Inside My Vintage Sewing Box

When The Boyfriend and I moved into our flat back in August, we had to buy furniture as we had previously lived in furnished flats. We bought a load of flat pack stuff from Argos and Ikea (bed, sofa, bookcases) partly because we needed things quickly and partly because they’re relatively cheap. But apart from these basics, we wanted to try to get nice things from our local anqtiques centre and we did find a nice coffee table, a table for our phone and this lovely sewing box (which we keep our tv on):

It first caught my eye because I love the mid-century vibes, then when I realised it was a sewing box, I had to have it! And it came with lots of sewing goodies inside!

There’s a crochet hook and thimble in the lid, and I love the unashamed shade of pink of the fabric lining!

There are quite a few poppers and hooks and eyes.

There’s what I assume is a home-made needle case, complete with needles – and several other packets of needles. (How many times can I say needles!?)

I particularly love this little paper packet of needles – it looks like it should have matches in or something!

Possibly my absolute favourite item is this slightly crazy pin cushion with sumo wrestlers (?) around the edge.

I like this retro box of pins too!

You never have too many thimbles or tape measures 🙂

The only sad things about this little haul is that these are the only buttons. They’re nice, but it would have been great to have some really cool old buttons!

The main bulk of what was in the box was threads and ribbons and a bit of elastic.

       I feel a little weird about using the stuff that came in this box, and I’m not sure why. I’m sure the previous owner of the box used all of the things she kept in there, so I don’t think it was a life’s collection or anything. I just feel like I should keep the contents intact for some reason.

Have you every found a secret haul of sewing goodies?

Definitely my #MonetaParty Dress

jazzy-moneta-party-dressAfter what turned out to be my wearble muslin of the Colette Moneta, I was persuaded by Sarah from Like Sew Amazing (who has a fab new vlog, the first episode of which is about all 6 of her Monetas and features yours truly!) to make another one when she invited me to her house for a irl Moneta Party. It was really fun to sew with someone else – it’s normally such a solitary pursuit, it was a novelty to do it with company!

jazzy-moneta-party-dress-2I feel the main saving grace of this Moneta compared to the other, is the fabric. Eagle-eyed readers may recognise the fabric as the one I used for my Coco Dress. I used the pattern in a different way, centering the space between the diamonds instead of the diamonds themselves as I did for the Coco. I think it works better this way, which is good because to start with I was going to place the diamonds around the bodice in the same was as the Coco. And the diamonds pretty much line up on the side seams. Yay!

jazzy-moneta-party-dress-4The fabric looks even more trippy and like a magic eye picture from the back!

jazzy-moneta-party-dress-7The black fabric is some ponte I bought from my local sewing shop. I had thought they didn’t have that much of a range of dressmaking fabrics, but actually it’s pretty good when I looked closely and ignored the boxes of fat quarters! They have needlecord, lots of patterned cottons and a pretty good range of jerseys for a shop of that size. They also have everything you could possibly want in their massive range of haberdashery items.

jazzy-moneta-party-dress-5I really like the ponte as it has a nice structure to it, making it a lot easier to sew with than the thin fabric from my last version! The jazzy fabric is quite thin, but not too difficult to manhandle for just a couple of seams! The only problem with this combination of fabrics is the skirt pulls down the bodice slightly because the jazzy fabric is much more stretchy.

jazzy-moneta-party-dress-6I again cut out the straight size xs and this time didn’t need to make any fitting changes under the arms – I guess different jerseys behave in different ways. I also cut out the short sleeves instead of the longer ones because I didn’t think the 3/4 length sleeves would work in the black fabric. I did cut out the sleeves in both fabrics and asked Sarah’s opinion and she thought the black would look better – and she was totally right!

The main change I made, which I hadn’t initially planned, was to add a neckband.

jazzy-moneta-party-dress-3I measured the neckline of the bodice – the front neck was 34.5cm and the back neck 31cm. Added together this comes to 65.5cm. I decided to take 4cm off this length, guessing that this would be enough smaller to sit flat but not so much smaller it puckered the neckline. I’m sure there is a science to this, but my guess was okay. I then added 2cm back on for the seam allowance to be able to sew the 2 ends together into a loop. I cut the band to be 5cm wide. After sewing the 2 ends together, I folded the band in half lengthways, wrong sides together and tacked it all the way around. I then lined up the 2 edges of the band with the neckline of the bodice, stretching it slightly to make it fit. I then stitched it with a 1cm seam allowance, flipped it to the inside and topstitched it with my twin needle.

jazzy-moneta-party-dress-8If you follow me on instagram you’ll have seen that while at Sarah’s house I played with an overlocker for the first time. She had it all set up ready and it wasn’t as scary to use as I thought it would be – I feared the fabric would run away and cut itself in half before I knew what was happening! But it’s pretty much like a normal sewing machine, of course! Some of the insides (which I had time to do at Sarah’s) look lovely so I’m definitely a convert to overlockers, and I even got mine out the box for the first time, having bought it a couple of months ago! I managed to thread it but the stitches were all loopy and no matter how much I changed the tension, it didn’t fix it. Any ideas? Is it possible I did actually thread it wrong and it kind of works but not properly?

