Happy New Year everyone!
I’ve just published a new vlog on my YouTube channel, featuring the Christmas swaps I took part in, presents I made, crafty gifts I received and my in-progress projects.
With 2018 drawing to a close, I wanted to write a round-up of what I’ve been up to in the last year.
I’ve continued volunteering for the Association of Guilds of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers, managing their social media channels and monthly newsletter. It’s an organisation I love being part of, despite personally doing minimal weaving, spinning or dyeing. In the same way that being part of the sewing community introduces me to a wider community of women, being part of the Association allows me to be part of a different community of fascinating, talented women, I otherwise wouldn’t interact with. This year I attended the Association’s biannual National Exhibition for the first time, next year I will be attending the summer school (my first-choice is a week-long course in weaving tweed and tartan), and in 2020 I plan to submit a small (un-juried) piece to the next National Exhibition.
I (jointly) organised the third Sewing Weekender (with Kate & Rachel from The Fold Line), and the fifth SewBrum (with Lauren Guthrie) in 2018. Both events were the biggest yet, and it’s really positive that people continue to want to attend, that this community continues to grow and that it continues to be supportive despite that growth. For the first time ever I even managed to make a new dress to wear to each of the events! I was adamant that I wasn’t going to let being busy stop me from attending other events in the sewing community this year, and I made it along to (and thoroughly enjoyed myself at) Sew Up North, the Sewcialist Soiree, and Birmingham-based meet-ups including Brummie Yarn Social.
I participated in the Refashioners for the second time (the first time was in 2015), and won the runner-up prize for an outfit inspired by Dior’s Bar Suit, which was my most involved sewing project to date. Phil and I visited Paris to get photos based on my inspiration image (we also holidayed in Vietnam, Majorca, Lulworth Cove and Skegness this year). My entry for Tilly & the Button’s Sew a Xmas Sweater Competition was also based on an inspiration image, Vera Ellen’s dress at the end of White Christmas. Back in April, I celebrated Fashion Revolution Week by making a screen-printed tee, which was one of my favourite garments this summer. Finally, in December I participated in two Christmas swaps (Bombazine Mitt Swap & Sewing Secret Santa).
In December 2017 I started using the Cora App to catalogue my fabric and I’ve kept it up all year (with a few gaps where some retrospective cataloguing was required). Cataloguing my fabric inspired me to take part in MakeNine for the first time in 2018, and to finally sew with patterns and fabric I’ve had in mind for ages. I’ve only made a smallish dent in my MakeNine plans so far (simply because I don’t sew as fast as I plan), but the intention to not forget patterns released (and fabric purchased) in previous years remains, and I did sew with my stash of Mahlia Kent remnants, built up over a couple of previous trips to Paris.
I’ve had limited success with my knitting this year (I’ve done less knitting, and the projects I have finished have had fitting issues), but in the last couple of months Christmas has inspired me to pick up my (circular) needles more regularly, and I’ve finished knitted baubles for our Christmas tree, and a scarf for my mom’s Christmas present. I’m hoping to stay inspired and to successfully complete a larger project for myself in the new year.
Without me really noticing it was occurring, I’ve become more confident in my sewing ability in the last year or so. My ability to complete my Refashioners’ project was a sure sign to myself that I’m no longer reliant on instructions, or thrown when something doesn’t immediately work as expected. I’ve become more confident altering garments which I’m not happy with, and this year that included significantly altering a knitted garment for the first time, taking the scissors to my Wharf Street Pullover to remove length from the hem and sleeves.
My blog photography has also improved (credit to Phil for this one), and I took the opportunity this year to get better photos of my Bombshell swimsuit, on a beach as opposed to in my garden. I enjoy celebrating garments which have been successes by re-blogging them, like last year when I took the opportunity to do so for my Victoria Blazer, which is still undoubtedly my most-worn handmade garment.
I kept up my vlog in 2018, including a monthly ‘zine’ which I started in September as a way of sharing sewing and knitting related things which interest me, plus a little on my own creative plans. I’ve also kept up a more regular schedule on my blog recently, and I think the blog and vlog complement each other well, with the blog for finished garment and longer posts (such as this), and the vlog for shorter chit chat and recommendations.
I tend to think that I don’t sew patterns multiple times, but my love for the Sangria, Linden, and Grace patterns continued unabated this year. More unusually, I am sewing a garment for Phil for only the second time ever, making him a coat while I’m off work over Christmas using the Free Sewing Carlton Coat pattern.
I also bought myself a sewing machine for the first time this year (the previous have all been gifts). There’s a story behind the purchase which I’ll save for a second wrap-up post about my personal/work life, as this post is long enough already.
Thank you for reading the blog and Happy Christmas and New Year!
Another week, another Linden!
This Linden features a very simple ‘hack’, and is my entry for the “Stitched with a Twist” Instagram challenge. I’ve been planning to make this Linden since last March when I spotted the sweatshirt below in an email from Uniqlo. I thought it would be easy to recreate using the Linden pattern with the simple addition of some gathering at the neckline (I also fancy recreating the dress on the right with Named’s Inari Dress).
The fabric is from Guthrie & Ghani, and was purchased during their Fifth Birthday Party back in April. I picked an especially drapey knit so that the neckline gathers wouldn’t be too stiff. The fabric feels lovely and has a great sheen to it.
I added 5 inches at the neckline of the pattern front to accommodate the gathering. To more closely imitate the inspiration image, I should have reduced the length at the hem and widened the neckband, but I didn’t think about that until after it was constructed.
