Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Last Post for 2010

Hi all.  I'm going to sign off for Christmas and the New Year today.  I've had some early starts this week (6am) as the shop prepares for the sale and as we have guests over the festive period I have a lot to do. 
This afternoon I want to do this:
(But will end up looking like this!)

I would like to thank you all for stopping by.  I set up this blog at the end of August and am amazed to have had over 2,000 hits, even though there hasn't been an awful lot of sewing going on!  Thank you to those of you who are following.  In traditional blog stylee I will have a giveaway when I hit a "magic" number and promise to show you more of my work next year, including hints, tips and techniques.

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

And if you have a few minutes to spare you may enjoy these:

The beautiful Kirsty McColl - she died 10 years ago and is greatly missed.
Bing and David - what a collaboration!!

Tuesday, 14 December 2010


Today I wanted to feel like this...

But really I feel like this....

It's the time of year I think. Oh well, must plow on with some more sewing.  I've decided to make a table runner for our Xmas dinner table.  Photos to follow shortly.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Book Review: The Dressmaker's Handbook of Couture Sewing Techniques

Dressmakers Handbook of Couture Sewing Techniques
Lynda Maynard

I placed a pre-order via Amazon for this book 21st August as a birthday present to myself hoping it would arrive early September.  It arrived yesterday...
When I first flicked through it I was a bit disappointed to be honest.  Mmm, how to apply bias neck edges, sewing a hem with a twin needle, using cotton lawn as an interlining - nothing new.  The photographs are very good in places, but in others they are hard to understand because you see a small section with no reference - ie hands, thimble etc. 
Then I looked at it again about an hour ago (after first-phase Christmas clean!).  It is a good book.  From discussion about quality fabrics, through to cording, couture cuffs and my favorite, silk organza bubble hems.
I would recommend it if you are at a stage where you want to improve your sewing techniques, but if you already know how to use interlinings, horsehair braid, bindings, single-thread and balanced darts etc then I'd give it a miss.  If I had seen the book in a shop I don't think I would have bought it, however now I have it it's a keeper and I am sure it will pick it up every now and again.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Uncanny Resemblence?

Now don't get me wrong, I'm a big Joe Cocker fan (being a Yorkshire Man and all...) but this though just suddenly struck me whilst sewing a corset - where it came from I have no idea, perhaps I'm tiered and need a good nights sleep?

Father Jack
Joe Cocker

Thank goodness Mr Cocker now looks like this.....

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Christmas gifts

Just to let you know I am still sewing!!  These are book covers made from heavy weight cotton, wadding, embroidery threads, trims and cotton pieces.  My friends all use notebooks at work so I though these might cheer the place up a bit.  The I love sewing one is for a good friend who is learning to sew and who always writes things down on scraps of paper! 

The delivery from Jaycotts arrived this afternoon.....

Roll on the new year when I will have time to "play"!

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Why sew when RTW is so cheap to buy?

This is why:
Cord Jacket in New Look Sale - £12 (Original price £25).  Yes, that's right, not a typo, £12 (around US$18)  So I just had to have a try on because I've had a cord jacket on my "To Do" list for a full year.  As soon as I got the first arm on I knew - cheap, cheap, nasty, nasty.  I didn't go any further.  The cord itself was nice and soft, the lining was a bit on the stiff side; but guess what?  There was NO interfacing in that jacket, or if there was it had been made from air because it sure wasn't doing anything.  The collar was limp, the revers were round on one side and squound (not square, not round) on the other and the button was falling off.
And that's why we sew - fit and quality (not to mention satisfaction!)
So, it's back on the To Do list for 2011  think I need to revisit my original plan and set a more realistic one for next year and I should add it to my blog.  What's the saying?  "What gets written gets done" - or something along those lines.

I'm busy sewing for customers at the moment and don't like to photograph/blog about the garments until the customer takes ownership so apologies there's not much personal sewing to blog about at the moment.

That's all for now.  Have a good evening!

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Is it too early for whiskey?

