I started reading sewing blogs a good while before I began sewing. My mind was blown by the excellence I saw online. Someone made that jacket? For real?! But I’ll be honest – half the time I had no idea what people were writing about. Thread tracing? Muslins? FBA?s TNTs? What the…?! It can be intimidating.
I’m probably guilty of the same thing myself, assuming readers know what I’m talking about. My blog posts range from chatty and light-hearted to pretty in-depth when I’m getting down and dirty with a specific technique or step. Sometimes I need to shake myself and remember that not all my readers will have a flip what I’m going on about. They might be inspired, though, and want to understand more. It would be wrong of me not to help out.
So, help me help you. Are you choosing your first sewing project this very day? Should my writing work harder to help? Is there something really obvious that I’m missing because I’m too close?
Alternatively, are you an old hand who still remembers the early days? What did you want to know and were too scared to ask?
We’re all in this together, people!
* Full Bust Adjustment. Don’t worry, it took me about 2.5 years of sewing to realise I needed to do this.
* Tried And Tested. This refers to a pattern you keep going back to because it works so well for you.
Hey y’all. That’s how a gal from Derbyshire talks when her limbs are sun-soaked and she can barely get her fingertips to strike keys.
But there is much excitement awaiting my return to London! On 3 and 10 June I’ll be teaching more classes in making the Hollyburn Skirt at The Village Haberdashery, details here. This is the perfect summer skirt. How do I know? Because I’ve made three of them! So far…
If you’re planning a holiday of your own and need a handmade wardrobe, why don’t you visit Annie’s lovely shop in West Hampstead? Join me and others so that you can have fun sewing, learn stuff and listen to me say things like, ‘Embrace the randomness!’
Aw, this blurry photo makes me really happy! It’s me and my ma, knitting side-by-side. I think Mum might be the second personality here at Didyoumakethat Towers. Anyone remember her showing me how to use an overlocker?
And what about when she received her Certificate of Excellence after a course with English Couture?! (True Confessions – I am deeply jealous of this Certificate of Excellence. When oh when, shall it be mine?)
Here’s a tea cosy she made:
Oh, and here’s a whole little montage I did of the two of us together at Christmas:
I feel very lucky to have a mum who taught me at a young age to knit, tapestry, embroider and use a sewing machine. Look where it’s got us! We’re still laughing and comparing pattern notes now.
Did your mum teach you how to make things? Did someone else? Do you think it made a lifetime’s impact on you? (Yes!) More importantly, are you passing those skills down to someone else? Having my god daughter sat on my knee, learning how to knit, has to be up there amongst life’s great memories.
And now I need to interrupt this blog post in order to show my mum a new (to her) way of weaving in yarns. Oh, the warp and weft of learning…
Sidenote: very interesting Guardian article on knitting and yoga here today.
Guys, this knitting pattern is awesome and then some. I love, love, love it. I began frightened. I knitted the first few rows in isolation in my hotel room, scared to have holiday makers jeer at me across the pool. ‘Look at her! She doesn’t know what she’s doing!’ But six rows in, I realised that this pattern is easy peasy lemon squeezy. And, boy, those colours really do pop in the Pop Spots Shawl.
Every time I create one of those rows of spots I want to elbow someone and point at my work. ‘Look what I just did!’ Sadly, my elbow would probably skid across their larded flesh and my knitting and I would dive bomb into the pool. I’m not sure chlorine is good for merino wool.
In other news, you’ll be glad to hear that the Greek authorities ordered all boat owners to re-paint their vessels to match my new sleeveless Mathilde. I expected nothing less.
Of course, the most important part of holiday packing is the knitting. I’m taking materials for Loop’s Pop Shawl. There are 178 beautiful versions of this on Ravelry. I’m assured this is an easy make and I certainly hope so. This will be my sunlounger make, when I want a break from reading trashy novels.
Have you had experience making this shawl? Any tips?
Is it possible to adapt the Mathilde blouse to a sleeveless tank top? Answer? Yes! I spent this weekend doing just that.
