Works in progress

Updates from the sewing room

Hallo peeps – how is your run up to Christmas going? Is it the calm before the storm, are you in a whirlwind of frenetic sewing and buying and cooking, or have you finished all your preparations to the festive season and popped your slippered feet up for a well-deserved rest? Me? I’m somewhere in between. I’m pretty sure I’ve bought everything I need to with the exception of one present. The turkey and the sausage meat is ordered and the wine is in. So it’s time for some bonus sewing!

With the exception of Ann and Dale’s dressing gowns I hadn’t planned to give any handmade gifts this year. For one, I didn’t think I’d be able to do something so well that the recipient would love it and forsake a store-bought version for it, and for another – I don’t know that many people who would like handmade gifts to be honest. Maybe as bonus gifts to the real thing…

Which is what I’m doing! Over the weekend I did a bit of stash-busting. I have so many fat quarters (oi! oi! stop that sniggering at the back) I don’t know what to do with them and quite a lot of leftover fabric from other home-type projects like cushions etc.  This tutorial for making a double oven glove is brilliant. It’s so incredibly easy. I bought a couple of metres of Insul Bright filler from Doughty’s (think it was Handmade Jane that provided the link in one of her blog posts) and got to work. It only took a couple of hours – and here it is.

Oven mitts

There’s just one thing stopping me from giving this away as a gift. My bias binding was a little slim which meant there’s a teeny bit where it’s not quite pulled under one of the pouches. Try as I might to unpick and redo this bit it just kept slipping free so I’m going to fix it with a few hand stitches and keep it for myself. I’ve ordered  a bunch of wider bias binding so once that’s arrived I’ll get on with knocking out a few more.

Simplicity 3835

I’ve cut out my pieces for Simplicity 3835 (mini dress view) in a lovely seersucker teal cotton. I’m quite excited about this one. I’m hoping it will be a nice simple project to get on with while I wait (and wait and wait…) for New Look 6000 to land on my doormat. Why won’t the internet elves hurry up? You’d think they had something better to be getting on with. Hmph.  Want to join Scruffy Badger’s sewalong. Although it’s great seeing posts as they come in as I’m getting loads of tips on underlining and fitting before I even start.

I’m on the lookout for fabric now for the Minoru jacket sewalong starting in January. I’m thinking a soft grey corduroy outer shell with a teal/polka dot lining. What do you think? Any good tips for quality (but affordable) corduroy? I’ve just read that Suzy is doing the same sewalong, and I’m pretty certain Karen is which is ace. Anyone else?

Finally I have a UFO lurking in my sewing room. The Trudy-tribute coat is gathering dust motes at the moment. I’m not quite sure if I can return to it yet. I’m not quite sure that it can still be termed the Trudy-tribute coat either to be honest – I think it will be very different. But that’s cool – it could wait until spring as it would be too light to wear over winter anyway.

So that’s me. What about you? Are you itching to get on with a project pour toi and cursing all those evil lifelong friends and family for making you do selfless sewing? Or is it actually quite nice to have a change?

Oh, before you go, here’s a pic of Keef ‘n’ Gracie doing their seasonal Nativity play. Keef wanted to play Mary… again…

Cat nativity

Christmas stockings for little paws

My sister has three dogs. Yes – that’s three dogs. They’re called Nancy, Clint and Nacho and apparently they all wanted a Christmas stocking with a bone in it come Christmas morning. So my sister called me up and asked me would I be prepared to make each of them a little stocking, just big enough to fit a bone in. And more fool me, I said yes.

Actually this only took an hour or so per stocking so it was a quick and fun little project to do. And who could refuse these little faces?

Clint, Nancy and Nacho

So here you are Nancy, Clint and Nacho – these are for you!

Doggy stockings

Nacho stocking

My first handmade Christmas presents

It’s been a busy week or so round our way: my husband’s mum and stepdad came to visit us before flitting off to beautiful Thailand for four months of beach-lounging, Thai cookery and general lazing about (very much deserved of course but we can all allow a little envy!).  Then it was the work Christmas party on Thursday to which I wore my very own handmade dress for the second time in a month – yay!

