cut on the bias but I couldn't bring myself to slice a diagonal through the fabric and so I cut it on the straight.
I'm worried it won't fit her!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Figure 8 Scarf

The fabric and pattern for this project are both by Anna Maria Horner.
The fabrics are:
  • Loulouthi Velveteens - Zagzig Garnet
  • Voile Solid Pumpkin
I purchased them as "scarf cut" from The Village Haberdashery.

I am a very harsh critic... of myself more than anybody. And there are a few comments I'd make:
  • is the voile silky enough?
  • is the velveteen too hard or will it soften with use?
  • the length I started with was 185cm (72") long and for me, who likes my scarves wrapped close around my neck, this leaves a long bottom end to the figure 8!
I'm not sure how to proceed because I have another scarf like this to make in different fabrics.
Should I 
  • get silkier lining?
  • cut the fabric shorter?
  • not make a "figure 8" scarf but leave it as a normal scarf?
Sigh... I just don't know.
...I should add, though,... that it has been much admired!

Simple Drawstring Bag

I thought I could teach myself sewing.
Drawstring bags... I thought I could do one of them very easily.
But all my attempts were failing. Something so simple was defeating me. There was one little key that I was missing.
This winter, living with my parents in the countryside with not much to do, I went to an adult education evening class in a nearby secondary school called "make your own clothes" and I picked up some basics. And the confidence to try a drawstring bag again.
Here's the key... a nip with the scissors where the cord-casing folds down.
The tutorial I used is on
The fabric is 100% white cotton and 100% White Cotton Gütermann thread.
You may be able to see faint little butterflies on the white fabric? They are Sukie Iron-on transfers.
This particular drawstring bag is going to be used as a travelling laundry bag! Because I'm commuting from the countryside to work and I stay overnight in Dublin one or two nights a week.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Village Haberdashery

A bundle of fabric I'd ordered from The Village Haberdashery over the weekend arrived yesterday morning.
I have plans for 6 projects!
The exciting typewriter print is by Melody Miller.
The four interchangeable fabrics on the right are pre-cut scarf lenghts. The patterns are velveteen and designed by Anna Maria Horner.
The pinks and gentle pattern on top right is by Cloud9.

In greater detail, here is the information:
1. Loulouthi Velveteens Scarf Cut - Clippings Amethyst
2. Voile Solids Scarf Cut - Plum
3. Loulouthi Velveteens Scarf Cut - Zagzig Garnet
4. Voile Solids Scarf Cut - Pumpkin
5. Nursery Basics - Speckle Shell
6. Maman - Chinoiserie
7. Nursery Basics - Gingham Shell
8. Ruby Star Shining - Typewriters Blue
9. Kona Cotton Solids - Amber

Thank you to Annie at  The Village Haberdashery  for her help and kindness. They say old style customer service can't be found in shops today like it used to be, well that is not true about this online shopkeeper!