Posted in Evening Class Reflective Journal, My Musings, Sewing

Evening Class – Term 2

Oops! I had previously published this post but somehow managed to delete it whilst on my phone earlier today.  However having found an earlier draft I think I have re-added the main points.

Its a New Year and new term for my Sewing Classes.  This term I will be using my blog (specifically this post and its links) as my reflective journal for the term.

In the class there is a mix of familiar faces and new joiners.  I was pleased to see that my returning course colleagues also hadn’t spend all Christmas sewing as we had planned and were also carrying on with their projects where they had left off.

Going into this term I have

  • my bag to continue with
  • A Tilly & The Buttons Cleo Dungaree Dress to make
  • but my main aim is to learn to sew knits
    which is the first of my 2017 sewing aspirations.

Here is what I got up to:

Week 1 
Intro week, we kicked off with ice breakers, ran through some notices and then I went back to my bag.  My teacher told me a different way to connect the straps at the bottom of the bag, which I took a couple of less than successful attempts at.

Week 2 
We started out with some more paperwork , signing our learning agreements for the term.
I made a start on my Toaster sweater taking advantage of the big high tables I cut out my pattern pieces.  I had a little time at the end of class so started sticking together my pdf pattern for my Sew Over It Cowl Neck Dress.

Week 3
As I had completed my Toaster Sweater at home and finished sticking together my pdf pattern for the Sew Over It Cowl Neck Dress.
I turned up in my Toaster Sweater to show everyone and spent the evening cutting out my paper pattern then laying it out to check if I had enough of my Teal ponte left to make the dress version.  I think I just do and I have some cheep jersey left so I cut out my pattern pieces out in that and will use that as a fit test again.
I was set a challenge by my teacher to think about how I could make myself some pattern cutting weights (I think everyone is sick seeing my low tech tins and jars that I keep bringing to class).

***Having been paid I’ve booked onto the summer term before it gets full***

Week 4 
I didn’t finish my sister’s curtains at the weekend so started the evening ironing and sewing up her second curtain.
Once that was done i continued working on my my test version Cowl Neck Dress pinning and sewing up the shoulders and side seams.
During the evening we also had a quiz (because this is an Adult Learning class it has to include literacy & numeracy) on fibers and fabric – it wasn’t scored but if it was my team would probably have won.

Week 5 & 6
I was unwell and unable to attend class 😦

Week 7 
With only minimal changes required I made a start on my Cowl Neck dress final version cutting out the pattern pieces in my green ponte de roma.  I had just enough fabric left after my Toaster sweater to cut out all my pieces.  I can’t easily tell the right and wrong sides so I marked them up in chalk to keep track of which side was the inside.

Week 8
Having done some overlocking at home I stitched my front and back pieces together.  Then making the main change to the order I am constructing the dress this time round I attached the twin needle and sewed up my arm cuffs whilst they were still flat and unattached.

Week 9
Tonight was about attaching the arms to the main dress (with the front and back of the dress only attached at the top.  This was much easier than inserting the arm and trying to balance the stretch of a circle within a circle.  It also means that I will be able to sew up the side of the dress and just follow the join down the arm in one long seam.  The arms went on well but I did have a few small puckers but I managed to steam them out with the iron.

Week 10
I made progress on my working on my Tilly & the Buttons Cleo Dress.  With great difficulty I had cut out the fabric pattern pieces at home.  I started construction sewing the centre front and back seams, for making the large front and back pieces.  Leaving them so I could overlock the raw edges at home I moved on to sewing up and turned over the straps.

Week 11
End of term assessment – I passed phew, when you include my practice versions I have completed a good number of garments this term.  When not having my one on one assessment I continued work on my T&TB Cleo by attaching the straps to the back of my dress and then cut out the interfacing for the facings.

In Summery
I have achieved my main aim which was to sew knits.
I no have a better understanding of knit fabric and feel more confident using it in my sewing machine.  As well as single ball point needles I have also used twin needles on my knits and I have used my overlocker for sewing knit fabric.
I have completed 2 practice pieces and an my final toaster sweater.  With my Cowl neck dress nearly finished.
Since the beginning of term I have also made progress on my bag and my Cleo Dungaree Dress.
Additionally I successfully took up a pair of curtains.