We’ve been to a comic con today, and managed to capture some pictures outside, just in time, as it was getting dark. Birmingham was hectic, so I’m now recovering in my pyjamas, with a mulled drink, and a trashy Christmas film on Netflix. I might even get back to bauble knitting shortly for full Christmassy atmosphere.
Autumn is here and with it new Grainline Studio Lindens are entering my wardrobe.
I cut out and prepared (pinned all initial seams) two Linden sweatshirts during evenings this week, and then sewed both sweatshirts today. I managed to sew the first – pictured here – in a couple of hours this morning, meaning that I was able to wear it during a trip into Birmingham city centre this afternoon.
It’s pictured here at Ikon Gallery where we caught the final day of an exhibition of recent work by Polly Apfelbaum. I must admit that half of the incentive for visiting was seeing the exhibition before it closed, and the other half was getting blog photos in such a great space!
The exhibition was very accessible and interactive, with visitors invited to walk over the woven rugs included in the exhibition on the condition you removed your shoes.
This particular Linden is made with fabric purchased as an offcut from Birmingham Rag Market, and was the remaining metre of fabric I had left after making a Freya Dress.
I had a go at making Named’s Talvikki sweater earlier this week, and am not convinced by how it looks on. I’m having a break before returning to try altering it, but it was very satisfying to return to a pattern I know well.
As a reminder (if only for myself), I make the Linden in size 2 in thicker fabrics, but in a size 0 in thinner fabrics – including this one. I also always cut the neckband one size larger, to avoid pulling, and have found it to make all the difference.
My Linden is pictured here paired with a Seamwork Oslo Cardigan which I made for myself in 2014 when it was released with the very first issue of Seamwork. The weather has been very mild here in the UK for the last few weeks, and this kind of casual jacket is currently perfect outerwear. By the time it gets cold I might have all the supplies ready and be prepared to sew coats.
Recently, I got the opportunity to try out Craftine Box a sewing subscription box based in France and now available in the UK, which is released every two months.
I’ve recorded a vlog with an unboxing and some footage of my finished project. I’d also recommend having a look at their Blog if you’d like to see inside some more recent boxes (mine was the February edition). In the time since I received my box, Craftine have begun providing two sewing pattern options inside each box which is a great feature, as it’s twice as likely you’ll be interested in making an included project!
This is a great simple dress pattern, which I’ve now made successfully in woven and knit fabrics. I have another version of the Grace Dress to blog, as I sewed two at once this time. If I make it again I’m going to try the capped sleeve version, for a slightly different silhouette.
I’m in the second week of a new job. I was exhausted every evening of my first week – it was a relatively quiet start but something about being in a new environment is so tiring! I’ve got more energy this week and am using the time saved from my much shorter commute to get more done in the evening, such as blogging and vlogging. In my previous job I never had enough energy after the commute home to sew in the evening, so I’m hoping that will change and I might make progress on some of the sewing projects I’m really excited about very soon. I also have lots of (Christmas) knitting planned!
Despite living in Birmingham for my entire life my new job is the first I have had based in Birmingham City Centre, which, consequently, is also where these photos were taken (in The Custard Factory to be specific)!
Disclaimer: I was provided with a free Craftine Box; all opinions expressed are my own.
Malhia Kent are a French company who produce woven fabrics for fashion houses. They also have a store in Paris (my personal favourite) where you can buy the fabrics as a consumer – and if you stick to the remnant fabrics they work out very reasonably priced (if you’d like to see inside the store, I previously included it in a Paris fabric shopping vlog).
I got carried away in the €1 remnant bin on a couple of previous trips, and decided to make a Karri dress with the remnants on the pattern’s release (back in 2016!). I finally saw that plan through to completion just before spending a weekend in Paris last month, where I was able to photograph the dress outside the Malhia Kent store. I would, inevitably, have come home with more €1 remnants but never managed to pass the shop except when it was closed for lunch / the day.
The bodice of the dress is constructed from 8 different fabric remnants. Understandably, the remnants vary in size, so cutting out was a process of trial and error as I placed the pattern pieces on various remnants and figured out what would fit, and how it would look together. I decided to make the top of the bodice, the sleeves, and the centre back symmetrical, and then use contrasting remnants for the other pattern pieces.
The skirt of the dress is in a black wool fabric purchased in Barry’s Fabrics. I did cut out a skirt in some larger Malhia Kent remnants, but the clash of colours and prints was overwhelming so I sewed that up separately as a skirt. The wool for the skirt has a glittery silver effect running through it and is more pronounced on one side, so I alternated between the two sides of the fabric when cutting out to continue the contrast effect of the bodice.
The fabric for the skirt was a good reminder to treat fabric with appropriate care. Despite it being a wool, I risked throwing it in the washing machine on a low heat, and it shrunk considerably and changed consistency, coming out of the machine much thicker due to felting. The fabric was still usable – just different – but the shrinkage meant that fitting the pattern pieces on my fabric was more effort than it needed to be. On the plus side, the felting that had taken place meant I didn’t need to hem it.
I was planning to work on an outfit to wear to the Sewcialite Soirée (which takes place next weekend), but I’ve been having an exceeding lazy weekend and haven’t even made it as far as my sewing machine. Friday was my last day in my current job (after 5 years) and I had a lovely leaving do on Friday night where I had a few drinks, and subsequently spend Saturday napping and recovering. It’s finally dawned on me this weekend that I won’t see those work friends on a daily/regular basis from now on (boo hoo), but I am looking forward to a new work challenge from tomorrow.
I might see if I can summon up enough energy to do some knitting for the remainder of the evening. Enjoy your Sunday evenings all.