Wednesday, 29 May 2013


I haven't seen any other sewing bloggers talking about this and probably for good reason, but I wanted to write at least one post about onesies. They've been in the news every now and again because some silly people go round town in them and look kind of ridiculous.

I'd never wear one to the bus stop but my boyfriend brought over his awesome panda onesie last night and I slept in it as pajamas. He bought it to wear at a comic convention because his costume arrived after he left and it's so amazingly soft and warm that I could just curl up in a little onesie cocoon and sleep for a couple of months.

Maybe it's one of those things that would be simpler just to buy, but I've decided that at some point I want to make one for myself. I have some suitable black fabric in my stash and if I want some other colours then I can just pop down to the fabric shop. They seem to have almost everything there.

You can get them made to look like loads of different animals, from dogs to dinosaurs, but I won't be bothering with that. At least for my first one.


The other type, apart from the "cool" ones which I don't count, are the cutie ones. Imagine a three month old girl all grown up but still wearing the same clothing. They're more likely to have feet because they aren't even pretending to be grown up and if you only wear them round the house than why not?


Would any of you make a onesie? Would you even wear one?

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Why Does It Always Rain On Me?

Anyone who knows me will know that I'm a cheapskate to the bone. If I can save 10p on noodles then I'll walk a mile. It's not like I'm living hand to mouth, I'm just a cheapskate.

On the other hand, there are some things you shouldn't skimp on. Your loved ones, because they're worth every penny, your glasses, because incorrect prescriptions only make things worse, walking shoes, because you'll feel it if you don't, and the one I want to talk about today.

I firmly believe that you can't skimp when you're
buying an umbrella. I've made the mistake one too many times of going for the cheapest one I can find then getting annoyed at myself when it blew out and broke on the second or third use.

For the last two years I've been using the one in my profile picture and I love it. I bought it at the Derby Pride Festival just a few minutes before it started raining and it's worked beautifully since then, but it's getting a bit battered (mostly because it got some boxes put on it while I was moving house).

So now I'm on the hunt for a new umbrella. It has to be hardy, big enough to give my torso and legs some protection and make me just a little bit happier on a sad, grey day.

I'll keep my eyes open for something in the shops, but I suspect I'll end up turning to the internet for what I want, and that comes with it's own risks. When you buy something without seeing it you don't really know what quality it is? Do you think any of them offer to take it back if breaks in the first month? If I end up spending £30 on one of the really nice ones then they'd better!

Oh, well. Of all the problems in the world that isn't a big one.


Monday, 27 May 2013

New Jacket Inspiration

I'm always looking for new sources of inspiration. I don't know that much about style in general and my style in particular so it's great to see something to bring about new ideas.

I was looking at suits on google when I came across a Lilli Ann jacket and I fell in love.

There isn't a lot of information about Adolph Schuman or his designs (the name comes from his wife Lillian) but there are quite a few pictures and a blogger or two. I've been reading through the posts over at Dividing MomentsVintage Vixen and Pintucks.

I'm no where near skilled enough to make my own and originals seem to start at £300. Looks like it'll stay a dream for now.


Sunday, 26 May 2013

Pencil skirts


I'm not a big pencil skirt wearer, haven't been in years. I've spent most of my life either in school uniform or lounging at home in jeans or, I'm a little embarrassed to say, pajamas.

I've only owned one that I can remember and if I still have it then it doesn't fit.

Before now I haven't really had the confidence to wear skirts. Clothes were for keeping out the cold and I just threw on whatever was easiest. Plus, I've never been very confident about my weight and preferred clothes that would swamp me rather than show off my body.

In the next few weeks I'm going to be making my first pencil skirt. Partly because of changes in my tastes and partly because the pencil skirt pattern block is the pattern that is the basis of all other skirt patterns.

If you want to make a pencil skirt then there's a lot of information online and you can look at the old sew along over at A Fashionable Stitch.

Friday, 24 May 2013

Where Have I Been?

I've had a busy week and I haven't been sewing, but you've probably realized that. It's driving me crazy but I'm finally close to being ready for my boyfriend to move in on the 31st.

