Friday, 26 August 2011

Hamming it up

Not a great picture :-) I had been meaning to make myself a tailors ham for years, but never got around to it. I used rolled up towels and cushions to press shoulder seams and other curved seams, it never worked very well. I went to buy a ham, both in Spain and the UK, but they always seemed very expensive for what they were, and not particularly well made.

I decided to sew these up while I was waiting for the fabric to make the retro-bombshell dress following Gretchen's online course - just look at all those curved seams!

Now I don't know why I waited so long! They were quick and easy to make and are so useful, I have used them a lot already and can't believe I was struggling along without them before.

I had been put off from making them, not knowing what to stuff them with, but a 2 minute internet search told me that sawdust was the best option. I bought some wood shavings, sold as bed bedding and this worked well. I used two layers of fabric for wach side, one of calico and then an outer layer, a scrap of cotton upholstery fabric for one side and a scrap of I-don't-know-what upholstery fabric for the other side - much cheerier than the ones I have seen for sale locally! The only slightly fiddly bit was stuffing them, I had hoped to be able to pack in more wood shavings in the ham, but it is curved enough and really helps pressing the curved seams, I don't think I could have got a good result on the bodice without it!

Monday, 22 August 2011

No bending over!

Corset, originally uploaded by soja.

First go, just to practise creating something closely fitting and boned. I used the free Jacci Jaye pattern at Burdastyle for an underbust and some curtain/upholstery fabric scraps.

The biggest problem with the bodice boning, was cutting it - the cheap mini-bolt cutters (Silverline 8") I bought from ebay made it much easier this time. :-) I bought the busk and eyelets/grommets from ebay, the lacing from 'The Sewing Chest' and the boning from Vena Cava.

Not sure if/when I will wear it, but it seems to have worked quite well. We are doing lots of work on the Tudors this year, so it might come in handy at one point!

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Perfect Fit!

Perfect Fit!, originally uploaded by soja.

Another task that I had meaning to do ticked off!

I bought the cotton for this months ago when I saw it on ebay. It is 100% cotton made for sheeting, so was already the right width for my queen size bed. I just needed to cut a 12.5" square from each corner to make it the same size as my other sheets from habitat. I followed the instructions from my trusty old Collins Complete Book of Needlework, but used French seams to finish the corners instead of zig-zagging, probably quicker, definitely neater and more hard wearing.

I thought about making the sheet as the price of smooth cotton sheets seemed a bit more than I could afford at the moment and this was on special offer and I was looking for backing material for my (not yet sewn) quilt for my bed. I think I paid about £20 for 5m of this, enough to make the sheet, back the quilt, and maybe a couple of pillow cases too.

I could have made the sheet a little tighter, but chose to make it the same size as my other sheets in case I ever get a deeper mattress. The cotton is tightly woven, soft and smooth, I would have preferred it not to be printed and not to have the slight sheen that it has, I hadn't realised this when I saw it on ebay, but the feel, Lucky agreed, was fine!

Friday, 12 August 2011

Dad's Quilt

Dad's Quilt, originally uploaded by soja.

I grabbed the opportunity to get photos yesterday while we had some sunshine! Just as well as it has been grey and windy nearly all day today.

