Monday, 11 January 2016

Recent Projects and 2016 Aims.

It's probably too late to say happy new year now I suppose....but rest assured I do wish you all a happy 2016. 
I new that the start of the year would be slim on sewing time (given our impending move) so I took full advantage of my two weeks off at Christmas and sewed up a storm.

The satisfaction of neatly pilling up clothes you've made.
In two weeks I managed to squeeze in 3 Esme tops & a pair of Owyn Shorts (from Lotta Jansdotter's new book Lotta Jansdotter Everyday Style), 1 Tunic #4 (from Yuko Takada's She Wears The Pants), 2 Roberts Collection Dungaree Dresses ( Marilla Walkers newest pattern) and another Factory Girl Dress (a brilliant pattern from the always brilliant Merchant & Mills)
That's a lot of sewing to run through precisely soo I'll just run you through a few bits.

This was my second Factory Girl Dress, I made it up in a soft grey needlecord fabric. It's a perfect winter dress and a very welcome addition to my wardrobe.

I'd been sitting on this Quenby Prints fabric for a while (waiting to find the perfect project) when I saw the Esme top pattern I new the time had come to take the plunge and use it up. I made a couple of wearable muslins first because I had a hunch I'd have some fitting issues, and I was right. The size I measured up to was a touch to tight on the shoulders, so I scaled up and made the large size (even though I was a little mortified to be making a large...considering I'm a size 10 generally). The large size fits perfectly and I'm sooo pleased with the finished product! (On a side note, I had no fitting issues with the Owyn shorts that I made from the same book, so I think it's just my 'strong as an ox' shoulders)

Sooo, there's a little glimpse into the recent makes. 
I did a brutal wardrobe clear out last week (in a vain attempt to get ready for the move) I donated so much stuff to charity which is brilliant because now I can see the wood for the trees with regards to what I could do with adding/making in 2016. It seems to me that there's a lack of simple, un-fussy summer dresses in there, so it would be swell if I could sew up a few of those once things have settled down (any pattern suggestions??). I also want to try and be smarter with what fabric I choose and make sure I'm going for fabrics which I really love rather than getting excited and jumping in head first.
Right then...I'm sure you can all sleep easy now that you know what I've been doing with my spare time!
Until next time.

Friday, 16 October 2015

The Roberts Collection.

Stop the press guys.

Marilla Walkers newest pattern collection has arrived and it is possibly the most perfect thing in the world. (Disclaimer: this may be a slight exaggeration on my part...but not much of one...the patterns really are that good.)

For years I've been longing for a pair of long legged dungarees but I never really had the budget to buy a pair for myself (and until 6 months ago I wasn't really clued up on making clothes.)
Well, imagine my delight when Marilla launched her newest pattern collection The Roberts Collection. Consisting of FIVE different patterns for FIVE items of clothing (a jumpsuit, the dungarees, two dungaree dresses and a top) for the princely some of £8.50. It's such good value for money.

apologies for the bind weed...good gardeners we most definitely are not.
As soon as the launch date arrived (I'd pretty much been crossing the dates off on my calendar) I downloaded the pattern, pre-washed my fabric and got down to the business of making me a pair of dungarees.
The poppers/press studs were worth the hassle I had attaching them.
I used an almost black, medium weight denim that has a little bit of stretch (brought from the necessary evil that is Fabric Land...Cheltenham residents will understand my mixed feelings on this place)
Those skinny back straps...I love them.
Seeing as this was my first ever sewing pattern PDF download I was a little worried I'd bodge up the printing and sticking together, but that all went smoothly (and there's the option to print just the dungaree and jump suit pattern pieces if you don't fancy sticking 72 pieces of paper together.)

Did I mention it has pockets? I lined mine in some mustard yellow stripey cotton I picked up at Walthamstow Market.
The instructions were really easy to follow, the only stumbling blocks I had came when I got to the button band but that was my own fault for cutting it wrong; I also struggled with the press studs but again, that was my own fault.

The pattern is designed for the legs to have turn ups which is perfect, seeing as every pair of trousers I own has been turned up.
I can be a little obsessive when I'm working on a project i'm excited about so I sewed this up in about 5 hours (spread over two days).
The five minutes that I took them off to take this photo is the longest they've been off of me...meaning I took this photo in my pants...I'm not ashamed to say so.
The finished product is wonderful. I'm conscious of sounding like a crazy fan girl BUT this pattern really is that good. I started out sewing my own clothes (around 6 months ago now) because I had a TOAST taste but a bread crumb budget, and for me, this pattern looks like its straight out of their catalogue.

I couldn't be happier with the possibilities this pattern brings 
to my wardrobe. 
 So...yeah...go buy the pattern.

N.B. I'm hoping the enthusiasm in this post goes a small way to disguising the fact that its been ages since I posted?

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Looking Past The Pictures.

I can't wait to tell you all about a fun little project me and Vix have got planned!

Since stepping out on this making my own clothes journey there's been one obstacle that I've had to try really hard to over come. "What is it Bex??" I hear you cry. Well, my friends, I'll tell you. The one thing that I've found the hardest to get my head around is the terrible photos that pattern designers put on the front. 

Now, I don't mean to slate modern pattern makers, I know for a fact that a HUGE amount of work goes into getting a pattern ready to go...BUT...does every picture on the front have to be a cringe worthy & poorly styled?? Take a look at the front of this Simplicity pattern (I managed to look past the picture on the front and was able to see how I could make the trousers to fit into my style). 

