Friday, 15 June 2018

Should I Coco?

I debated with myself for a long time about whether or not I should splurge money on the Tilly and the Buttons Coco pattern (£12.50 + £1 postage). 

Searching on the internet for justification and examples of  other people's makes I found an amazing number of blog reports and youtube mentions.

The majority like the pattern they say:
  • the design is retro 60's style but on trend now
  • the pattern is adaptable - i.e. tunic/dress; boat neck/funnel neck; three sleeve lengths; colour blocking possibilities; pocket options
  • the instructions are clear for beginners who have not sewn stretch fabric before
  • it is very quick to make
  • the instructions are in booklet form
  • illustrations are in colour
  • the printed pattern is on sturdy paper rather than tissue
  • the pattern pocket has a gusset therefore it is easier to pack the pattern neatly away.
Some say:
  • the pattern is overpriced for such a simple design
  • the arm cycle is misshaped/too small 
  • the sleeves are too wide
  • the pattern would be improved by the addition of darts in the back piece
  • Tilly's designs are suitable only for Tilly's height and figure type 
  • The popularity of the pattern is due to clever marketing - making use of :

*social media and "the blog parade" 
*the wish not to be seen as critical of anything that is currently on-trend - i.e. the use of Indie patterns versus the once "big 4".
*fear of being critical at all in case there is a backlash of replies

As many people are enthusiastic I have bought the pattern. Yes I may have fallen for the marketing especially as I have not got Tilly's figure! 

Now the decisions regarding fabric..........

Monday, 28 May 2018

May Makes

Another Stella Hoodie (Tilly and the Buttons pattern) I added three inches to the length.

Sunhats using the pattern from Oliver and Schwinn . The first one - quack quack- was a breeze to make. The second - hearts - was a nightmare yet the materials were the same quality and the pattern was cut to the same size. Everything went wrong so I  finished it with extra tucks in the sewing and three broken needles in the bin!

A quilted pocket for my mobile phone. I hardly ever use the phone but I love the pattern on this fabric. It was a fat quarter in a pack I was given. I'd like to find more.

Another zipped purse. I ordered Heat and Bond fleece interfacing from the USA via Amazon. It comes in small packs. 

Easy to use but expensive when considering I was only using it in order to use up scraps and there is a limit to how many zipped pouches anyone needs. 

I ordered a multi pack of zips from China via Amazon. I'm pleased with my pack of 50 which has ten different colours of nine inch invisible zips. Amazing bargain at  £2. 23.  I wasn't expecting  invisible zips so I bought a normal  zip for the pouch I was making. It sets my next task though - learning to insert invisible zips. It seems I was lucky as some of the reviews about the packs report that they received 50  zips all in the same colour - yellow.

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Zipped Bag

This bag was created following most of the instructions by Jenny Doan (Missouri Star Quilt Co) on You Tube. I didn't top stitch the zip as she advised and then I regretted it as the seam looked quite ugly when I opened the zipper. Lesson learned. (Edit: I have hand sewn inside to neaten the zipper area now -  it is now much better than in the pic)

My Janome 8050XL does not cope well with very thick material or sewing over several layers of thin material.  It judders to a halt.More power needed! I tried a denim needle and I lengthened the stitch but to no avail. I then ironed the prospective seam lines flat and had some success.

First zipper bag. Time to have another try.

Monday, 30 April 2018

Just Out of Interest

I have just learned from a a post on Pinterest that I have been wasting time trying to find the end of the thread on a new Gutermann purchase. The bottom of the reel pulls out to release the thread. A bonus, say some, is that the inner can be used to store needles but mine is hollow so needles would surely fall out?

Inner - its hollow can be used to store needles.

Thursday, 5 April 2018

Hoodie Reports

I had not kept the receipt for the Regatta hoodie that pilled so much within a couple of wears that I did not feel comfortable in it outside the house. An email following my report on the hoodie confirmed that I could not return it. 

"I am sorry to see how the fabric on your Regatta Kizmit II Fleece has started to pill. We do aim to make reliable products of a high quality so it is disappointing to see how yours has become defective in this way.

Unfortunately, as you alluded to in your email, we would require some form of proof of purchase to be able to assist you further in providing a replacement. I do apologise for any disappointment that this may cause. I would like to thank you for sending this image in to us however, and I will pass it on to the design team for their consideration. We do appreciate feedback of all kinds as it allows us to perfect and refine our products for the future." 

I was going to cut up the Regatta hoodie so that at the least I had a pattern. This proved unsuccessful - lots of tatty pieces.  Binned!

The only retrievable item was the lace that had gone around the hood. Whoop!

The publication of the Stella Hoodie pattern by Tilly and the Buttons coincided with the demise of the Regatta nasty. I decided to make a hoodie and I learned a lot. 

  • Choose the main fabric wisely. I purchased mine online in a  "sale" from Minerva. Although it had good reviews from earlier customers - some described it as luxury - it was not suitable for leisure wear. Stretch cord - but quite stiff. A reason it was in the sale might also have been the colour and pattern as you will see later.
  • Choose a hood lining that has a colour match in it. I chose from my stash in dim light and asked someone's opinion who was keen to watch sport on tv  rather than look at fabrics. That's my excuses but really I knew I was "making do".
  • Practise more with the overlocker ...

