Monday 31 May 2010

modern swappers-want to join?

Want to be in a swap?  

Found this great group on Flickr- today is the last day to join.  

You have 3 months to prepare a swap including- sommodern fabric, a handmade item and something to decorate your sewing space.  
All details are on the Flickr link, look for Allie's details

Sunday 30 May 2010

Lovely Linens

Flying fresh out of the machine, todays collection of odd bits and bobs from the carboot, vintage unused linen tea towels and a couple of great cotton prints

Lovely linen thread bobbin with some lace ready for the front of the Pochee bag, great label

And a lovely linen bag ready to take to London, I am visiting the Quilt exhibition at the V&A on Wednesday, can't wait

Nearly broke my hands and my little sewing machine sewing through the interfacing and the layers but I'm pleased with the end result

The strap was removed from an old bag, slider and  rectangle ring from another and key clip (inside) from another

A bit of surprise lining and lots of pockets, nice.

Friday 28 May 2010

New look-ish blog

Had a little try out with a different background, a bit calmer, and tweaked the header- what do you think?

Thursday 27 May 2010

Essentials for Pattern Tracing

I have been doing a lot of tracing recently, I am making a bag alongside the tunic- I cannot work on one thing at a time, sometimes I feel my head will burst it is so full of what I want to do, the rest of me can't keep up.

The fabrics for this are cut and interfaced, almost ready to make.

Back to tracing.  I have found these tools to help:
Dura-bac board, a large folding grided cardboard mat, I picked this up years ago at the car boot but I sometimes see them in charity shops, great to put on the floor or a even a bed if you haven't a large table to spread out on.  You can also pin and cut fabric out and use it to layout quilt ideas.

The layout pad is great for pattern paper. You can get these at any art suppliers- look where the art students go. The pieces are small at A3 size but more manageable than a roll or big sheet, I tape them together as I go along.  You can see through the paper- ideal for tracing but a lot less slippy than greaseproof and tracing paper, also easier to rub out mistakes.  Talking of which, a propelling pencil keeps sharp and draws a steady removable line.

And a grader's set square is great for adding seam allowances- metric, all my quilting rules are in inches, no good for Japanese patterns.   It moves easily on the paper and the diagonal is great for bias binding.

Tuesday 25 May 2010

Pochee Waistcoat


I had no idea how hard it is to photograph yourself in a mirror.  All our mirror are car boot treasures with many imperfections.  When I cleaned them they looked smeary and it took me a while to work out - turn the flash off duh!  I did have doubts making a waistcoat, it is a borderline style item but I hope I'm on the right side of it.  My mum liked it and she is  a critical judge!  It was great to make an easy item just to get to grips with the instruction style.  I did make a toile (a faff but always worth doing before you cut into the good stuff) and it was massive so I took it in about 2 inched each side and altered the pattern.  This is made in a linen blend byFrench General for Moda - dream to sew with unlike 100% linen.

For the neck and armholes, I cut my own bias binding from an old Liberty skirt.  It is far easier to pin the fabric out flat, draw the diagonal lines for the binding using a graders square (big pattern cutters set square- invaluable tool) and a pencil and cut out with scissors than to use a quilting rule and a rotary cutter as the bias distorts so easily.

Thank you to commenter Lark who posted a great website ref  Japan Couture Addicts with lots of pics of Pochee and other Japanese pattern books and mags that other folks have made, handy for seeing if it will suit your size and shape.  There are also lots of translation lists and other helpful tips.  

Sunday 23 May 2010

Carboot- lacey

Weather has been so beautiful so I just knew the car boot would be good and I wasn't disappointed.  I managed to find lots of lacy finds.  A beautiful scalloped edged table cloth which is destined to become a petticoat or top in the Pochee style- I am a bit obsessed by this mag at the moment.

Another lacy linen thing- macassar maybe?

Both only 50p each!  Bargain.  Then a bag of lace

Right at the end I found someone who had cleared her shop out, ribbon and Kaffe Fassett turquoise striped organic cotton, fantastic!

Last weekend picking were fewer but I did get some cute tins

Poodle tin now has pins in and the pastille tin is now a bedroom ( made by Lula, she asked me to point out it is not yet finished)- inspired by Hesta (see her lovely ones at Folksy)

And finally cruets

One is now a needle holder and the lidded apple will become a pin cushion.

Don't be fooled,  I know this looks groovy and fortuitous but most weeks I come away with very little or plain old tat!

Exeter Handmade Home Fair+Sunday stash!