I'm a little bit crazy. I have high functioning autism and I sometimes have trouble spending too much time with people for too long. I should have expected it to happen earlier but on Thursday I had a mild breakdown from not getting enough time on my own to recharge.

It's not that big of a deal, really. As long as I can arrange my alone time I'll be fine. Me and Chris are talking about it and once the craft room is sorted out I can in there if I need time.

When you have two people in the house it's a lot easier to care about food, as well. Cooking for one is a lot more tedious than cooking for two and it finally seems worth the effort. It helps that Chris actually enjoys tidying and cleaning. (Or he says so anyway. I'm still a little dubious)

I've also gotten some new glasses. A popular glasses retailer in England offers two for one so I got two quite different pares to match with different outfits. Ones stylish black wire and the other's a layer of pink plastic sandwiched between black. I tried to get my boyfriend to take a photo of me in each of them but he spent fifteen minutes fiddling with the camera but it was too dark anyway.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Why I Haven't Been Sewing

I haven't been sewing for what feels like ages.

I've spent the last few days trying to catalog my fabric stash and the pile is now taller than I am. The rim of top box is at the level of my chin and I've still got a load of stuff to add. If it doesn't reach the ceiling I'll be surprised.

I have a problem when it comes to buying fabric. I buy without a clear plan in mind and sometimes get overcome by the idea that if some is good then more must obviously be better. I'm a hoarder at heart and struggle with letting things go.

I've decided to clean up because I might be getting a room mate soon in the form of my boyfriend. He'll be out on his ear at the end of the school year and it seemed like a workable solution. I'll just have to train him to put DVDs back in the right cases and we'll be set.

Normal crafting should resume soon. The spare room is becoming a workroom instead of a junk room so we can both use it and I'm planning to have a work space set up by June.

Sunday, 19 May 2013


Some of you might remember the accessories contest I talked about entering on Pattern Review a little while ago. I was planning to make a red dress in poly-cotton to enter but with the two holidays I took and life in general I didn't even get the pattern pieces cut out.

To be fair, I wasn't really prepared for it. I didn't do any preparation before the contest started and I wasn't exactly quick off the starting block. I only chose it because it was the best fit out of the ones starting soonish.

I learned a bit from it that I can take into my next attempt. I learned the importance of preparation, that I shouldn't leave anything to the last minute, and to not beat myself up about it if I don't do as well as I wanted.

I'm thinking of entering the Fabric Stash Contest, also over at Pattern Review, and using some of my home made patterns for that. I'll have ten days to make some up and I don't have much work to do at the moment. The best thing about this challenge is that I have such a ridiculously big stash. Even if I only do a little bit of sewing I'm winning in a way.

The person who won last year sewed about 100 yards, so maybe there will be a lot of circle skirts and full skirted dresses in my future? I think I have enough fabric.

Friday, 17 May 2013


I've been thinking about hoodies a lot lately. It's cold enough that you need to wear something if you want to go out but too hot for a big coat. It's the weather for a thin coat or a jacket, but I haven't worked on my jacket since the very start of this blog and I don't think I'm ready to make a coat.

In my teens I lived in hoodies. I didn't have a lot of confidence and I was kind of porky. I thought they hid my podge, but I know now they just made me look bigger. (It didn't help that I was usually wearing second hand ones from my brothers.)

I do believe that hoodies can be as flattering as jackets if they're cut right and the right size, it's just that they usually aren't. The style of hoodie I inhabated like an agraphobic hermit crab is the basic black sack with a band logo on the front and usually no zip, but searching on google and etsy has opened my eyes to the plethora of different styles out there.

This one has to be my favorite on etsy at the moment. It's based off of clothing in a video game. I love the necklace that clips across the front and it's a really flattering cut compared to most. It seems like to get a good cut you usually have to go with zippers, but I've seen it done without one.

Because of their shape hoodies are the go to garment for people who want a blank slate to work on, and some of the things people come up with are pretty damn cool. I know it's a ripoff of a cartoon, but I want this Totoro hoodie so bad. It looks fun to hang around the house in and go to events in. Maybe less appropriate for going to the supermarket though.