Posted in My Musings, Sewing

Sewing Aspirations 2017 and beyond

I haven’t been sewing that long and although I have already surprised myself with some of the things I have made I’m still very much a beginner.

Since deciding to take up sewing I’ve spend a lot more time thinking/daydreaming and shopping (patterns and fabric) than actually sewing.

It being January I thought this would be a good time to roughly order and categorize some sewing projects I want to take on in the future.  I have different types of materials I want to try and ideas for projects where I want to focus on making something really well as opposed my sewing gratification to date which has been ta-da I’ve made something.

I don’t want to tie myself down to a firm list of things I must make and when by as I think that could get pressurised, stressful and less fun.  So with no guarantee or commitment here are my sewing plans and daydreams:

2017 aspiration – #SewMyStyle

I’ve already signed up to this and purchased 6 patterns.  I wrote a post when I signed up and went on a mini spending spree for those 6 patterns.  Since then I have taken stock and decided that I want to make the the 6 patterns I have purchased plus the August make; Megan Nielsen – Darling Ranges Dress because I love that dress.  When the December pattern is announced I’ll make a decision on that but I think just making those 7 will be challenging enough.  Because I also have some other sewing ambitions for 2017…


2017 aspiration – Sewing Knits
Cowl Neck Shopify NewCoco dress or top – speedy sewing pattern by Tilly and the ButtonsSew Over It Heather Dress sewing pattern :: dressmaking patterns and online sewing classes from our online fabric shop
Its a little daunting and maybe a bit early but I want to try and sew some jersey.
The #SewMyStyle January’s Toaster Sweater No2 is a jersey make so that works out well.
I purchased some teal ponte before xmas and I had planned to use it to make a Tilly & the Buttons Coco but with time ticking along I think I will check the stretch and if is at about 20% it could try make a nice Toaster sweater with it instead.
I really want to make a Coco too, so I think that will be a slightly later jersey make.  I’m now thinking Sew Over it Cowl Neck Top, then Tilly & the Buttons Coco dress and then Sew Over it Heather Dress.
If I make all of them then that is me set for what to wear until it warms up in the Spring and then again for Winter 2017.


2017 aspiration – Overlocker Development
I feel that threading and a tiny bit sewing with my overlocker was 2016 achievement.  But I am not confident or competent with it.  So this year I would like to learn more, get a better understanding of how it works and what can be done with it.  I purchased a Craftsy class in the sales think working my way through that class during the year would be a good aim.


2017 ish aspiration – Trousers
In 2016 I made 2 tops (Sorbetto Hack 1 & Hack 2), 2 skirts (Gathered & Box Pleats) and a dress (Bettine) so trousers seem the next logical step.
I have 2 patterns already purchased
Cali Faye Hampshire Trouser – part of the #SewMyStyle October Make
Sew Over It Ultimate Trousers – I have the pattern AND some material that just says trousers.  I want to try and really focus on fit when I make these, take my time, pay attention and make alternations until I have  a perfectly fitting pair of trousers.
The idea of trousers is daunting but the Sew Over It website has some sewaong guides, which I plan to utilise.
   Ultimate Trousers Sewing Pattern


2017 or 2018 aspiration – More complicated with More care
A fancy lined wool dress.
I have also purchased Joan Dress pattern from Sew Over It along with some lovely (and way more expensive than my usual economically priced fabric) Aubergine Melton Wool.  I want to really take my time on this one, not just because it is complicated but because I want to achieve a really good finish.  I fell in love with this dress when I first saw it and purchased it and the wool immediately even though I know I’m not ready to make a good job of it yet.


2017 or 2018 aspiration – Shirt/shirt dress
Not sure if I will get on to this but later in the year or maybe even next year I want to give this a go as I have been coveting a Tilly & The Buttons Rosa shirt dress.  Again as a more complicated make, new techniques and something I would need to take care and time over.  Part of me wants to run away from things like shirt collars buttons but that is also the challenge of it.
Rosa shirt dress sewing pattern - Tilly and the Buttons


Some day (post 2017) dreams
Vintage Patterns
Evening dress
Coco Channel Style Jacket
Underwear (including and wired bra)

Posted in Evening Class Reflective Journal, My Musings, Sewing

Evening Class – First Term

After a wait of a couple of months it was finally time for my new sewing class.

