Sunday, 30 June 2013

Forward Planning

How far ahead do you plan your sewing projects?

I have to admit, I have a tenancy to plan my sewing for about an hour before I start tracing the pattern and sometimes it really shows. I use the wrong fabric for the pattern, I don't think enough about how the finished garment will look or even if I'd ever be tempted to wear it.

My friends, that has seriously got to change.

I'm changing the way I plan and sew for the seasons. I'm going to be following the cycle set by the London fashion week, partly to get my inspired for planning and partly because it's a great reminder.


I'll be planning autumn and winter clothes for March to August and planning my pretty summer dresses from September to February, but at the same time sewing cold weather clothes starting in June and hot weather clothes starting in December.

I'm doing this so I have three months for my ideas to solidify before I start sewing them and even the last projects for the season will get some wear that year, despite my horrendously slow sewing.

I'd love to hear what you guys think. Will I get fed up with sewing clothes that I have to wait to wear? Would you try this?

Friday, 28 June 2013

Hawthorn Sewalong

I am officially jumping on the bandwagon. It's so fun and happy up here, though, so can you blame me?

I've never taken part in a sew along before so I'm looking forward to talking to people about the pattern I'm using RIGHT NOW and taking part in an event.

This dress looks like it'll work with my body and sewing skills but the sample ones that the amazing women at Collette Patterns aren't quite my thing. I'll need to do mine a bit different if I'm ever going to wear it and I have some ideas.


In my humongous stash I've got a basic red poly-cotton that would look awesome as a shirt dress but that would still be a bit plain. How about some stamps? I've got a big square stamp chockablock with cogs that I've been just dying to use. I liked the idea but wouldn't it look a bit homemade (and not in the good way)?
The answer! Foil that you apply to fabric by putting down glue, letting it dry and then pressing the sheet onto it. It's beautiful and washable, perfect for the lazy launderer, and I can't wait to try it out. The cogs will all be in gold but I'm definitely going to use some of the other ones for different projects.

Have any of you ever tried putting foils on fabric? More importantly, did it work?

Thursday, 27 June 2013


I've been thinking a lot about ways to personalize the clothes I make lately. I love what I've made but it's not the amazingly fantastical wardrobe that I dream of.

I've been a little addicted to pinterest lately and I've been making an online inspiration board so that I can put some actual planning into my next project instead of doing the first thing that springs to mind.

It's actually helping me learn a lot about my tastes that I didn't know before and showing me things I didn't consider before (and some I still won't).

One of the first dresses I fell in love with was this one to the left. It's 125 years old and it was made for Ellen Terry, a famous Elizabethan actress, to wear when she played Lady Macbeth. It's covered in hundreds of jewel beetle shells, many of which had to be sewn back on or even fixed when it was restored.

I'd love to try using them on one of my own creations and I even have a plan in my mind. I'm going to make an old Butterick 5967 in green satin with the beetle wings as trim along the neck and edges.

It seems like not many home sewers try out beetle wings (yeah, I'm not surprised either) but the nice woman over at Needle n' Thread did a project with them and helpfully describes how to prepare and work with them. Now I just have to read the rest of her blog. :)
If I do make this dress I'll definitely be make this embroidered beetle as a hair clip. It was designed by Michele Carragh for a costume for Game of Thrones using references from 'The Stumpwork, Goldwork and Surface Embroidery Beetle Collection' by Jane Nicholas.

How fancy do you guys let your projects get?

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Technical Problems

I'm seeing a new computer in my future when I've saved up enough cash. It blue screened today and trying to connect anything to it via the USB ports is a nightmare. There aren't as many pictures in this post as I'd like because they got eaten when my laptop couldn't decide whether to connect to my card reader or not.

One out of four isn't bad, I guess.

I have two days of work to talk about but none of it's that interesting. I attached the second sleeve to my blue top and did a little bit of hemming but the second day was mostly taken up by shopping and traveling. I had to check out a location for work and I'm going to be away from home for a few nights so I picked up two of those cross-stitch packs you give to little kids to take with me. What can I say? They were half price.