Oh dear! Now to try again......


Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Another Purse For Hair Accessories

I increased the fold over flap length by 3 cm. I prefer it.

Hair Clips Purse

When our young relatives have been to stay we find hair clips and elastics everywhere. I decided to make a purse for the children to store their hair accessories in.

Measurements for such an item are down to individual taste and the number of items  to be stored. This was my first attempt. It is awaiting approval and suggestions from prospective owners for improvement - only they know how big and varied their hair accessory collections really are .


Outer :  width -16 cm, length 34 cm cotton or polyester

Inner:  width 16 cm, length 34 cm cotton or polyester

Lining -  width 15 cm,  length 33 cm lightweight batting or fleece

Pocket for elastics - width 16 cm, length 26cm

Ribbon holders for clips: three pieces each 16 cm long
A button - preferably one with a shank at the back to lift it.
Make your pattern: 

Fold your paper lengthways. Mark the top centre. Measure 4 cm down each side and put a small mark. Draw a dot 1 cm each side of your top centre mark  Draw a line from the top right mark centre to the mark on the right. Cut along the line. Repeat for the left side.
Measure 6 cm down from the top point and draw a line across. 
Measure 20 cm from top point. Draw a line across.
Your remaining section should measure 16 cm by 14 cm.

Cut out your pieces of fabric and lining.  I used fleece  for the lining 
and I trimmed the fleece slightly all the way around so that the edges/corners  would not be too thick when I attached the upper fabric later.

Tack the lining to the back of the inner fabric.  About a third of the way down baste the short edges of each of the three long ribbons  to the inner fabric edges. Secure the centre of each of the ribbons by either machine stitching or handstitching.
Inner Pocket: Fold the pocket piece in half so that it measures 16 cm by 13 cm. Top stitch along long folded edge. Sew three sides close to the three edges of the bottom of the inner fabric to form a pocket. Sew down the middle of the pocket so that you have two pockets.

Place the outer fabric piece on top of your inner fabric so that the pocket and bands to hold clips are on the inside. (The right side of your upper fabric should face the ribbons and the fleece will be the bottom layer) 
Sew all around the edges except for about  7cm.  Trim any points. Turn out to the right side through 7 cm gap.  Slip stitch the gap to close it. Top stitch all the way around.
Make a button hole in the bottom centre of the top of your creation. (Some may prefer to use snap fasteners or ribbon ties.)
Fold your  holder and line up a place to sew your button. 
Sew on the button carefully trying to sew only through the top fabric and lining so that your working will not show on the inside.

Update: Both this and a holder with a larger flap have been approved of and claimed now. Yay!

Sunday, 1 April 2018

Using Up Scraps - an Easter Bonnet

I cut shapes - flowers, Easter eggs,  hearts leaves and grass from fabric scraps. My three year old granddaughter decorated a hat for Easter. Quick, easy and fun using sticky tabs on a hat base from Hobbycraft. Hopefully we may have opportunities to feel and discuss the colours and textures of fabrics in a similar manner in years to come with similar activities.

Saturday, 17 March 2018

Making a Bag Sewing Diary

Session 1: For a long time  I have admired the photos of the Vintage Flower Bag on the kits and patterns displayed in craft shops. On Thursday I bought the kit that included the fabric for £24.95 at a craft show at the NEC. .

Session 2: I decided to use the pattern to make a practice bag before I cut into the material in the kit. Well I've had fun finding materials and scraps from my stash . It took some time but I have realised that I definitely buy an excess of blue.

The fun ended when I tried to make sense of the pattern. The instructions are not clear and there are not enough pictures/diagrams. There seems to be some instructions missing, for instance  regarding the side pockets.

I turned to a sewing group on Facebook for advice. Someone kindly answered and agreed that the instructions are poor but she has managed to create a semblance of the bag. She says if she makes it again she will make the strap longer and she will create a way of fastening the top so that her belongings do not fall out.

Session 3: I have sewed all day but I walked away when I was tempted to act upon my correspondent's last piece of advice - "If all else fails, stamp on it!"

Session 4  I have abandoned the instructions and I'm making it up as I go along. I now have these pieces :

1. Front top attached to bottom lining.

2. Side pockets attached to side pieces.

3. Lined front pockets attached to base  (back view)

4. Front pockets attached to base (front view)

I haven't really got a clue what I'm doing! I have promised myself that I will watch lots of You Tube videos  - for instance those by Debbie Shore like this!  Why didn't I watch these before? Another lesson learned!

Session 5: Completed but not what I started out to do. I now have a container for either my sewing accessories or a bedside tidy to hold books, notebooks, kindle....
It is fully lined and it has pockets on all sides.

Sunday, 11 March 2018

Tracing Patterns

The Facebook group "Sewing in the UK" is one of several groups used by people who love sewing to share their ideas, advice and sewing experiences. It is a great example of the positive use of social media.

In a recent thread several people shared what they use to trace patterns so that the originals can be kept safe.

I use baking paper. Do you trace your patterns?