As predicted being a beginner/intermediate class the other candidates all seem to know what they are doing and are getting on with complicated sewing projects.

There are a few other newbies in the class but most are continuing from a previous term.

I am enjoying garment making in a room with other people and having an instructor who I can call on when I get stuck.

My main work/learning points from each class have been

Week 1 – Intro and measuring ourselves

Week 2 -Was bring your project to get started – My first project is Box Pleat Skirt from my Sewing Bee book.  During the class I made a tracing pattern for my skirt including lengthening it.

Week 3 -I cut out my fabric including taylor tacks for my box pleats.  Well I used taylor tacks on the box pleats at the back but cheated on the front and just used my fabric pen.

Week 4 -Box Pleat Skirt was put on hold because I to make our Halloween costumes.

Week 5 -Box Pleat Skirt still on hold.   Carried on with Halloween costume.  Then when I got home I unpicked everything and decided to start over.

Half Term Break – I spent part of the evening (and part of last weekend) continuing with my Haloween costumes and then rushed to get them finished on the day of the party.  See them here.

Week 6 – Back to my Box Pleat Skirt, I sewed up my box pleats -(not the original design but I like the look better).  I also managed to accidentally pull out some of my tailors tacks from a few weeks back whilst figuring out what to do, which really just re-affirmed to me that I do better with my trusty marker pen.
**Also found out lots of new people had booked onto the next round of classes in the new year so quickly got myself booked back on before the places ran out***

Week 7 – Box Pleat skirt is taking shape, I had sewed up the sides, added the zip and attached the waist band at home.  I sewed up the waistband and asked how I should do the hem, which included a quick lesson on blind hemming with the sewing machine.  – I decided I would do this at home with time and my own iron.  See my finished skirt here.
I then moved on to starting to stick my PJ pants pattern together, I had 24 A4 pieces of paper to stick together so took over two additional desks.

Week 8 -New Project – Sewing Machine Bag.
I drew what I wanted from my sewing machine bag, took some measurements, added them to my drawing then drew out a layout plan.

Week 9 – I measured drew out my pattern, and cut out my fabric, in preparation for sewing up and bagging out.

Week 10 – Having sewed my 3 layers together in class I added a second layer of stitches for strength and then pulled through my material so the outsides were on the outside.  I then added a another layer of stitches round the edge to hold everything in place.  I hand sewed the gap i left for bagging out & went home to have a think.

Week 11 – Having ordered my handle strap webbing, & then some plastic that I though would be good to put in the bottom of the bag to give some strength and rigidity.  I went to class to ask my teacher if she agreed I should unpick my hand sewing, sew a channel for the plastic and slip it in before sewing up again.  She recommended I didn’t and just covered the plastic in material and placed in the bottom of the bag. I started pinning my straps to my bag (will be easier to sew whilst material is still flat and not bag shaped, as will my front outside pouch pockets. (Link to bag post will follow when finished)

In our sub group of newbies as well as our individual projects we are being talked through/occasionally helping with a teacher sewing project.

Week 1 – Picking pattern, identifying sizes etc
Week 2 – Taylor tacks, pinning pattern and cutting out fabric
Week 3 – Why make a toile?
Look at the toile the teacher made and identify adjustments/changes to be made.
Week 4 – No extra lesson
Week 5 – Sewing a Zip, standard sip (no lapped, not invisible) technique was to have where the zip was to go tacked together then sew in the zip and unpick – worked really well.
Week 6 – Sewing round a curve, using (and how to make a homemade) a seam allowance measuring tool.
Week 7 – Thread for sewing machines.  We looked at and tested various threads people had resigning many to, could you for tacking/bin.  However I was pleased that my vintage gray thread passed the strain/snap test, so I could carry on using it.
I also had a quick lesson on blind hemming
Week 8 – Sugar bagging – individual lesson, learning what it was and how easily it can be done.
Week 9 – No extra lesson
Week 10 – Working with pattern fabric, our example for discussion was check fabric and skirt pattern
Week 11 – We had 1 to 1  for our end of term review, which went fine, I passed and will be back next term.