Hello all.  I've been busy sewing away over the last week, but sadly I can't show you too much just yet as it's all for Christmas presents.  Plus I have a couple of orders for corsets and sewing classes in between - it's good to be busy!
I haven't forgotten about the promised tutorial on the corseted strapless top - as it's for me it's bottom of the list at the moment and likely to start round about 10th December.  Thanks to all those of you who have been asking!
In the meantime I've been hit with a horrible head cold which has knocked me for six this morning - is it too early to have a drop of whiskey in my coffee do you think? Anyhoo, it's a good excuse to sit in front of the TV, catch up on some blogs etc  for an hour or so.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend - sewing posts next week I promise!

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Sewing Room and Ode to Betty - with apologies to any poets who may be reading...

Betty, Betty thank goodness you are not made of spaghetti
I love you though up down needle - no.
Your colour may be cream but you run like a dream
So c'mon Betty lets sew!

the very lovely Betty

Betty and I have been working on a Christmas gift for my sister, and all is going very well.  We have also made some curtains for the sewing room which Ian has promised to put up (that will be Xmas Eve about 1 min before our guest arrives - sorry darling!)

The sewing room is 90% done, just need to settle into it and buy a couple of bits and bobs.  He're how it looks so far:

I also use the pull-out table as a pressing station for small pieces

And this is addl storage.  I just need a trip to Ikea to buy a couple of drawers and boxes to fit the unit.  This will also act as a bed-side table  - once the bed gets here.  I'm not showing you the other side of the room, it's a tip it's not finished yet.

I promise to show you some sewing soon and will crack on with the Christmas Party Dress!  I have a lingerie class starting on Monday evening for 4 weeks so need to do some prep for that this afternoon.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Another Sewcation!

I'm on hols again next week and have some serious sewing to do:

Christmas party 2 piece to start/finish as discussed earlier in the Party Time! post
1 red wool cape
1 wearable Christmas pressi for my Sister
1 wearable Christmas pressi for my Mum
I will also make some smaller gifts for friends - bags typically!

I'll take photos of the Chrismas gifts as I go but won't be able to blog about them until after Father Christmas has picked them up and delivered them!

Of course I have to finish the sewing room first!

Monday, 8 November 2010

No sewing, just painting....

Well dear readers, there's been no sewing for over a week and I'm getting withdrawal symptoms - however it is all self-inflicted.
I don't know about you but my stash, equipment and notations are taking over the house.  Now that was sort of okay as a single girl living on her own but now I have to think about Ian  and as we only have two bedrooms I need to get uber organised.  I've been following this blog with interest as it highlights lots of  varied sewing spaces  http://thebluegardenia.typepad.com/ and had a nosey via this link http://younge.com/sewing%20rooms.htm.  As the room will have a duel purpose we went to Ikea on Sunday to look at shelving/storage etc etc.  Ian had had enough after 40 mins and I can't say it's my favorite place in the world but I did a bit of homework before hand so knew roughly what I wanted and Ian acted as my muscles for the afternoon.  I bought shelving from the expedit range in birch and a desk which has a pullout section which will be great to house the overlocker.  I really wanted white, but everything looked a bit "yellow" and worried this may happen at home after a few months so that's why I went with the birch colour.
And here's an idea of the shelving units

I'll be putting casters on this one so I can wheel it out of the way when guest come
I've painted 2 walls white and the two end walls a very, very soft pink.  One pink wall will be the sewing area and the other will be the sleeping area (sadly I couldn't have the whole room and just hand my guests a sleeping bag and tell them to watch out for pins on the floor!)
Anyway, pictures to follow when done.  In the meantime I haven't forgotten about the strapless top with built-in corset.  I'll be working on it next week and will post the instructions as I go.
Oh, and Betty's back home all shiny and working, not that I've had much of an opportunity to use her much as yet.
Have a good week all, enjoy your sewing and think of me as I paint and build up flat packs!

Friday, 29 October 2010

Party Time!

As mentioned earlier I want need 2 party dresses this year so decided on one dress and one skirt/top combo.