Mum loved her quilt, it is used everyday, and Dad feels the cold terribly as a result of his treatment so hinted that he really wanted a quilt of his own. I was happy to take up the hint, and it turned out that Dad had already thought a bit about this as he knew that he had some old, favourite shirts somewhere that were either too stained or worn to be donated to charity. In the end he gave me a pile of seven shirts of various thicknesses and cotton/poly blends.
I saved the thickest shirt for the binding and used the other six to piece the front. I was worried that there wouldn't be enough contrast, and Dad loves colour as evidenced by these shirts, so I added in the red print from my stash. I remember buying it from Whipstitch, but can't remember the designer/pattern details.
The design is based on a pattern in Karen Snyder's book "Bundles of Fun". She uses 12 fat quarters and makes a bigger square quilt. I used her technique, but adjusted the size of my strips, based on the size of my ruler (lazy ;-)), the material that I had and the final size of quilt that I wanted - big enough to cover up Dad on the sofa.
This ended up being the biggest quilt I have made, easily big enough for a single bed I think.
I used one side of a double duvet cover for the backing and the wadding is Quilter's Dream green batting, made from 16 recycled plastic bottles.
I quilted in straight lines along the zigzags, about 1/4 inch from each seam using two different variegated threads (Gutermann hand and machine 100% quilting thread), one blue/red/yellow and the other yellow/peach/orange.
Dad had seen this quilt at several stages, so I wanted to include a few surprises. I cut out some small appliques of motifs relevant to Dad's life, our initials (5 'A's), two cats (my parents have 2 cats now, and have had several over the years and two dogs (based ont their dog and mine) and some anchors (Dad was in the Royal Navy for 22 years and is still a member of the RNA/Vets club now). I used bondaweb to attach these to the back of the quilt and then used free motion quilting to go around the shape leaving a subtle motif quilted 'hidden'on the front of the quilt.
Dad was very happy when I gave him the quilt, then a few hours later he phoned me, thrilled, after my mum had discovered the quilting/motifs, he felt that it made it very personal to him. And of course, he had memories of the shirts, who gave them to him, where he brought them, where he wore them etc.
I was a bit worried about the shirts not being 100% cotton, but they are so soft from wear, and, after all, wasn't this how quilts were originally made? Recycling bits of worn out clothes?

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Retro bombshell dress and course finished!

Finished! Not the best photo, granted, nor a stunning setting, but still. Not even intentionally headless, but I balanced the camera on the ironing board and used the timer - glamorous! I'd got my mother to take a quick picture earlier, but she couldn't really see and the shot was a little blurry.

I'm happy with the result, though there are things that I'd like to get better at. The fit could be a bit better, perhaps the top of the bodice and waist a little tighter. But the boning was fun to do and feels very comfortable. I'm already researching patterns to do that again.

The course, created by Gretchen Hirsch for Craftsy. com, was well made and informative. Gretchen was very watchable and made a perfect teacher, full of enthusiasm and able to explain things very clearly. I enjoyed the course, learnt a lot and would definitely recommend it.

Hmm, and summer, where is it and please don't end too soon. There is so much else I want to do before school starts....

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Charlotte's Quilt

Charlotte's Quilt, originally uploaded by soja.

A bit dark, but earlier it was too bright and over exposed, ah well, glad to have pics before I give it away! :-)

A small quilt made for a colleague at the first school I was placed at. We had chatted about quilts as she had said that she was looking for one for her home, so when I knew that she was expecting her first baby just before I was due to leave I knew that I had to make her a quilt!
I kept the quilt simple, I hope that these colours are autumnal (the baby is due in September) and gender neutral.
I used most of a Moda charm pack that I loved, though can't remember the designer/series for the front and some super soft, lovely printed cotton from Ikea for the back. I also added some hand appliqued wobbly circles to the back, just because I can't seem to keep the backs of my quilts simple!

The binding is a really soft gingham cotton bought from a company in Spain. The wadding was bought from Home Town a local quilt shop in Rochester, and is bamboo. It was very soft and easy to work with.
The label was sewn on the machine using free motion quilting and a variegated thread from Cotton Patch. I used bondaweb to stabilise it while sewing. Although this made it really easy (relatively - I struggle sewing letters), I won't do it again as it made the label a little stiff.

The finished size is 86 x 100 cm/ 34 by 39.5 inches.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Muslins for Retro Bombshell Online Sewing Course

So, one quilt has been given, to my dad, I'll get some photos later, the other is in the washing machine now.

Here are the muslins I have made for the online sewing course created by Gretchen Hirsch for When I read the pattern details I was a little surprised that the measurements closest to mine were the size 38, as I thought this would be small. And, um, I was right - the muslin was far too small! (First plain muslin, top left). Sorry for the blurry pictures, I took this in a mirror, perhaps a bit of a dusty mirror, ahem).

I traced out and basted a second muslin in size 40 and think that this is okay? I also added an extra 1.25" to the length of the bodice. There is room for the interlining, lining and boning and I think the cup is quite a good fit? Not sure if the neck line needs to be raised a bit? Will see what my classmates think. :-)