And that is was it, I’m booked in for Term 2 starting in the New Year, and I’ve been told I can use my blog as my reflective journal for my course next term 🙂

Posted in My Musings, Sewing

#SewMyStyle – Sign Up

I have interrupted my backlog of posts with some time sensitive news:

I compulsively follow Emily’s blog  which is where I first read about #SewMyStyle a 12 month sew-a-long starting in January 2017 there are 12 garments and you commit to making one each month.  By the end of the year you have made yourself a capsule wardrobe.Sounds great doesn’t it.  You can find out more about #SewMyStyle  here
and sign up too.

The organisers have negotiated discounts from the pattern companies involved.  As soon as I received my email with discount codes I went a little crazy.
So that is me now on a spending ban (other than xmas presents for other people) for the month so I will have to wait for the next set of discount codes before getting the rest.

Here is the pattern/garment list with my initial thoughts:

SewHouse7 –  Toaster Sweater

Ordered -Paper Pattern
Treated myself to the Paper Pattern (shipping from the USA – ouch!)
I had already planned to attempt to sew a knit in the new year so I guess I will just have to get on with that aim early.

Named Clothing –Saunio Cardigan

Still to purchase
I’m out of money but have til February to get this one so I’ll wait until the second round of discount codes.
My note to myself for February is that I want the pdf pattern because the paper pattern does NOT include seem allowances and I do not know how to deal with that.

Megan Nielsen – Virginia Leggings

I think I might save some money by not purchasing this pattern, I have a leggings pattern in my GBSB Book that I already have a post-it it on for my long term make at some point in the future list. If I do it will be another new challenge for me as I’ve never worked with a stretch fabric.

Sew House 7 – Bridgetown Dress

Ordered – Paper Pattern
This is my other the Paper Pattern (being shipping from the USA, lucky I got a discount)
The description says ‘The simple styling makes it quick and easy to sew.’ – which sounds like a pattern for me.
I think this is a dress I could get a lot of wear from, and could wear to work through summer.

Califaye Collection – Pocket Skirt

Ordered – PDF pattern
I do like pockets on a skirt. I’m less sure I like the look of the gathers on the front between the pockets, but I like the colour of the fabric in the picture  and the casual linen skirt look.  I’m slightly concerned that the difficulty rating is Intermediate / Advanced on this one.

Megan Nielsen – Briar Tee and Sweater

Still to purchase 
I won’t be making the cropped version.  I think the longer version with long sleeves will be the one for me.

Cali Faye Collection – Valley Blouse 

Ordered – PDF pattern
I really like the look of this blouse, very relaxed and summery.  My only concern is ‘DIFFICULTY: Intermediate’

Megan Nielsen – Darling Ranges Dress

Still to purchase I’m out of money so will have to buy this next year.
My first thought was that I already want to buy the Tilly & The Buttons shirt dress some time next year so do I really want to buy this one too?  I looked at it a bit more and thought YES I do want this one too.  Not just because there is no collar but also, check out the pockets, and look at the other 2 options, loose shirt dress with no gathers and shirt.  I think my first problem on this one will be deciding which version to make!

Named Clothing – Yona Wrap Coat

I’ve already decided I’m going to skip this one.  Not just because it’s an advanced pattern and I’m a beginner but because I have way too many coats already.  So will save my pennies and not buy/make something just for the sake of it.

Cali Faye _ Hampshire Trouser 

Ordered – PDF pattern
Again I really like the look of these trousers.
There are tutorials for this pattern which I am going to need as the difficulty rating on this one is ‘Advanced’ – Oh dear :/

By Hand London – Anna Dress

Ordered – PDF Pattern
Its ‘Super quick and simple to make’ and was one of the most reasonably priced, even before the discount so I snapped it up.

Named Clothing – TBC from new collection
Image result for mystery box
Will just have to wait and see on this one.