I'm going to make a strapless top with corset insert using the top left pattern and a circle skirt using the vintage vogue pattern, although you don't really need a pattern to make a circle skirt.  I've decided on black (yawn) for this outfit.  Black satin top, trimmed with grosgrain ribbon and buckle/bling embelished and satin skirt using this:
- it is black, honestly!  A full petticoat with black dress net and tulle will give it a little oomph I think.

I'm liking the Simplicity dress with overlay and have teal in mind, but not sure what/how as I haven't seen any yet. I'm having a shopping trip tomorrow so will see what's available.

I've made a start on the corset section of the top and will post some pictures and techniques as I go.  In the meantime here's a list of the fabric and tools you will need to make the strapless top.

1  Your favorite strapless top pattern adjusted to fit
2  Outer fabric, lining, soft sew-in interfacing, coutil - please use coutil it really is the best fabric for corsets
3  All purpose thread, open-ended zip (typically 30cm)
3  4mm eyelets
4  5/7mm plastic boning (not that horrible rigeline please!)  sometimes called whalebone, although it is of course plastic these days!
5  4# 7mm flat flexi steels approx 15cm each, but make up your pattern first and measure the length you need
6  2.5cm wide organza ribbon - approx 3m
7  Bias binder maker, eyelet plyers if you have them
8  Tracing paper, ruler, coloured pencils, cellotape 
9  Usual sewing paraphernalia!
10 - oh, piping cord if you want to finish the top and/or bottom edges plus extra fabric for the covering

Betty Update:
Betty Bernina arrived safe and well, but she was very naughty today and tripped the electics to the whole house - twice.  She's going for a health check tomorrow before any serious damage is done!

That's all for now, I'll post on the technique over the weekend - have a good one!

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Don't you just love ebay?

I would like to introduce you to Betty Bernina.  She will be coming to live with me on Thursday and I am very happy.  She is a 730 Record and is capable of many stitches has a buttonhole facility and, more importantly, she has a freearm - I've missed that with my Janome.
I think she may need a good clean and probably a service before she's fully up and running but no doubt we will spend some time getting to know one another other over the weekend...

Betty comes with bobbins and many feet

I'm currently working on a tutorial to show you how to make a strapless top which incorporates a corset.  The corset will only reduce the waist by about 4/5cms but will give a defined shape - more to follow over the next few days.

Have a great evening.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Fleece Jacket Done (and domestic goddess)

Sorry about the rubbish photo, but I'm acutely aware there are no photographs of me actually wearing anything I've made!  Here's the Fleece jacket, it's warm, snugly and a pretty colour too. 
I decided not to use the loop/button closure and go for a belt instead but having worn it I definitely need a couple of hooks and eyes at the top.  It was dead simple to make and fleece is easy to work with.  I cut a 10 front and 12 back - don't know what I was thinking as I should have cut a 10 back and 12 front, but I can get away with the "extra" at the back because of the styling with the belt.  I didn't need to follow the instructions however I always have a quick read through just in case.  A walking foot was essential for this project and I won't use Coats thread again! (You can see another set of PJ's in this photo)

I've also been thinking about Christmas party dresses (I need want 2 this year) - more later; brain spinning with ideas.  I don't know about you, but I tend to see a fabric and an idea grows from that.  Plus I've been busy on ebay and etsy looking for vintage patterns again, will let you know how I get on with some of my bids.

Domestic Goddess:  Pin Queen makes bread!  Well, okay someone gave me a bread machine and I bought a ready-mix pack, chucked in some water, pressed a few buttons and 1hour 55mins later this was the result:
It's sun dried tomato and I've just had a slice toasted, buttered and a hot cup of tea - delicious!

Friday, 22 October 2010

Pattern Storage, thread rant and confession....

How neat and tidy do these look?!  I've filed them by pattern company.  Vogue are in numerical order but I gave up on the others because, well frankly I got bored.  I like to look at my patterns when deciding on a new project and I was surprised that there were  no surprise finds, I knew exactly what I had (is that bad, or sad?)