I got what I paid for. They've got the pattern printed on the fabric like a paint by numbers but it doesn't quite correspond to the wonky grain of the fabric and isn't to the same scale as the gridded picture on the front of the packet. Oh, well. It'll keep me amused and get me back into embroidery.

I did pick up something much more rewarding though. Our local bookshops have responded to the popularity of The Great British Sewing Bee by upping their stock and I picked up this wonderful book. I may not be selling things at the moment but I want to one day.


Monday, 24 June 2013

So Close

After I sewed the left sleeve of my top in yesterday I could finally get a good sense of how the top will look when I've finished. The sleeve heads are quite poofy and include a lot of gathering, which was a nightmare, but I'm starting to like that. Maybe it's just because of the amount of time I've invested, but I only meant it as a toile and a Me-Made-May helper anyway so I'm happy.

Today I'm sewing the other sleeve on and I'm staying away from home and my sewing machine for work so a quick hemming project will be really useful.

Sunday, 23 June 2013


I finished sewing my back facing onto my top yesterday but that's boring. I want to talk about what I did in the evening.

I spent Saturday evening watching 'An Evening of Burlesque' with my boyfriend and we had so much fun I came home afterwards and browsed the theaters website to plan another outing.

I'm pretty sure I've talked about my love of burlesque before but it bares repeating. I just love the whole aesthetic, the femininity and even the craft of it. It's even something I could seriously see myself having a go at.


Plus, the costumes drive me crazy. If I lived in a world where I could wear whatever I wanted and a country where is was warmer I'd be decked out in feathers every day.

If nothing else you have to appreciate the body confidence that it takes to stand up in front of a (hopefully) crowded theater with only pasties and a pair of knickers protecting your modesty.

Maybe when I get more practice with beading and sequins I'll douse myself in glitter for my own entertainment but for now it will have to stay a fabulous dream. At least till after I've finished my gingham dress, that is.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

A Little Progress And Some Excitement

Definitely didn't do much work yesterday. Had a bit of drama with my boyfriend and only got time to sew half the back facing but my relationship is okay and that's what counts.

I'm not going to get any time tonight either because I'm going to a burlesque performance at the local theater. I'll tell you how it goes!

Friday, 21 June 2013

Hand Sewing And A Competition

Today it's time for a little bit different! I've got the usual update telling what I've been up to, I hand sewed my yoke front together, but I've also got something special. To commemorate my 100th post I'm doing a give away.

I'm giving away five meters of this 150cm width flowery fabric, three meters of button printed ribbon and a whole eight meters of white lace trim. All you have to do to enter is add a comment on this post.

The fabric has really good drape and I tried to take a picture so you could see that and the size of the pattern but I just ended up looking kind of a numpty. I'm willing to ship it to wherever you live in whatever country, and I probably won't get that many entries so it's really worth a try.

The competition ends on midnight GMT on the 28th and I'll randomly selected winner on the 29th. I'll put up my e-mail address so you can contact me and get your prize.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Return Of A UFO

I talked yesterday about revisiting my UFOs and I took that to heart. I may not have gotten out the jacket but this project is closer to completion. I attached the yoke and yoke facing and now I just have to sew down the facing, attach the sleeves and hem everything.

I look ridiculous in this picture, but oh well.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013


I've talked a lot about jackets on this blog for someone who owns so few of them. I talked about corseted jackets, Lilli Ann jackets and hoodies and touched on the subject in several other blog posts but I hardly ever buy them. I went snoop shopping a couple of days ago and spent ages trying on jackets only to leave disappointed. What can I say, I'm picky.

It also doesn't help that I spent most of my life responding to cold by either adding figure swallowing layers or hoodies. You just have to look through the old photo albums to see how much I've failed with jackets, and there was actually quite a nice figure hiding under there somewhere.

Maybe that's why I still have problems buying jackets. I never learned what I liked and what looked good. The combination of a desperate need and reading through the archives of Alreadypretty is making me take a hard, long look.

I pretty much already know that princess seams and nipped in at the waist is good for my shape but beyond that I'm stuck. I don't even know what's available. I guess I'll have to work through my small collection of jacket patterns and learn through trial and error.

As with all things like this, I turn to Google and Pinterest. The jacket below has the shape that I like but it's really the embellishments that sell it for me. I have a weak spot for sparkles.