I’ll leave you with this outtake from my photos – this was me testing the camera set up, feeling really cold and wearing my glasses (which I took off for the photos!)

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Possibly my #MonetaParty Dress

This was going to definitely be my #monetaparty dress but I’m currently half way through another one which I like more, so that one may end up being my official entry for the competition/party. This one was probably more of a wearable toile!

But it does have pockets! This is my face when I have a dress with pockets!

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After asking on instagram, the consensus was to use this fabric which is navy with white flecks, instead of some teal stuff I also had in my stash – which I’m glad about now, because I think that will make a better Christine Haynes Marianne dress.

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I made the size xs and did have to take it in a little under the arms. I think because it’s quite a thin, drapey knit, it looked a bit saggy!

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I also sewed the waist seam with a 2cm seam allowance and not the 3/8″ that pattern says, because I felt it just sat slightly too low to be flattering. I have an H&M rtw dress that is a similar style to the Moneta, but without pockets and with a v-neck, and the waist seam is really quite high, so I was aiming for that, though it still isn’t quite the same.

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I do like the fabric, but when it’s stretched it goes white, the colour it is in the wrong side. The bodice therefore looks like it’s stretched too much, because the tiniest bit of stretch makes it look too stretched, because of the white showing through. I am wearing it with a navy vest underneath, which you can’t see, because it’s not really see-through, it just looks like it is, if that makes sense?

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Luckily without changing anything except the underarm seam, the xs size fits me snuggly across the back, which is the place I usually have issues with fit.

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The main issue with this dress, and what makes it a wearable toile, is that I messed up the neckline. I sewed it with a twin needle, but it didn’t quite catch the whole hem so I thought I could sew it again, overlapping one row of stitching so I ended up with 3, but that didn’t quite work. So I unpicked all the rows, and sewed it again. But by then the neck was stretched out and doesn’t look great. I wonder if I could rescue it a little with a neckband, but I’m not sure I like the dress enough to go to the extra effort.

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I decided to try full outfits that I’ll wear when wearing this dress, and I think it looks good with mustard yellow, with a cardigan done up (to hide the terrible neckline!).

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Even with the cardigan undone, it distracts from how wide the neck sits on my shoulders. And I’m sure people wouldn’t notice the neckline too badly if I don’t point it out!

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I also really like it with my Colette Astoria – it sits just at the right place to hit the waist seam. It looks like it could be a top and skirt. This is how I wore it to hang out with Sarah from Like Sew Amazing today to have a irl #monetaparty, where I sewed most of my second Moneta, which is looking more promising, as long as I don’t mess up the neckline again!

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I couldn’t resist showing you this outtake from my photoshoot, where The Boyfriend came out of the room which is behind the doors I use as my backdrop! You can’t see him, but I like the photo my camera, which was on a timer, took of me!

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Twin Mabels for Twin Sisters

You know how I was making those skirts for my sister for Christmas? Well one of the 3 I made in time for Christmas was a Mabel made out of this cool quilted jersey from Fabricland (though we got it in grey and it seems to be only available in khaki now).

This is mine:

my-grey-quilty-mabel-1And this is my sister’s:

phoebes-grey-quilty-mabelLike us the skirts are more fraternal (non-identical) twins than identical twins. They are both a size small – I traced off a size bigger in this pattern after the too-tight original Mabel I made a couple of years ago. Phoebe’s is 3 inches longer than mine, which was the length she requested. I made mine in the standard length for the pattern, which hits me just on the knee.

I’m pretty pleased with my pattern matching skillz on both, if I do say so myself! This is Phoebe’s:

phoebes-grey-quilty-mabel-3And this is mine:

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Mine isn’t quite as good as the  pattern isn’t uninterrupted – I’ve got two poofy bits and 2 flats bits (technical terms, obviously!) next to each other, when they should alternate. But at least the lines match up.