Anyhoo, I need to let off some steam.  Whilst making this
I had some major thread issues.  Now I'm strictly a Gutermann girl, but when I bought this fleece the shop didn't sell my preferred brand so I went with Coats Duet - never, never again.  I was reluctant to purchase it in the first place but you know how it is, fabric, thread, pattern = Go sew.  Here's what happened to it:

Poor quality thread

And even worse, look at it in my machine.  This happened about every 30cms of stitching. 
look at all that carry on at the top!

Now I know I can sometimes be a bit "hasty" when sewing for myself but I had a new needle, altered the tension  (mainly zigzagged), eased off on the foot pressure and speed, but no, that damn thread's just rubbish.
I've had better quality thread from Leeds Market at 40p a reel.

What's your favourite thread to work with?

Confession time:  I just don't like making everyday clothes.  I love to work with silk, chiffon, satin, taffeta, organza etc. etc.  Only problem is, I'm not a big one for going out and I think I'd look a bit odd doing the Asda shop in a corset and full blown bustled skirt!

Picture of fleece jacket to follow, Vivienne is still busy showing off in the shop window.

Have a lovely weekend all.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Pattern Storage & Burda Style

Warning - this post contains the "C" word - twice....

I was up bright and early (5.30am) yesterday to start work - yes, Pin Queen has to work to feed her sewing habit. I work at our local Next 3 mornings a week and yesterday was an early start as we were putting out the Christmas decorations.  Pretty snowflakes, christmas presents and  H U G E  lit up "C"s dotted all around the shop.  Anyhoo, the christmas presents will make fantastic pattern storage boxes - they're really sturdy and come in varying sizes.  I was fortunate enough to take home two of the medium sized boxes that were spare (we had to do a bit of re-jigging to get everything to fit the shop displays) and they are perfect!  I think I will drill a couple of holes in the front and add a handle to make them a little easier to pull from the shelf - What do you think? 

Look how deep those red lids are - I think I'll use them as storage rather than lids.

Needless to say I'll put my name down for a few more when the decorations are ready to come down...... If you work in Next, or know anyone who does, they may be able to have a few at the end of the festive season too.

I used to get Burda years, and years ago (I mean late 80's early 90's) and have recently started to buy it again - goodness how it has changed.  I know many of you have already commented, but I didn't pay any attention until this morning as I traced off a simple top - what the ?)&*!? They are obviously cutting down costs by removing the extra sheet of pattern paper but they have made it very difficult for us indeed.  There's no way I'll be tackling any of the larger coat patterns in the future!


I'm not feeling the love for Burda right now...

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Mojo's back!

Phew, sewing mojo came back today - at about 6pm though....  Anyhoo I'd already made a start on some pj's and finished the top this evening (just a hem and ribbon to do) and made the bottoms in about 1.5 hours in a soft white cotton, trimmed at the bottom with the same fabric.  The top  and trim is a lovely soft cotton lawn in duckegg blue: 
I got it from ebay at £5.95/meter.  I only got 1 meter as it is 150cm wide.  The top pattern I used came as a download from Burdastyle called "Amanda".    It was going to be a top for the summer but I think it makes me look "top heavy" due to the gathering around the neck - I don't need ANY help in that department!
Vivienne is currently helping me with the window display so she can't model them for me at the moment, I'll add it to the list for later!

Think I need to have a go at a knit top next.  Can you believe I haven't ever worked with knit?!

Enjoy the rest of your weekend! TTFN

Friday, 15 October 2010

Knitting and stuff....

So here's the update on my knitting...  all the holes are in the right place!!!  It's such an easy pattern I can sit in front of the tv; only  one row of "pattern" to worry about, and if you can count to 3 and 6 you've cracked it!
I did have 4 balls of wool, but a certain dog in my life stole one from my bag and chewed it beyond rescue - before I'd even started any knitting. Should have been a lesson learned, but no.  Jackyboy loves to dig in this particular bag so the same thing happened the very next day - sigh £8 down and only half a scarf to show for it.  A shopping trip coming up tomorrow....  The wool is 4ply 100% wool and can only be described as neopolitan icecream - ie strawberry, vanilla and chocolate!  What was I thinking?  We'll see what it looks like when I've finished.