This one's simpler, but you could definitely wear it out and about without feeling embarrassed. I'm not an expert, but I think it's based on a hoodie worn by a cartoon character in a music video about an editing software? I'm a little confused myself.

This is the kind of hoodie that I'm probably going to end up making for spring and autumn. It looks like it's just made of a thin jersey knit fabric or t-shirt fabric. It's probably wearable as a long sleeved top in the hotter months, or even a sleeveless one if you make it that way.


I talked to my boyfriend about hoodies, and he says he's a fan of hooded shirts. He's got one or two, but he might get a bit pissed if I took one apart to see how it was made. Maybe if he's good I might track down, or even make, a pattern.
Have a look at the music video, see what you think.

Sleeve Failure

I had a go at drafting a sleeve since I last posted and it went quite well, up to a point. It's mostly just a bit of maths. Nothing you can't do with a simple calculator or just pen and paper.

It was going fine, but I've already mentioned that my block isn't quite the same proportions as the one in the book. I should have guessed that the width of the sleeve would be different. My sleeve block was wide compared to my bodice block so I didn't leave enough room and my lines fell of the edge.

On the bright side, I'm starting to see that all blocks look different, even if they come from the same basic instructions. As long as it fits when I put it on it'll all work out okay. I don't know if it actually will, but I'll find out soon enough.

I went out with my boyfriend today for all you can eat sushi today and he's come home with me to spend the night so tomorrow morning I'm probably going to take his measurements if he'll let me. He's a bit delicate about his weight, but we're planning to diet and go to the gym together so fingers crossed we can loose weight together.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

My First Proper Pattern Drafting Project

I had quite a bit of time on my hands yesterday, so I broke out my copy of Metric Pattern Cutting and the measurements I roped my mother into taking when I visited a little while ago and drew up a simple fitted dress pattern. It looks scarily small and the arm hole looks a funny shape compared to how I remember them but we'll see how it turns out.

I've still got some work to do and I have to widen the hips because I'm a different shape to the one used in the book but I'm fine with that. It's going to be a bit short because I decided to just go from one side of the paper to the other. I'm hoping adding full sleeves will keep it decent.

I'm not sure whether to put on one or two piece sleeves, but I'm thinking one piece will be quicker. I can always go back and draft a new version if I need to.

Have any of you guys ever tried making your own patterns? How did it turn out? I'm a little bit tempted to post my measurements on here for posterity.

Monday, 13 May 2013

Concurring My White Whale, Part 1

We all have sewing processes that we have problems with. Something that chills us to the core, something that fills us with dread, maybe even something that could make us look at a project and think, "Maybe I'll put this to the side and do something more fun instead." For me, that process is iron on interfacing.

I've never really been able to get to grips with it, partly because I've never been shown how to use it and partly because I usually want to get it over with so quickly that I just get it sort of staying on and sew everything in place.

You may be saying to yourself, "But Ginnie, didn't your red tunic have interfacing in it?" because you, my reader, are perceptive. It did have interfacing, but I didn't put it in. I did most of the work on that top at my paternal grandmothers, a fabric artist, and she got a bit fed up of me waffling and put it in herself. It still didn't stick. And it shrank a bit.

I decided that the point of this blog is to help me practice and get better, so I went online and found a tutorial to show me how to do it right.

 My first attempt was less than amazing. I'd bought a sheet of white interfacing (we'll come back to that later) at Abakhan when I was out with my boyfriend and cut two pieces for the back and front yoke.

I had trouble figuring out which side had the glue on, so I went with the one that looked most likely and lay them that side down on top of my bias cut yoke pieces. I wet some spare cloth and lay it over one of them so that I could press the iron down without getting glue on my iron or burning anything.

I noticed the first signs that things were going on strait away but because I didn't really have much experience I just went with it. Glue started seeping through the scrap cloth and sticking everything together.

When I picked up the cloth I found the yokes were stuck to the bottom and the interfacing had disintegrated all that was left behind was the glue, even on parts that hadn't been touched by the iron.