I managed to mostly match them on the waistband too, at least in terms of the vertical lines, if not the horizontal zigzags perfectly.

phoebes-grey-quilty-mabel-4Mine was a bit better matched across the back – sorry Phoebe! One of the back panels of hers ended up slightly on the wonk – I guess the fabric wasn’t perfectly folded in half. I haven’t done a huge amount of pattern matching, so I’m pretty pleased with how these turned out 🙂

my-grey-quilty-mabel-7I love the little kick pleat at the back!

my-grey-quilty-mabel-3These are definitely really quick skirts to sew up. At least they are when you don’t sew the waistband on upside down, without realising until you’ve finished the skirt and topstitched the top edge to stop it rolling. Though I’m just guessing that this would be really annoying and time-consuming to fix……… I actually didn’t topstitch the top edge of mine because I was feeling lazy!

my-grey-quilty-mabel-5I used a twin needle (heh!) for the hem and stitching in the ditch of the bottom of the waistband, and topstitching the top edge of Phoebe’s skirt, but for mine I just used a normal zigzag for the hem and stitching in the ditch. You actually really can’t see the stitching on this fabric, so it didn’t matter to me too much on my own whether it looked all professional like a twin needle makes it look.

my-grey-quilty-mabel-8I modelled the skirt with a tight rtw top tucked in, so you could see it, but I’ll really wear it with this black jumper in the Winter, and maybe my Astoria when the weather gets a bit warmer. I actually wore it exactly as in the above photo to work on Monday and I got quite a few compliments. And I love saying ‘thank you, I made it’ when I get complimented on something I’ve made. #sorrynotsorry.

Who would you like to wear matching clothes with?

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My first commission (sort of!)

A couple of weeks ago, one of my colleagues sidled up to me and asked if I would be able to sew something for a surprise party she was organising to celebrate the CEO working at the company for 20 years. The idea was to do a sort of raffle, but where all the names in the hat are the CEO because every team bought him a silly gift. So they wanted something to keep the gifts in, which is where I come in!

bag-for-work-2I made a sack! Like a Santa’s sack but in company colours instead of Christmas colours. I bought 1.5m of purple fabric from my local shop – it’s quite a sturdy cotton twill. And it matches the branding shade of purple pretty closely. I measured that the sack should be about 70cm x 85cm, with the writing (on the other side of the above photo) taking up 30cm x 50cm. I made a photoshop document of 30cm x 50cm, typed the writing and made it as big (in Tahoma font) as it would go, which was size 180pt.

bag-for-work-5I printed the letters, cut them out then cut 2 of each one out of the white fabric left over from my Quiet Books (1 & 2). I cut them out twice because I was worried a single layer wouldn’t be thick enough, and the letters wouldn’t look totally white. I zigzagged around the edge of each letter to help it not to fray. It took ages! There are 27 letters altogether!

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Another part of the branding/logo for my work is an ear of corn, so I used the leftover fabric from my Mustard Victoria Blazer and Astoria to applique it on. I drew the shape onto paper, then used that as a pattern. Because it’s a knit, I used a straight stitch rather than a zigzag to sew it on.

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I originally wasn’t going to make a gusset, but when I measured the fabric, it was about 30cm too long (folded in half) for the height I roughly wanted. So I measured 25cm from the ‘bottom’ (the fold was down one side), then cut off the 25 cm from both sides. I have one of these left as I only needed one for the gusset. I used my own tutorial from my tote bag post to put the gusset in because I forgot how to do it! And I used all french seams, to make it a bit stronger. I did cut through the fold on the side and sew the seam again, to make it uniform, but if you’re in more of a hurry, you could use the fold as either the bottom or one of the sides.

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The final thing to do was to sew a channel at the top for the drawstring – which is where the extra 5cm from the height comes in. I folded the top down by 1.5cm and stitched it, then folded it by another 3.5cm and stitched it again, as far away from the top of the bag as possible, to leave a channel for the ‘string’. You can leave a gap in this final line of stitching to get the drawstring in, but I decided to unpick the side seam a little (making sure the stitching lines were secured and unlikely to undo), so the drawstring wouldn’t pull the top of the bag inside out.

The CEO really liked the bag, and the fake raffle thing worked really well! Also, we were all convinced he knew about the party but he really didn’t which was pretty cool! I’ve called this my (sort of) first commission because I got the money for the purple fabric back, but I didn’t get paid for my time. I guess because it was for my day job, it was a slightly awkward situation. I did mentally add up how long it took me to make, and it was 9 hours – it took ages to cut out and stitch all the letters! If I was paid minimum wage for those hours, I would have earned £65 but all I got was the £8 for the cost of the purple fabric – I didn’t get money back for the fabrics and drawstring I already had in my stash. I did sort of mention that I should charge for my time, but then I chickened out. How do you justify your worth for work done? It’s not like I would do my admin paid work at home in my spare time, but I found it hard to charge for something I do for a hobby.