It's not good is it? I consider myself no fashionista but what's going on with the half tucked in stripey top? and the weird 'hot dog style' (a phrase coined by my good pal Annah from Girl&Bird) strip down the legs? and the flesh colored stiletto shoes? 

I probably shouldn't complain really, there are some really really brilliant pattern makers who are knocking the ball out the park in the style stakes (100 Acts Of Sewing, Tilly and The Buttons, Merchant & Mills and Liesel & Co to name a few). It's a good exercise for my imagination anyway. Which brings me onto the exciting project me and Vix are beginning.

A while back Vix stumbled across a big box of clothes making magazines from the 80's, the ones with all the pattern pieces and instructions.  After showing me her wonderful bounty we decided it would be a perfect opportunity to re-visit the 80's patterns and bring them up to date. The set we're using is called Make It Easy, there are some real corkers in there! With a bit of imagination and the right fabric I'm certain that you wouldn't be able to tell their original origins. We're going to blog all about our adventures in 80's dressmaking, the highs, the lows, and everything else in between. 
So without further ado, I present a small selection of some of the 'incredible' patterns we're going to re-make:

And, if all else fails at least me and Vix will be able to pretend we're in The Baby Sitters Club.
Watch this space for me trips to the 80's wardrobe.

Monday, 4 May 2015

Me Made May

So...if you walk in similar circles to me then you probably all ready know about Me Made May. It was set up by So Zo What Do You Know 
The idea is that throughout the month of May you try your best to wear clothing and accessories made by you. It can be a handmade necklace through to a pair of hand knit socks. Some people are proper bastions of the handmade wardrobe community and are clever enough to wear a handmade garment every day like the super talented and inspiring Sew DIY
Now I'm pretty new to this seamstress business but I've decided to give it a go, I'm not going to be crazy strict on myself, I know there will be days when I wont be able to manage (but I like to think that on those days I'll at least have one of my necklaces on)
The last few months I've really stepped up the clothe sewing game, and slowly but surely I'm beginning to decipher the confusing world of dress making.
I couldn't have started getting into at a better time, my good pal (and sewing partner in crime) Vicki from Vicki Brown Designs  is also picking up the pace on the garment making front. It means our runs (yes...that's right we run...) are now full of chats about patterns we want to sew and fabric we want to buy. We've got a brilliant series of blog posts lined up for you...more on that to come soon (although there's a sneaky peak below in the picture of the top with blue sleeves)
So without further ado here's some of my most recent makes:

Yellow Top: View B from Simplicity 1364, made in an acid yellow cotton blend.
Top Right: Boxy Tee from The Purl Bee, made in a coral and aqua cotton blend
Middle: A Boat Necked Top (Long Sleeve Version) from Make It Easy, made in a jersey blend.
Bottom: View A from Simplicity 1364, made in a cotton fish scale/scallop print.

Until next time!

Thursday, 30 April 2015

On Our Plates.

I always find it interesting to see what people have been cooking up.
It's kind of weird I know, but I'm interested in (and love making) good food...I guess I kind of live voyeuristically through other peoples delicious plate fulls.
I've been cooking up some rather tasty meals this week (even if I do say so myself) and I somehow managed to remember to take some pictures of said tasty meals before eating them all up.

My lunch of choice this week has been radishes on toast. Super simple and super frugal ( I love mine thinly sliced on buttered toast with lots of salt and pepper.)

I'm rather proud of myself for this one: A Beetroot and Caramelised Onion Tart. I was super pleased with the pastry, just a basic shortcrust pastry recipe but with some rolled oats and grated carrot in it. I'm not going to lie, after eating it I felt wholsomely smug.

Cauliflower features regularly in our midweek supper's normally in the form of Cauliflower Cheese (I don't mean to blow my own Cauliflower Cheese is a thing of makes me feel like a grown up every time I make it because I don't need a recipe to make the cheese sauce.)

We've generally got a cake on the go in this house. It saves us money because we don't run out to the shop for a bar of chocolate or a sweet treat in the evening. This weeks bake was a Chocolate & Vanilla Marble Cake...delicious (despite our 'hotter than the sun' ovens attempts at sabotage)

Whats you're favorite recipe to cook? 
Well...I reckon that's about me done. Hope you found it at least marginally interesting.
Until next time!

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

It Goes A Little Something Like This....

I'm not sure how this will pan out.
I mean to try and post here regularly, show you all what I'm working on, tell you a bit about me, it might end up being interesting or it might not...anything could happen.

So....lets have a go then (in my head i can hear a boxing referee ringing the bell 'DING! DING! Round Two...or three...or four...the lady in the right corner with the short hair as tried and failed so many times at this blogging business I've lost count of how many times I've rung this stupid bell')

My name is Bex, Im 29 in 34 days.
I live in Cheltenham with my fella (he's called Arthur and he has a beard) and our cat (she's called Lola and she doesn't have a beard....but she has got whiskers).
I work in Cheltenhams best independent cafe, It's called Cafe Moochoo (the cakes are truly delicious there)
Knowing how to make things is really important to me, from knowing how to make an omelette through to knowing how to knit socks. 
I'm constantly fascinated by traditional techniques and where possible I try to make things using them. I sell the things I make with these age old techniques under the moniker Ampersand Commodities.
I use Instagram a lot...some would say too much. 
I also pin about on pinterest quite a bit.

I'm hoping to bodge together some sort of timetable/ routine to this blogging adventure...In the mean time here's some pictures of my work.