Having the in-laws over meant that I could give them their handmade Christmas presents, which I’ve been itching to share but haven’t been able to for obvious reasons. I really wanted to make them something but had to think carefully about what I could make that they could take away with them. And then I thought – dressing gowns! Of course! Nothing better than relaxing on your own sun-drenched terrace, sipping iced lemon tea and flicking lazily through a paperback… in a custom-made dressing gown.

I hotfooted it to Walthamstow market for the fabric as I knew I could get some good deals, have lots of choice and still not break the budget. My pattern (Butterick B5537) called for SIX METRES of fabric which seemed ridiculous. In the event I got four metres for each gown as I wanted to reduce the length to something more summery anyway. It took just less than three metres of fabric for each in the end.

Dressing gown B5537

For Ann’s I chose a beautiful satin that just drapes gorgeously. It was a slippery little bugger to sew though. I gave up on adding a pocket in the end because it slid about like a drunk little stitchandwitter weaving her way home from a xmas works do. My pinking shears did not like this fabric one little bit. They chewed at it, rather than slicing through it, which means although the dressing gown is lovely and neat on the outside, it’s a different story with the seam finishes on the inside. But another lesson learnt nonetheless.

Dale is not a slinky slippery silky fabric sort, thank goodness. For him I chose a brushed plaid cotton, which may just be a touch too warm for where he’s going but he said he going to wear it anyway, bless him. Much easier to sew and since it was the second version, much quicker too. I didn’t get a pic of Dale’s on the dummy but here it is neatly folded and ready to wrap!

Dressing gown B5537

This is a pretty easy project if you want to try it, although if (like me) you’re used to the excellent instructions that come with Colette patterns then trying to work your way through the illustrations and slightly cryptic details may be frustrating at first. I still have so much to learn when it comes to understanding regular patterns.

But never mind all that – here’s a picture of Ann and Dale in all their handmade finery!

Ann and Dale in their dressing gowns!

Bon voyage Ann and Dale! We miss you! We love you! xxx

On the home straight

My goodness this dress is taking its own sweet time… but nearly there now. Just the sleeves and the hem to finish off.

Liberty Silk McCalls 2401 full

Remember I had some awful water stains on the fabric early on in this project? Well after a root around the internet for advice on removing water stains from silk, I found a great tip. Just boil a kettle and take the lid off so lots of steam is rising up and the kettle keeps boiling. Hold the stained fabric above the kettle (making sure not to get splashed by boiling water of course). The stains just magically disappear! Genius! I’ve not got rid of every single one yet though – I need a weekend and lots of daylight to do that.

Liberty silk McCalls 2401 bodice

I’ve found the silk to be medium tricksy. No slippery ways or anything – just has a tendency to fray quite a lot. I’ve also used some of Tasia’s tips on finishing seams, although I have to say mine aren’t quite so perfect. I’ll share pics and details once it’s completely finished. Apologies for the creases in the fabric. For obvious reasons I’m rather afraid of using the iron on this at the moment!

As the nights are drawing in my mind is increasingly turning towards Christmas and how ill-prepared I am. I haven’t bought a thing yet. We’re doing a not-so-secret-santa this year amongst us siblings and partners so it’s certainly easier just buying for one person instead of five (not including the husband, aged p’s and nieces and nephews of course). But I’m thinking of knocking up a few wee handmade gifts as little treats too. I’ve bought a bag of ‘flex frames’ (they’re those bendy metal snap-shut things that you get on kids purses and glass cases) so I’m thinking of doing some mobile phone covers using up some fabric scraps. Plus I’ve just bought some heat-protective wadding so maybe a pot holder/oven glove? I blame Crafty Christmas Club. I had no  intention of making handmade gifts but now I feel like it’s absolutely essential! I shake my tinselled fists at you Tilly Buttons!