I did the windows at Cloth of Gold this morning.  Unfortunately I didn't have my camera set up very well so only one of the two pictures is worth showing you today

What do you think?  I didn't want to make it overly fussy.... here's hoping the shop look after all my hard work.  That blue corset has been quilted, corded, hand sewn flowers and beads which took me 
H O U R S!!

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Need a project away from the sewing machine.....

I stumbled across this and want to make it!
One of my favorite bloggers is without her sewing machine at the moment and has knitted this to keep herself occupied.  There's some lovely Rowan wool in our local shop so I'm just off to make a purchase - wish me luck - I haven't knitted for ages and am not very good at knitting "holes".  Take a look at the  Selfish Seamstress for her lovely creation..... and LOTS of sewing, where does that girl get the time?!

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Underbust Corset - Done!

Here's a picture of my latest creation; an underbust corset made with a pretty strawberry print cotton outer and black coutil inner.  I used 2 row eyelete tape for the front closure rather than a busk and german boning instead of steel spirals - that way it will be washable.  The front looks a little out at the bottom, but it's not, just an odd angle on Vivienne I think.  Oh, and yes it matches the bra I made last month.  I've also got a 1950's gridle to match that I made last year.  I   L O V E  this particular print - if you hadn't guessed?!
Here's a peek inside at the casings:

Monday, 4 October 2010

Look what I found!

With the move from Yorkshire to Wiltshire last year I had completely forgotten about these patterns and found them in the loft yesterday evening whilst organising the stash (yes, it's in the loft, we have no storage space in our house!).

Mum gave me them about 18 months ago.  One of her friends wife passed away in the late 80's and the family were still sorting through her belongings and he very kindly told Mum she could take whatever she liked from the sewing room.  Naturally Mum didn't want to raid the place so she took some patterns that she thought I might like and guessed the sizing (spot on Mum!) along with some lovely old thread and a small quantity of brocade.  I understand there was a huge stash of beautiful wool, tweed and silk and a tonne more patterns. It made me sad to think what the family may have done with it all, but am really pleased with the things Mum picked for me.
It makes me wonder what will happen to all my patterns, notations and stash when I go - hopefully I'll have worked through most of it by then!

On a lighter note, here are a couple of pictures of the waspie.  These photo's don't do the fabric nor colour any favours, but you get the general gist....

I just need to finish the ruffle centre with a row of sequins to match the top trim - but I haven't got those to hand so will have to purchase later this week.  I've fallen back in love with my ruffler - it was well behaved yesterday!

Not sure what the next project will be - I really should make another corset as I haven't done one for a while - what do you think?

Friday, 1 October 2010

Nearly the end of the sewcation ....

Where has the time gone?!?!  Well, I haven't done too badly  - what do you think?
1  Red Needlecord A-line skirt
2 Wincyette PJs
3 85% complete pink satin dress - I've had to put it down, I was getting a bit sick of it and need to have a smaller or quick project on the go at the same time.
4 Pink waspie - will be finished by end of Sunday
5 Lavender bags
6 Chanel Jacket well under way

Does anyone else have more than one project on the go at once?  With bigger projects I need small and quick makes or, as in the case of the Chanel Jacket, I forgot just how much fabric they take and didn't have enough lining - about 60cms short - aarrggghhh......

I cannot wait to get theses on!  I contemplated putting them on at 6pm, but didn't think it would be appreciated by the other household member (ahem......)

I'm not sure you can see all the piping on these photos....  The PJ's were a doddle to make and I enjoyed the process. 

Chanel Jacket underway
Boy does this fray!!!

Quilting; walking foot required for this process.

The pink waspie has eyelet closure at the back and a small busk at the front (how cute is that?!) and is made "properly" with coutil and spiral boning.  It's part of the "pink" window display for later in October.

Well, two days left.......