Random acts of kindness

Happy Valentine’s everyone. Did you all get my card? No? Dammit Royal Mail has gone to the dawgs I tell you…

I’ve been gradually getting back into the swing of things after my trip. I’ve fallen asleep three nights in a row on the sofa though! How come it takes longer to adjust to your old time zone than it does to your holiday one?

Anyhoo, I was finally compos mentis enough to start opening my post yesterday. To my delight, one of the packages was from the wonderful Marie of A Sewing Odyssey; I won her marvellous pattern giveaway just before I jetted off. What a fabulous home-coming present it was too.

Marie's pattern giveaway

Don’t you just love the detail across the yoke on the McCalls? Is that pin tucking? I adore it. And the Vogue dress is so glamorous – these will both be PERFECT for summer. Thank you so much Marie for these and your lovely note!

Also yesterday I received a truly unexpected present – of two rather gorgeous fabrics, from Japan no less! They were donated by a friend who had earmarked them for table linen but had since decided to go down the minimalist all-white route. My luck was in! Two metres or so each of this beautiful cotton. Love the patterns. Cassy, I salute you!

Cassie's fabric donation

Of course I’m tempted to use both of these for the Violet but I must desist from making up this pattern AGAIN for the time being. I’m so, so hideously behind on the Minoru sewalong. I’ve only cut out my fabric so far – how bad is that? By the time I finish this coat we’ll be breaking out the BBQ!

There won’t be much sewing done this weekend either as my lovely sis and niece are popping over from Belfast. We’re going to scare ourselves witless at the Blood and Tears tour of London’s darkest, bloodiest history,  click our heels together at a Wizard of Oz matinee and have a pint of Guinness on the beach at Whitstable. Howzat for a weekend?

Ooh and this was my Valentine’s pressie – we usually don’t do presents but he knew I wanted it – and it’s on vinyl. Hooray! It’s Beth Jeans Houghton and the Hooves of Destiny: Yours Truly, Cellophane Nose. I heartily recommend a listen. I first saw this little lady about four or five years ago in Hoxton, on her own with just a guitar. Now she’s got a full band. She is unbelievably talented and I regularly lurk her, so look out for me at London gigs! Thanks husband xxx

Beth Jeans Houghton

Here’s to 2011 sewing (and a sneaky peek at 2012)

What a year it’s been my fellow stitchers. After an action-packed first half of 2011 (I got married which is more than enough action for anyone, trust me!) I started this blog back in July with no idea as to whether I’d keep it up, or whether anyone would even be remotely interested in my witterings on re-learning to sew and the projects I’d work on. It’s been a total eye-opener, a huge learning curve and a downright chuckle too. But enough of the cliches. Here’s what I made this year:

The year in pics

Phew. I seriously am astonished at how much I’ve got through :) This is what I wrote in my first blog post:

“I want to get good at sewing. I want to improve on my very basic skills and be able to approach a new project with a good dose of confidence. I want to make cute buttonholes, sexy zips… I want to set sleeves dammit. I want to make trousers! Yes! Trousers!”

Trousers aside, I’m so SO incredibly delighted and I can’t wait for 2012. However I do know that I need to work on my techniques, finishing garments correctly, not taking shortcuts, reading pattern instructions BEFORE I start, reading them properly DURING the process, etc etc… basically all that fundamental stuff you guys do so well…

Here are the projects to help:

2012 sewing plans:

  • Having recently discovered Victory patterns I’m going to try out the Hazel dress. It’s too cute for words… so just look at the pics and I’ll shuttup…
  • The love affair with Colette continues. In 2012 I’ll be trying my hand at the Violet, the Ginger and the Negroni, as well as all those patterns from the Colette Sewing Handbook when time allows. Plus I’ll probably revisit the Peony.
  • My first sewalong with Sewaholic will commence in January with the Minoru jacket (as long as I get the right fabric in time)
  • I have yet to make New Look 6000  for Scruffy Badger’s fest but that’s something I’ll turn my attention to between Xmas and New Year – the perfect January dress.
  • I have a bunch of vintage patterns I want to do, including this adorable Simplicity 7845 (middle view and also a Scruffy Badger steal) and this Le-Roy 3133 (view A).
Vintage patterns
2012 sewing aspirations:
Less about specific projects – more about expanding my repertoire and developing my creativity…
  • I’d like to make some trousers: Specifically a pair with a high waist and a pair of pedal pushers.
  • I’d like to make a frothy romantic summer dress, gauzy and light with chiffon and satin and lace and something else gauzy and light but I don’t know my fabrics well enough to say what it is.
  • I’d like to get to know my fabrics better.
  • I’d like to get to know my body better and perhaps make a sloper or two that’s a perfect fit for me.
  • I’d like to draft an item all by myself using my new sloper.
  • I’d like to get into Pinterest a bit more. I signed up but haven’t really used it so much yet.
  • I’d like to really sort out my sewing room so it feels less like a cupboard I struggle to keep the cats out of and more like somewhere to dream/create/get inspired. (Who am I kidding – it’ll still be a mess and the cats will still get in…)

Lastly but most importantly, I’d like to meet (in person) some of you AMAZING women that have made this last six months such a fantastic time.  You are all awesome. Here’s to you <pops cork, clinks glasses>.  Have a blooming lovely Chrimbo and a very debaucherous NY. See you on the other side. Joanne xxx

A cocktail and a beignet

The mists and mellow fruitfulness dress

It’s a beautiful autumnal afternoon here in London. This morning we drew the blinds to see a mist wafting through the streets. What a gorgeous time of year. I’m so happy to have finished and named my new dress: The mists and mellow fruitfulness dress! I’m wearing it to a wedding next weekend which is a big deal – I’ve never been so bold as to wear one of my dresses to a big ticket event. Here goes…

The pattern is McCalls 2401 which I made earlier this year in a green polka dot. The fabric is a beautiful 100% vintage silk from Liberty which I picked up at a vintage fair for £15.

McCalls 2401: Mists and mellow fruitfulness

I was determined to make this dress as nice on the inside as it is on the outside, so I turned and stitched the seams where I could (side and sleeve seams) and pinked the rest of them.

Inside view

It was only when I was putting the finishing touches to the dress that I realised I had a beautiful vintage buckle which I bought in Norwich earlier this year. It was so easy running up a little belt. I think it just adds that extra special detail.

Vintage belt buckle

The fabric was very keen to fray, especially round the hem. I originally decided to bind the edges with a soft pink bias binding before hemming normally but once I added it I loved the little shot of soft pink at the bottom and decided to leave it there. Plus I like this length. Bonus!

Can you see the binding?

I have a peachy grey fur stoll to wear with it and I need to get some fancier tights. I’m slightly worried about creasing but I’ll be wearing a slip on the day so hopefully that should reduce wrinkles.

I only wish I knew how to add lining to dresses. This frock is crying out for a lining to really give it some longevity and feel more sturdy. One day…

Forgive those under-eye bags – it was a late one last night!

In other news – yesterday was the best sewing-related news day… ever. I got an honorable mention from Tilly about the blog (hooray!), the postman delivered my Minoru pattern (whoop!) and I won Handmade Jane’s giveaway for the most gorgeous snood, inspired by Karen’s snood-around-the-world and knitted by Jane’s very own mum! Unbelievable. It doesn’t get better than that, does it?

Right, I’m off to have some butternut squash soup. Yum.