I decided to turn the other piece of interfacing over and try again but that turned out the same.

I think I might have figured out what went wrong and, reader, it's all my fault. I think I may have picked up water soluble fabric. It's not the end of the world but by that point I was kind of fed up, so I cut out two new yoke pieces and went to bed.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Do You Sew For Other People?

(ironing board source)
I wasn't able to do my interfacing yesterday, partly  because my ironing board broke and partly because I panicked about my boyfriend coming over for the first time. My house is full of junk and dust so I spent a couple of hours cleaning the kitchen and the bathroom and tidying up in general. There's nothing like fear of humiliation to get me motivated.

I inherited my ironing board from my mum when I first moved out four years ago. She never used it anymore, but I mostly left it propped up against the wall. When I got back into sewing I pulled it out of retirement, but couldn't find the cover so I ended up stretching one that was too small over it. Then something broke and now it won't stand up on it's own.

(matching clothing source)
I'll get a new ironing board some time this week or the next, but until then I wanted to talk about other people. The people in your life and who you love, and more specifically, their clothes. Have you ever sewn for someone else? Would you?

I've only ever sewn for myself, but I wouldn't draw the line there. I'd love to sew shirts for my boyfriend, make dresses for my mother, even knit a jumper for my father (he's been wearing ones made by his mother for 30 years, and they're finally falling apart with the help of moths).

I might have to get a bit better at fitting and construction, but one day I'll be popping out clothes for my whole family.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Pucker Up!

My blue top that I started when I was at my parents house is starting to look something like a top, though less so in this picture. As you'll remember, I finished sewing the ties by hand yesterday and decided to do the rest with my Brother PX-110. It's a heck of a lot faster, but I noticed when I was doing it that the fabric seamed to pucker the same as when I did it with a good old needle and thread.

I tried twiddling the nobs and adjusting everything I could think of but it stayed the same. I guess I'll have to dig out the manual tomorrow.

It doesn't really matter. It's probably going to become a set of PJs if I ever get around to making a pair of shorts to go with it and everything's a learning experience if it doesn't go right. At least I can say I was doing something.
I also cut out the interfacing that I'd somehow forgot about when I was cutting the fashion fabric. I've never been able to get iron on interfacing to work right but fingers crossed I can master it with the help of youtube and google. I'm going to do a whole post about it tomorrow, though, so I won't go on too long.

In other news, my copy of Couture Sewing Techniques came through my door today, only a little bit bent from coming through the letter box.

I also got a call from someone from one of the stalls at the Spring Fair in my local town. I won the guess how many sweets in the jar game but they're going to have to take it to my parents house because I live about 60 miles away. I have to say, being a trains journey away from snacking is enough to keep me good (just).

What have you guys been up to? Any spring outings?

Would You Ever Buy A Toy Sewing Machine?

I'll be honest with you guys, I'm a child at heart. I love pretty dresses, fluffy toys, and riding my bike. I guess it's inevitable that my love of sewing and my love of toys would intersect.

(doll clothing source)
I think a lot of people got their first taste of sewing from making dolls clothes or little sewing kits. Mine was from a sew your own teddy set that was basically two pieces of felt cut into the shape of a bear that you had to sew together and fill with split peas. I loved that toy, even though he shed hard orange stuffing wherever he went and was eventually left in a park.

I even tried making a pair of trousers for a toy once, but I was young and didn't quite understand clothing construction. It was just two tubes of cloth sewn together at the crotch, no way for it to go higher than where her legs met, and after one more attempt at getting it to fit right I gave up and threw it away.

I didn't have my first experience with a sewing machine till high school, and even then it was just the brief construction of an oven glove in home economics.

(toy sewing machine source)
Toy sewing machines were definitely around when I was young, but I never got one, I probably wouldn't have used it that much if I did, but I still love the idea of them. I wonder if anyone does buy them? Someone has to, or they wouldn't still be selling them.