The key to adapting this blouse is to really pare things back. I left out the facings, ignored the back button opening, shaved more of a curve into the front and back neckline and trimmed a bit off the blouse’s length. I also discovered that I really needed to add some waist shaping. If you want to wear the Mathilde as a loose tank top, you will need waist shaping. I only realised after sewing together the main pieces, but it was easy enough to adjust with some chalk and a French curve.
The facings and sleeves were all replaced with some beautiful binding tape I took home from one of our legendary sewing swaps. I procured this, I believe, at the Birmingham meet up. Isn’t it gorgeous?
If I had a Top Tip for sewing swaps it would be this: resist the allure of metres and metres of crazy print fabric. Keep your eyes peeled for the discreet little bits and pieces that your sewing friends quietly slip onto the table. The unusual binding tape, the rarely seen accessory, the vintage knitting pattern. You’ll be so grateful for them when they turn out to be your salvation in times of inspiration.
Adapting the Mathilde blouse began as an experiment with some cheap red cotton sateen bought in Goldhawk Road. The emphasis was definitely on ‘experiment’ and I fully anticipated a learning curve that ended up in the bin. I think it says a lot about this blouse that my wild interpretation is a wearable item and summer fail safe. Perfect to wear with a pair of shorts or a summer skirt. A Sorbetto/Mathilde mash up, if you will.
I’m only sorry I’m not modelling this top for you. That’s because I should be packing right now. Yes, the sleeveless Mathilde was a final, last-minute, panic make prior to my holiday. Because, after three years of sewing I woke up this morning and thought: I don’t have a thing to wear!
Make of that what you will.
Yes, this silk thread is just as beautiful and shimmering as it looks. It’s also a dream to work with when hand basting because it’s so slippery, making it really easy to remove.
But the company who produced it don’t make it any more.
There’s an interesting insight into Belding Corticelli and the thread here. I first used this thread when studying with Sunny Gal Studios and I’ve recently been reintroduced to it via my Susan Khalje Couture Dress course. I decided I just had to have some of my own Corticelli silk thread.
Even though this thread is no longer manufactured, you can still get hold of it. My impression is that if you live in the States, this can be picked up for a dime at any garage sale. (Though my impression of America is that ANYTHING can be picked up for a dime at a garage sale. Wrong or right?)
Not so here in the UK. But fear ye not, readers! I tracked down some thread.
First off, a quick Ebay UK search turned up several options. But they were all being shipped from the States at fairly hefty prices and I didn’t need 20-odd spools of questionable quality thread. Just a couple of spools of excellent quality thread.
So, I turned to Etsy and found Fahrenheit Vintage. This vendor has lots and lots of really lovely silk thread. Don’t click on the link unless you want to part with some money! But I really recommend that you part with some money. Not only is this thread useful, it’s a piece of history and an object of beauty. William Morris would approve:
Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.
This thread is both.
Meet Poppy – Ella’s cousin! (Aka my sister’s puppy.) Don’t tell Ella, but I think Poppy pips her to the cuteness post. She has the giant-est of giant ears and the most inquisitive little face.
I always swore blind I’d never play dress up with Ella. Then we saw these kerchiefs on a stall, and… What can I tell ya? I could have whipped one up myself in five minutes, but spontaneous purchasing took over. They’re from Edywn UK. (I also bought a bag. Correction, my mum bought it for me. When do you get too old for your mum to treat you, or does it just go on for ever?)
We had a great May Day Bank Holiday at the local park! There was a dog show and dog agility, free for anyone to enter. So we did.
There was Maypole Dancing, with some adults in frankly questionable costumes.
There was apple and pear cider, a coconut stand, Lucky Dip… I expected milkmaids to wander past at any point. Then we encountered a group of teenage Walthamstonians talking in street talk, innit. ‘Gang life!’ Mum whispered gleefully to me. ‘Gang life in the East End!’ Um, yeah. Or maybe a bunch of lads showing off to each other.
And now I’m too tired to sew! What have you been up to?