This next one is only an illustration but I love the use of fur. It's definitely not a style I'd buy or make as is but there are parts of it I like.


I had to add this one just for the waist (doubtless requiring a corset) but the silver stripes and the embroidery are quite awesome. I also like the idea of a folded back collar like detail on the bottom corners.


Those of you who've been around for a while or read some of the earlier posts might remember Newlook 6035. I started trying to make a toile but then put it away to make my 40s dress and didn't go back. I'll definitely have to do that before it gets cold.

Maybe July will be the month of the UFO (unfinished object).

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Dressing Gowns

I was at the charity shop yesterday and felt horrific when I came home so there was no sewing done, plus it seems from my chesty cough and lack of energy today that Chris has been a dear and shared whatever was making him feel like a half eaten beef jerky.

So I've spent all of today in bed in my dressing gown drinking energy drinks and dosing up with paracetamol. That isn't good for my to do list but it at least gave me something to talk about.

As far as I'm concerned there seems to be two kinds of dressing gown, big fluffy ones that you wear when you're wet or sick and long, flowing, silky ones that you wear to feel sexy and before you've decided how to dress that day.


Dressing in a soft, slightly old lady like dressing gown is awesome when you feel like death warmed up, when  you're wet from the shower or even soaked from cold rain but knowing there are two types shows me a big dearth in my wardrobe. I've never had a sexy dressing gown but I want one.

The problem is, I can't see myself buying one. In shops they're very much seen as a luxury item and the prices are high, plus they seem to be not that fashionable at the moment so they're hard to find on the high street.

It's when you start delving into vintage and vintage style clothing that you start to find what I'm after. See-through fabrics, silks and sex appeal, fur and lace trim, anything that makes you feel a million pounds!


Maybe I'll just have to make myself a couple. Just another thing to add to my to do list. Until then I'll just look at all the pretty pictures on Pinterest.


Monday, 17 June 2013

My White Whale: Part Two

You might remember my problem with iron on interfacing that I talked about a while ago. I went back and gave it another go today because I ran out of pins for my gingham dress and thought I could harvest some from and old unfinished project. Turns out the blue top didn't have any pins in it but I figured if I worked on it a bit or even finished it that would be one thing off my list of things to do.

I accidentally attached it to the pieces cut on the straight rather than the ones on the bias. It's good enough.

I've also been looking at tables to work on. I'll have to clean up more to make room for it but if I clear the space then I might reward myself.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

All The Fixin's

I was reasonably busy yesterday even though I didn't really leave bed. I put the last two buttons on my black top so I could wear it today to meet the boyfriends grandparents. I really like it and I think it looks even better than it did before.

Also, I sorted the big bags of buttons I got from Abakhan! There was one of some and I think over a hundred of  the blueish ones. I'm really looking forward to using the toggles and the beaded ones but there are others that will probably sit in my draw till I decide I have to organize a project around them or give them away.

Finally, I've been working really hard to either fix clothes or get rid of them so I pulled out a pair of trousers I haven't worn for over two years. They have these straps across the legs that are sewn down between the holes but the stitch lines ripped an it dragged along the ground. I spent ages sewing the three lines of stitching then went to try them on. Tragedy! I discovered that not just the strap was broken, the zip was broken! One side of the zip had come unconnected from one side and some of the teeth are missing. I'll probably replace it but not quite yet. I have to get back to my gingham dress.

Saturday, 15 June 2013

A Little Bit Of Fixing

Yesterday I put eight of the ten buttons on my black top and I'm feeling really good about my choice. It looks really pretty. Not a lot of work to go through to add a wearable item to my wardrobe.

Also, I was wrong about the size of Chris' display. It's actually 5 feet. To really put this in perspective, I'm five foot three.

Friday, 14 June 2013

Another Lazy Day, Kind Of

I've been awake for 40 hours.

I didn't get any sewing done yesterday. I did even more sodding laundry (it's finally all gone now) and then had to go into town to sort things out with the bank for the second day running. By the time I got home my legs and feet burned.

I was supposed to go to a midnight release for a video game with my boyfriend but my legs had gone all wobbly and the poor thing had to go by himself. He bought a four foot tall advertising display for the game.