Most of the modern ones are simple, pink, plastic devices that look disposable and kinda pathetic. It looks like it'll go from new and expensive to depressing car-boot fodder without much space in between.

(toy singer source)
It wasn't always that way. Some of the older sewing machines are works of art. They still only do strait chain stitch and most are powered by a hand crank rather than modern batteries, but I think that adds to their appeal.

There are loads of toy sewing machines on eBay and I've been watching a few of them out of curiosity. Do I need one? No. But do I want one? Heck yes!

What do you guys think? Would you buy a toy sewing machine for your kids? What about yourself? Do you think I should?

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Back To Work And Finished With Hand Sewing

I got back home yesterday and realized I'd been traveling and galavanting about for almost two weeks. Today was my first day back at work so I didn't get much done, but I at least got the hand sewn straps done for my blue top. You may have guessed that this much hand sewing (on seams at least) is enough to last me a while. I'll finish the top by machine, that's for sure.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Tambour beading

(tambour beading source)
As most of you will be starting to pick up on, I have a bit of an obsession with intricate decoration and couture techniques. I suspect that spending a couple of hours googling could get almost anyone hooked, but that's just my opinion.

One thing that I know I have to try is tambour beading. It's a really expensive decoration if you're going out to buy it, not something you stick on everything, but it's very popular for wedding dresses when every woman has an excuse to buy something posher than she ever would otherwise.

It has a long history in India and China but has been widely adopted and maybe a bit co-opted in Parisian haute couture and that's how I heard about it

(tambour butterfly source)
I had done a search for the word couture on and turned up someone asking about 'bead embroidery'. Some of the lovely people on the site who seem to know everything sometimes told her it was tambour and pointed her to a few videos, and I followed along for the ride.

Have you ever seen a crafted item that's so well made and beautiful it makes you a little sick with envy? That's kind of how I'm feeling right now. There are some mind blowing examples of this stuff out there, especially if you look at Asian bridal gowns, and it makes me wand to dish out the money I need for supplies right this instant.

Sad to say, that isn't in my budget right now. I'm a bit skint and shelling out for a tambour beading handle (£10.60), some tambour hooks (£3.95 each), and even the cheapest stand for my embroidery hoops, isn't going to happen this month. I don't even know if I'd like it (though I can guess pretty confidantly).

For now I'll just have to watch youtube videos and dream.

Monday, 6 May 2013

Faking It

When I come to my parents and I'm using their internet I tend to go a bit overboard watching TV shows online. When I was here over Christmas I got through at least 30 episodes of 'Say Yes To The Dress,' a program about women buying wedding dresses, and I indulge my weakness for 'Glee'.

Last night I watched a couple of episodes of an old (to me) show called 'Faking It'. They take someone who has no experience in a subject or career and get them to try and fake proficiency with only a month of training. Most of them seem to manage.

Some of them have a talent or job that translates just a bit, like the classical chellist who had to DJ (music) or the ballet dancer who tried his hand at wrestling (physical prowess), but the funnest are always the ones where they are the most unlikely people you could drag off the street.

These are a couple of links to ones that I really liked. I don't know if they're viewable outside of the UK, sorry.

Factory to Fashion
Twenty-four-year-old factory worker Mick Wigham leaves the grittiness of the production line for the glamour of the catwalk as he tries to fake it as a fashion designer.

In The Navy to Drag Queen

Londoner Spence Bowdler, 30-years-old, an ex-naval officer and self-confessed 'macho' man, transforms into a drag queen.

You may be asking, what does this have to do with sewing? Maybe nothing for other people, but for me one of the episodes was like a lightning bolt.

For the 2006 Christmas special a mousy, shy woman called Scarlet Pallister was introduced to the world of burlesque, and I too had a glimpse in by proxy. I was 16 at the time and I was enthralled. I checked out Dita Von Tease's book from my college library where I was doing Fashion and Textiles and told people that was what I wanted to be when I grew up.

As you can probably tell, it didn't work out that way. I dropped out of the Fashion course, ended up studying Childcare for a little while, then got the job I've been working at ever since. It's not glamorous but the pay is pretty good.