I had such a lovely girly day with Lula meeting friends talking to stall holders, overloading my eyes with lovely things.  I collected my Anna Maria Horner Little Folks Voile from Jo on the Saints and Pinners stall

and added a couple of FQs by Kaffe Fassett and Amy Butler (I think)

and was slightly overwhelmed by so many beautiful things in one place.   I saw Hesta from Green-Glamour who gave me a lovely pressie for helping get her blog going.  She was very generous.

I have been stocking up on fabric recently,now it's time to make stuff...

Friday 21 May 2010

Fabric Friday

Clockwise from left:  Sissy (pink) Grayson Perry for Liberty-form Clothkits, Liberty bias tape in Poppy and daisy, and Martha Grace, Sentences Dick and Jane by Michael Miller from Cornwall Fabrics, Elizabeth Rose and Mrs March dots Lecien from Patchwork Corner.  All the links can be found left of this post where I have listed lovely UK fabric and sewing shops .

All arrived this week.  The Sissy fabric is even better than I anticipated, I even bought 2 metres, for me this is extravagance! I have been coveting this for some time.  Destined for clothing I think...

and the winner is...

WooLynn, the random number generator chose you, CONGRATULATIONS!  I have sent an email.  To everyone else who entered, a great big...

I was completely overwhelmed by the number of comments, the effort people made and those of you who became followers- Thank you again.   My hands are not capable of responding to 166 emails just yet- it has been a busy week of clicking-  but I read every comment and I can't wait to try your great reading suggestions, I am hoping to compile a list just incase any of you want ideas for your next book.  I will definitely take part in the next giveaway, looking forward to it already.  I am also hoping to do a free pattern for the purse I gave away, if I can master how to get it onto my blog, that's me busy this weekend.  

Saturday 15 May 2010


As part of the Sew Mama Sew Giveaway day I have made a little linen stacked coins pouch/purse to giveaway.

It has a gentle flex frame and a popper inside to secure it and is big enough for embroidery scissors and a tape measure or whatever you chose to put in it.

To win this purse you need to leave a comment on this post recommending a good read.  The last book I really enjoyed was Lorrie Moore,  'A Gate at the Stairs', I need something new to read that I can put on to my e-reader.  Post your title and any other comment you would like to make, follow me if you like what you see and please make sure I can that there is a way of emailing you on your profile so I can contact you if you are the winner.  Giveaway entries finish at the end of May 20th.  I can ship internationally so open to you all.  Winner will be chosen by random number generator .  

Good Luck!

Friday 14 May 2010

How to ....Tracing Japanese Magazine Pochee patterns

I am just getting to grips with deciphering the instructions in Pochee Vol 7.  I am breaking myself in gently by making a waistcoat, mainly as an exercise in understanding the diagrams and pattern pieces   before I start one of the tunics.

This pattern is one size.  The other patterns are M or L and there is a box with measurements so you know which you are.  They are based on a relatively slender Japanese frame.  Height is 160cm for all sizes, I am 164cm so for other garments I may need to lengthen hems/ sleeves etc.   The magazine works in the traditional Japanese way which for a western reader means from back to front and the instructions and diagrams scan right to left.  The first pages show the main feature garments in the mag, beautifully styled and pics/info about the designers.  There are detailed colour photo instructions how to make of a basic version of the main design of that issue and some key techniques that feature in many of the designs.  The instructions are all together in the middle and the pattern pieces are on big fold out sections ready to be traced off.  At the back there are more pictures of garments.   The photos of garments you can sew will have a How To Make caption and a page ref which will take you to the right page for instructions, pattern layout etc. 

In the instructions  there is the page refernce for the photo of the garment in a shaded circle (top left).  you can see the shape of the pattern pieces in the layout diagram in the bottom left.  On the far right there is info about fabric quantities although this is easier to read in the layout picture.  There is also a number in square brackets, in this case [20]  which will identify the pattern pieces on the fold out section,  and a number preceding it, to identify which fold out section to use.   Each fold out section has a key printed on it:

Look for the fold out section with your number in square brackets e.g. [20] and the pattern pieces will be printed on that sheet.  you might have to look at it for a while to find it- there will be the number next to the pattern piece.  You can see it in pic below half way down the right edge.

I tape layout paper over the top secured with little bits of masking.  Japanese patterns have no seam allowances so you need to add these.  I added 1cm for shoulder and side seams.  Instructions for the size of other hems, seams etc are on the layout.