All I did that was even remotely close to sewing was try on some clothes in town and buy cheap notions. Abakhan had strips of elastic long enough for waistbands (30p each) and bags of buttons for a pound so I splurged a bit. Not buying any new fabric seems to be backfiring a bit.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Fixing Up My Wardrobe

I didn't get any actual sewing done yesterday. From 10am to 6:30pm I was pretty much walking back and forth to town. I had to get stuff sorted out with the bank and I walked to Chris's work with him and them met him for the walk home to bring his coat. After all that I just felt to tired to sew.

I did manage to get supplies for a mending project though. One of the tops I really like was missing a button and it didn't have a spare so I decided I liked enough to buy new buttons. The button loops are tiny so the ones I got were almost the only ones that fit. They're whirly black plastic with little gems in them and for ten I payed a whopping £7.40. That's more than I pay for most tops that I buy. 

What's the most you guys have ever payed to fix something? Would you pay that much?

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

A Busy Day But Not Much Sewing

Yesterday got off to a bad start when I slept in till noon. Chris stayed up to watch the live feed of the E3 announcements because he's a bit of a video game addict and it went on till 6am where we are so neither of us got much sleep.

I spent most of the day doing laundry and filling a huge bag with clothes I'm getting rid of. I think I've culled half my wardrobe since Chris moved in but it really needed doing. I've got some other items that need either working back into everyday wear or throwing out but I'm giving them a second chance. I'll be showing them to you over the next month or so.

I've finally got to the bottom of the pile of laundry that Chris brought with him when he moved but mine's built up in the mean time and now I have to do that and make sure anything from there that needs to go to the charity shop does. Sigh.

Going through my clothes put us in a silly mood so we messed around with Chris's top hat and cosplay wig. The hat is so big on me that it falls down over my eyes and I'm convinced the wig needs thinning out but it was fun. (I know I look ridiculous.)

That evening I cut the back of my gingham dress and pinned the front down while he sketched. It feels like I'm getting close to the finish line now. I've put up his sketch for posterity because he had a hissy fit and ripped it up shorty after the photo was taken. They've been messing him about a bit at work so he has his ups and downs.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

A Day At The Beach

I got absolutely nothing sewing related done yesterday because working at the charity shop leaves me tired and lazy so I figured it's time for a bit of inspiration. Those seem to be my most popular posts anyway so no great loss, plus I think they're a bit more interesting.

It's just getting to the nice, sunny part of the year here in England so me and the boyfriend are talking about going to the beach one day if it's nice and we both have the day off. I've never lived close enough to the coast to do that before so I'm looking forward to it.

The problem is that I don't have any swimwear that fits. What with aging and changing size regularly it all looks kind of silly.

I actually went onto the high street to brows a bit a couple of days ago, ostensibly to get boxers for the boyfriend but he was to picky to buy any. The selection there wasn't great and I didn't buy anything, but now I need to find something. I'm not up to sewing one yet and I want to go to the beach!

I really didn't like the way they built the busts on the bikinis. They were either simple triangles of fabric, fine for smaller busted women but not a D like me, or the hideously overstuffed cups that seem to have become popular in bras as well. I don't like padding and I just want something that will comfortably hold what I already have. I'm sure I'm not alone in that.


I love pretty patterns on swimwear, one thing I like on the bikini above, because when else do you have a built in excuse to wear something that summery and colourful? Plus, even the most overwhelming patterns aren't covering all of your body so they're in small enough doses to look good.

The best ways to add interest to swimwear and make it cute seams to be shaping and pattern cutting, but these all add to the price. A swimming costume is something most people don't wear to often, especially if they aren't part of a gym or live in England, so it hurts a bit more to splash out. For me, the more I'm likely to wear something the more I'm happy spending.


For a little bit of sexy, what about cutouts? I have a little weak spot for them, especially ones that would show and compliment my tattoo. (I have a pink and purple Celtic not butterfly tattoo on my side.) Sometimes they look cool but sometimes they just look tacky. The one below is cool though.

This last one is for children but it's so friggin' awesome I had to include it.

What about you guys? What kind of costumes do you wear? Would you ever make your own? Would you wear a padded one?