I still adore the aesthetic. I've always liked corsets and fur, and the big feather fans look like hours of fun. I've started to wonder lately, could I try sewing a costume like this? Maybe even take lessons? I know they're available in my area.

If you aren't convinced then have a gander at Scarlet Pallister performing here as Scarlet Fever:

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Me Made May Is Over For Me

It might have been obvious to some of you from the outset but I'm pulling out of Me Made May for this year. I'll be trying again for Self Stitched September but I didn't have enough garments at the moment and I think I can get something good out of this and move on.

I don't know if I've told you this but I'm visiting my parents at the moment for my birthday and to visit the spring fair. I was planning on cutting and sewing up some clothes quickly over the last few days and borrowing my Mums sewing machine to do it, but when I got here I found out that all three of her machines are waiting to be fixed.

Oh well.

Because I get twitchy if I'm not doing something with my hands and I had already cut out the fabric anyway I figured I might as well give hand sewing a try.

Even though everything's a bit wrinkled (from too much tension in the stitches) it doesn't actually look that bad. Maybe if I keep practicing I'll end up reasonably good? Better than I am now, anyway.

I almost bought a book as well. I read about Bridal Couture by Susan Khalje on Male Pattern Boldness and did a quick search on amazon and eBay for copies. With ten seconds to go I was the top bidder at £36 and was excited but a little bit worried about how I could explain why I spent so much on a book. Yeah, I got a bit of money for my birthday (my parents find it easier) but still...

Turns out I didn't need to worry. Just seconds from the end someone sniped in and got it for about £75 plus p&p. It's probably a blessing in disguise.

I don't think I could go through my birthday without buying something, though. I went searching on Amazon and picked up Couture Sewing Techniques by Claire Shaeffer and The Little Corset Book by Bonnie Ambrose for about £18. I should get them both before the end of the month.

I feel a lot more relaxed now that I don't have as much on my plate. I still have the pattern review competition to do, but that's going to be comparatively simple. I have my plan and a pattern I'm going to edit a little bit.

Have any of you guys ever tried sewing garments by hand? How did it go?

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Project Planning

I'll be honest here. I don't usually put a whole lot of thought into what I wear day to day. Sure, I try to put on colours that match and styles that go together, but a lot of what I do is grabbing what's closest and throwing it on. If it needs ironing or a lot of work, it tends to stay in the wardrobe.

That goes for my underthings as well. I grab whatever's clean and might add tights or leggings if I feel like wearing a dress or a skirt but for me they mostly come in black and are only there to cover up a body part I don't like (my eczema) or that I don't want to put on show (when I get on my bike).

I started to give this approach a bit of a rethink when I went out walking in my polka dot dress yesterday. The cotton fabric stuck to my leggings every time I moved and as the pleated fabric worked up it looked like I was wearing a cup. It doesn't look that bad when it's laying properly but with all that fabric on my abdomen it can all go wrong incredibly fast.

I wouldn't have this problem if I'd lined my dress, but how many dresses are actually lined these days? I don't think I have any that are, but that might just be because I'm a cheapskate. So what are the other options?

I could always try using different fabric? I don't remember ever having this problem with other cottons and different fabrics but I don't have all that great a memory. Maybe this happens with everything?

The better option for me, something I've touched on before, is a petticoat. When I covered them earlier I was only thinking about shape, but a nice, slippery layer between my clothes and myself would definitely fix my problem.

It's something to put on my list, along with a dozen other things. I could even break out my pattern drafting books.

What do you guys think?
As far as birthdays go, this year was pretty good. I went for a walk by the brook to take my Me May Made photo and had a meal out with my parents.

I think this is the first picture I've put up of my 40s dress. The fit isn't great and the construction's worse but it's an okay effort.

I need to get a bit of sewing done if I'm going to complete Me Made May, so once my parents had both gone off to work I dug out three meters of blue poly-cotton and started cutting. Using Mum and Dad's big wooden dining table is a dream.

I got all the pieces for view A cut out and did a couple of tailor tacks and I'm hoping to borrow Mum's machine tomorrow.