On the waistcoat pattern pieces there are numbers 2 and 3 in circles with a line pointing, these mean add 3cm or 2 cm when you trace the pattern on these sections.  Sorry if I am stating the obvious but sometimes you need to spell it out!

In the layout pic above there is also a diagram for cutting bias strips, 2 strips 4cm wide 29cm long for the waistcoat ties. Two strips 3cm wide 65cm long for arm hole binding and 2 strips 3cm long which will join together to make a 120cm strip for the long neck edge- I think that is right!

I will cut these out and assembly a toile version over the weekend.  I'll post more on this next week as I get to grips with it.

Thursday 13 May 2010

A sneaky peek at the giveaway purse I am making for the Sew mama Sew giveaway 17th May.

Tuesday 11 May 2010

I am going to try Japanese clothes patterns as my next immediate project.  I have made a lot of clothes before and pattern adaptation and blocking but these are something new and need a bit of decoding work.  I have a favourite which I am going to make as a toile first just to check on fit.

I have been so tempted by all the discussion and photos on Flickr and blogs by Anna Maira Horner's new cotton voile Little Folks prints.  They are still hard to get in the UK but Saints and Pinners who are also based in Devon, are stocking some and have kindly sent 7 samples.

Last year Heather Ross's Far and Away fabric line seemed to be the big summer hit, I succumbed to that and I think I will have to yield to this as well.

I am thinking of Diamond Mine sky for the main body of the top and 4 square in Berry for the bias trim. Which is your favourite?

Saturday 8 May 2010

Birdy Quilt

Just over a year in the making, my relationship with this quilt has been variable to say the least, but now it is finished I love it.

My inspiration came from a Flickr picture a quilt is nice.  I had just started to return to sewing after years in exile (RSI) and had discovered Moda pre cuts and craft on the internet.   It sounds naive but the new craft boom had passed me by until I picked up the first issue of Sewhip mag and found all the websites, blogs, free patterns, tutorials, etc.  It was a revelation how much was out there.   The disappearing nine patch was an easy pattern to start with and I used this tutorial.  Originally I was going to do a quilt very similar to the original Flickr pic, but I realised after making a little table runner that my hands couldn't deal with the weight and manipulation of handling a whole quilt on the machine so I found Quilting-on -the-go (method in this post) in Sewhip  and designed the quilt with sashing border squares so each bit could be handled individually, so inadvertently I designed this pattern.  

Nice weeds in the garden there.  Our courtyard is small, I didn't realise it would be so hard to take a pic of the whole quilt!  

Being a first quilt there are many errors and it was a steep learning curve, yet once washed and dried a lot of bits that really bothered me have evened out and I can't believe I did it all.  The back looks a lot more regular and even than it did when I was sewing it.

Binding is hard.  I had bound a few little things before and I couldn't face hand sewing so I tried Red Pepper Quilts method but I wasn't neat or accurate enough to completely pull it off.  I ended up with the last stage of stitching on the right side and controlling the fabric with lots of pins and scissor points.


Looks OK in the end and binding, however difficult, can really lift the end result.  I love stripy binding and I love layers of folded binding.

As a thank you to the crafting blog world and all its positive and generous inspiration and energy I am going to do a give away next weekend linking with the Sew Mama Sew giveaway starting May 17th. It will only be a little bundle of fabric squares but you are welcome to come and take part!

Sewing, sewing, sewing... it is nice to be back...

Friday 7 May 2010


Lula is back happy and tired.  I am proud of her, she coped well away from home and was relaxed and only slightly emotional on her return.  And, the Nest quilt- no name yet- was ready for her, she sat on the sofa and wrapped herself up and settled down to watch TV.    I sewed through election day afternoon and finished the labeling listening to the results this morning.  I'll post more on it over the weekend and some better pics...

Reverse is better than I thought, my perspective has changed on this quilt many times.  More on that another time.

Rather conveniently the two magazines I had been waiting for arrived today, ready for the next project, apart from the other 3 quilts that are in the back of my mind.

Thursday 6 May 2010

The house is strangely quiet.  Lula is away on her first residential, only 3 days but it has thrown me out of kilter.  The nest quilt will be finished for Friday when she returns so I have been prepping the binding.  I have had the fabric in my head for ages but I had forgotten it was a long narrow strip less than 12 inches wide so I have been cutting and cutting to make sure I have enough.  I must've lost track (or my mind) as there is easily enough to bind another quilt left over so I rolled it up and kept if for another time.

I must have joined over 30 strips but as I zig zag it together I am starting to see the end,