In Summery
I have purchased 2 new paper patterns and 4 new pdf patterns from 3 new-to-me pattern companies.  I plan to buy another 3 or 4 patterns from 2 more new-to-me pattern companies.
I’m skipping 2 of the patterns, one of which I might replace with a pattern I already have.
I don’t think I am looking forward to putting together all these pdf patterns, but you never know maybe I will learn to love them, and think it is fun playing the floor is lava don’t step on it with all these printed sheets all over my living room floor.
Overall my 2017 sewing plans with the above plus some of the other sewing plans I have will give me quite the handmade wardrobe in 2017.

Posted in My Musings, Uncategorized

Sewing Course

As much as I have enjoyed teaching myself how to sew so far I thought it would be a good idea to do some classes to get some guidance.

I found a one day course called Sewing – Dressmaking – Get Started, suitable for complete beginners and though that was for me.  I’ve had to wait a little while for the course to start and during that time I have been figuring things out and completed my first two projects.

So finally the day of my course came so I packed up my machine and headed out to learn how to make a dress.

I picked up some good tips and info early on, going through different thread and needles (I’m not sure the previous thread i have purchased is the right sort of thread and have since been back to the shop and have started buying Gutermann thread).

Then our exercises started.

I was ahead of the rest of the class as I can confidently set up my machine for sewing and winding the bobbin and I was given some sewing practice sheets to keep me occupied.
We then moved on to putting stitches in material and exploring the different stitches that our machine can do.  Again I had done all this previously, also having a much older machine I didn’t have as many experiments as some of the other candidates who could set up their machines to write letters and things.

We then moved on to zigzagging raw edges, sewing skirt edges together, pressing seems out and zigzagging in a straight line to hold a thread in the middle for gathering.

Yip all things I have done before.

I did learn I have picked up some bad habits, I haven’t been looped my needle thread before starting and I haven’t been holding my thread end, so I have got some things to work on.  I went off to lunch feeling pretty good about my sewing ability.

After lunch we went on to sewing modern stretch fabric and it all went downhill. I just couldn’t get a good zigzag through the fabric.  We all changed our needles and everyone else was sewing their zig zags and then all the fancy other stretch stitches their machines could do but just couldn’t get a zig zag line.

Eventually I showed the tutor, demo-ing how I could zigzag on canvas but then not on the stretch fabric and my theory is because my machine pre-dates this sort of stretch fabric is isn’t designed to sew stretch fabric so can’t.  If anyone has any better ideas or solution suggests I would love to hear them because this has come as a bit of a blow.  Though I still love my machine and have lots of lovely cotton to sew some upcoming projects.

We ended the day looking at measurement and talking about patterns, this is probably my best take away from the day as now can be confident on my measurements as I select pattern sizes.  It was helpful not to be the only person in the class finding out that my sewing pattern size is bigger than my shop size.

Overall I enjoyed the day, it was fun sewing with other people and learning so I have booked on another course, this time an evening course of 11 weeks.  This course is called Sewing – Garment Making – Beginners/Improvers I expect I won’t be ahead of the curve when I turn up this time.

Posted in My Musings, Sewing

What I have done so far

So I inherited a sewing machine and want to start using it.

Things I have done so far

  • had my sewing machine serviced
  • sewed some lines
  • booked a into sewing course
  • purchased some fabric, patterns, threads, pins
  • watched some tutorials on YouTube
  • downloaded some patterns
  • made 2 baby bibs – only slightly wonky
  • made a small fabric box to put my scraps of material when I cut them off – not sure what I will do with it when it is full – other than sew up the last bit.
  • watched the latest series Great British Sewing Bee (GBSB)
  • purchased some sewing books (GBSB)
  • purchased more fabric
  • purchased a cutting surface and ruler
  • Started making a skirt ish following an online tutorial
  • purchased some tracing paper and fabric pen
  • cleared my dining room table and made a sewing corner

Things I have learned

  • Fabric is pricey
  • I need to wash fabric before I makes stuff with it
  • I need to take care measuring and cutting
  • There is method to the madness that seems to be putting stuff together backwards and the wrong way round.
  • Zips are tricky
  • I need to measure and cut things carefully (listed twice as I’ve been pretty slap dash so far)
  • my waist measurement is even bigger than I though