Selfless Sewing: Denim Moss Skirt for my Sister

I finally made the final skirt my sister asked for for Christmas a couple of weeks ago, yay! (Though I’ve got another one yet to blog) I decided to model it myself for some photos before sending it in the post. It is, of course, the Grainline Studio Moss Skirt.

denim-moss-skirt-1I have to say, I’m really quite pleased with this make. I like a simple skirt that has a front, a back and a waistband, but it was nice to make something a bit more complicated. And it has pockets!

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This was my first time sewing a fly, and I have to say it wasn’t as scary or as difficult as I thought it would be! The instructions for this pattern were really clear and easy to follow for the fly front. The only thing I found, though, was that the fly shield on the inside (which covers the zip on the inside) seems to be on backwards as the zig-zagged/ overlocked edge is the edge that shows then the zip is undone and the folded side is hidden, but I feel like it should be the flipped over. I know Jen from Gingerella also found this problem – which made me more convinced it wasn’t my mistake! She talks about it in this video, in case you don’t understand what I’m talking about!

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One of the things I really like about this pattern is the yoke on the back. I decided to use jeans-type top-stitching to make the skirt look like a proper denim skirt, and to show up the design lines that wouldn’t otherwise be obvious, like the yoke.

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I made the skirt in a size 6, and as eagle-eyed readers may spot, it’s a long version but without the band that is on the pattern for the long version. Phoebe didn’t really like the way that looked, so I extended the length of the mini skirt version instead, but 6.25 inches, to make it hit just below the knee.

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I was actually quite sad to have to give this skirt away to be honest, but luckily there was enough left of the denim for me to cut out a version for myself! You can tell I like it, by how many photos I’ve taken! I particularly like it with this striped top which my old boss gave to me! You can’t beat breton-style tops and denim!

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For the topstitching I used gutterman topstitching thread, in that goldy colour which I associate with jeans. I lengthened the stitch length to 4 (instead of my standard 2.5) and used blue thread in the bobbin, as there isn’t much topstitching thread on each roll because it’s so thick. I did have to play around with the tension a bit, because of having 2 different thicknesses of thread.
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If you follow me on instagram, you’ll already have seen that I used a jeans button for the first time on this skirt – sorry for the blurry photo, though! I was a bit scared to put the button on, because you can’t really move them once they’re on! I made the button-hole first and then made sure it all sat flat and straight and then marked where the button should go. And it all worked out okay!

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Here are some closer shots showing the topstitching. There is supposed to be a bar tack at the bottom of the fly shape, which sort of worked, but not really. If anyone has any tips of how to do that, I’m all ears!

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I did double rows of stitching on the centre seams and on the yoke, because it seemed right. Because the waistband is quite narrow, though, I thought one row of stitching would look best. I ummed and ahhed about the hem, and whether to sew it in matching or topstitching thread, and I’m glad I went for topstitching thread as it looks right.

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I used some thinner fabric for the waistband facing and the pocket linings. I think this might be the first time I’ve used contrasting fabric in this way, and I love it! This fabric is actually from a dress which my friend gave me in a big pile of things before I left London. The little dark flowers might look black from afar, but they are actually navy blue, which nicely matches the shade of blue of the denim.

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The pattern is really well drafted, so there’s absolutely no way the pocket linings will poke out to the right side, but it’s nice to get a flash of the lining when you look inside the pockets!

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My sister very obligingly took a photo of herself wearing the skirt – unfortunately it’s kind of teeny! The skirt looks a little big on me, because it’s a size bigger than I will make for myself, but it looks pretty perfect on her! Phew!

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Once I make my own denim version of this, it might become my favourite skirt pattern! Made in a smarter fabric, without the topstitching, and with a normal button, I think it will look smart enough for work.

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January Makes and February Plans

I can’t believe January has disappeared already – it seems 2017 is going to zip past as quickly as 2016 seemed to! And although I had modest plans for what to make in January, I only managed one of the 2/3 things I planned (I say 2/3 because the third thing was the trousers I was going to cut out, but not sew together).

The one things I did managed to make was the Denim Moss skirt for my sister. This was the 4th one I was supposed to make for Christmas, and I don’t think I did too badly getting it to her by the end of the month. I once made socks for 3 of my make friends and they were a whole year late by the time I finished them!

denim-moss-skirtThe Moss took a bit longer to make than I thought it would, but I really enjoyed making it. Having made pretty simple skirts the last few times I’ve made skirts, it was nice to make one with a bit more to it. And there should be enough of the denim left for me to make a matching one!

The reason I didn’t get my Toaster Sweater made or my trousers cut out was that I was away the first weekend in January, then The Boyfriend was away the weekend after that and I didn’t feel in the mood to sew, so I only really had 2 weekends where I sewed. And I had a couple of other things to make, one of which is my Secret Valentines Exchange present (which I’ve got a little bit left to do on). The other things was to make a santa’s sack – but not red or Christmas-themed – for work to celebrate the CEO working at the company for 20 years! We had a party last night which was good fun, and each department bought him a silly gift and I made a sack to put them all in.

sack-for-workThere is writing and stuff on the other side, so I’ll share more photos in a full post soon.

Hopefully February will be a bit more productive than January was!

The main thing on my list for this month – which has to be finished by the weekend of the 24th – is my Moneta for the #MonetaParty. This is also one of my #2017MakeNine so it’s even better! I have 2 option for fabric – if anyone has a strong opinion one way or the other, please let me know as I’m struggling to decide! I could make 2 but I doubt I’d get them both done in time.

teal-moneta

navy-monetaThe top one is teal and the bottom one is navy blue with white smudges – for some reason I couldn’t take good photos of either of them! They’re both quite thin and drapey so hopefully whichever I choose will look good. I think I’m leaning towards the navy one, but I do feel teal is a good colour on me……argh, decisions!

My other project for this month is to make my Toaster Sweater, which I shamefully haven’t even printed out yet! I have found some fabric, though, so I’m halfway there! I bought this nice, quite thick, silver ponte from my local sewing shop. It has a small amount of dressmaking fabric (and a lot of quilting fabric!) and I thought I should support them and buy dressmaking fabric so they hopefully keep stocking it. They have some nice needlecord at the moment too.

toaster-sweater-fabricI feel like I’m pushing it at this point, but here is my navy blue trousers…….yet again………seriously. I don’t know if I’m ever actually going to get around to making these!

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I think I need to not have to have a job to be able to make all the things I want to make! If anyone knows the secret to this, please let me know!

Electric Blue Jersey Dress

electric-blue-jersey-dress-1I made this dress back in December and, as I mentioned in my post about my December makes, I wore this to the Sew Brizzle Christmas meet-up, having  made it the day before. This has to be one of the quickest things I’ve ever sewn up. It really only took a few hours to make.

electric-blue-jersey-dress-3The fabric is the same enormous remnant I used for one of my Coco tops and I still have more of it left! There must have been over 3 metres of it! It’s ribbed on one side, which was the side I used as the right side for my Coco, but for this dress I used the smooth side for the outside, except on the hem band and neck band, where I used the ribbed side on the outside.

electric-blue-jersey-dress-4The pattern is the free Jersey Dress designed by Emily from In The Folds for Peppermint Magazine. You should check out their range of free patterns if you haven’t already, there are some great ones! And it has pockets! As you know if you’ve read my blog for any length of time, you’ll know how much I love pockets in dresses. These ones are cut on the sides of the dress front and back so it’s even quicker to put together (and cut out) than if the pockets were cut separately.

electric-blue-jersey-dress-5I actually really like the over-sized, cocoon-y nature of the shape of this dress. I made the size 10, which was the closest to my measurements, but I woulc recommend sizing down a size if you want a slightly less over-sized fit. The only change I made was to omit the cuffs as my jersey just wouldn’t stretch enough for the cuff pieces to fit on the ends of the sleeves. It is stretchy enough to go over my head, though, which is good! It turned out leaving off the cuffs was a good move as the sleeves would have been too long if I’d added them. Plus I don’t like not being able to roll up my sleeves and I feel even if I could have got them to fit, the cuffs would have been reeeeaaaaally tight.

electric-blue-jersey-dress-2I do really like this dress, it’s like wearing a secret blanket because the fabric is quite thick. Also I’ve been wearing it with a top underneath (instead of a cardigan on the top) to give me an extra layer of warmth. I even wore it on Christmas Day, though I got too warm because it was a really mild day and my sister’s house is really warm! I feel like it’s also just about smart enough for work, and I got loads of compliments on the colour the first time I wore it.

electric-blue-jersey-dress-6I think if I made this again, I would leave off the hem band as then I think it would be a slightly better length on me. This does feel quite long and although that isn’t necessarily a problem, I think it would be a more flattering length on me if it was a little shorter. I’m 5’3″ for reference, in case you’re going to make this and want to know how long it is on a short person!

Do you think you’ll make any of the Peppermint patterns? Do you have any recommendations of other patterns that are like secret blankets?

 

 

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