Monday, 31 October 2016

A productive week and a visit to South Shields market for fabric

I've been surprisingly productive this week.

I've read a couple of blog posts about wasting what you have,  not wearing or using clothes you have made for yourself because perhaps of minor faults which mean you can't bear to wear it. I recognised that description.

We've been sorting out some things (in the course of which I've been gathering together my stash fabric which had been in different places - I couldn't believe I had so much!).  David brought me a large blue IKEA bag of what he thought was fabric for me to sort through. In fact, it turned out to be Joanne's stuff, which I assume she had left behind by mistake during one of her moves. There were some garments clearly hers including unworn items, still with labels plus sheets, duvet covers and a jacket. Also in there were some items I had made. As this has been in the garage, I did a lot of washing.

Simplicity 1542 for Joanne

There were two skirts I had made for Joanne. These were made before I had a blog, (January 2014) so no blog post. The photo here is not of the skirt I found - I had made 3 skirts in all. One was perfectly okay - a cotton skirt in a maroon patterned cotton with a waistband. 
It was too late to take a photo of the skirt. This is the fabric
I made the other quickly and did a simple casing with elastic as a waistband but I found that the elastic had twisted. I stretched the elastic to the length of the casing and stitched through the fabric and elastic in two rows. The elastic should be secure now.  That didn't take long. I think the skirt is much more functional now.

I really lie the jacket - but this project was skirt only

This is similar to the maroon skirt I found

You can just see the black elasticated waist skirt in the background, before my quick alteration

Pyjama Jacket using McCall's 4979

Also in there was a pyjama jacket that I made for myself originally (also January 2014) using this pattern and a yellow brushed cotton to tome in with the spotted yellow lightweight cotton I used for the trousers and top. I didn't review the jacket on PR so I don't have a photo from then. I did review the pyjamas, with me wearing them, but that's not for today! (If you really want to see me wearing them, you'll have to look for yourself on my PR projects!!) Here are the pyjamas:

I can't remember if I gave the jacket to Joanne after she borrowed it. The facing was not attached to the jacket and seemed determined to turn exposing the interfacing side.
Even after I washed and ironed these, the facing wanted to turn
In addition, this was one of my early makes and the shoulder and armhole seams were unfinished and fraying somewhat.
Shoulder/armhole seam - fraying fabric

The side seams were overlocked. I don't think I had a working overlocker at the time so assume I did this in the once monthly sewing class that I attended at the time, before I found my current more local classes. That was certainly where I made the pyjamas - trousers and bias top with shoe string straps and toning jacket. Everyone made the same pyjamas as a class project. I remember being scared of the overlocker but we were all ‘forced’ to use it.  I got over my fear but at the time I still had no idea how to determine seam width on an overlocker.

I decided to unpick the top of the armhole at the shoulder seam. This allowed me to get into and overlock the edges of the shoulder seams, changing to a set of threads a close as possible to the fabric shade.  I also overlock finished the armholes as much as possible - I didn't deconstruct enough to do this 100%. I then resewed the shoulder/armhole seam.  

Shoulder seams and armhole seam now overlocked. Much tidier.
Rough edging at neckline seam hidden by facing (top of photo)
The facing had been understitched etc so I certainly didn't plan to unpick that to get every last part of shoulder seam edge overlocked. No matter, this would be covered by the facing. I decided to top stitch the facing to hold it down. The thread I used is not the same thread as I used previously but it's fine for this project. The two top stitching rows certainly don't match. Nevertheless, I think it does look better, but more importantly I think this has improved both the function and the longevity of the pyjama jacket. Less ironing required too. Do the young iron?

The original row of topstitching at edge of jacket and new row at side of buttons, holding facing down. This follows edge all the way around at an even distance

Joanne is welcome to the jacket but if she doesn't want it, then I'll reclaim it as lounge wear. 

M&S Top alteration

Not a great photo but the best I could do tonight
Next was a sweatshirt top I bought quite cheaply. The sizing was rather strange which is why I think it was so markedly reduced (M&S). I bought a top 2 sizes bigger than my usual size in M&S but this just fitted me in the arms and at the bottom hip band. However, it was huge at the side seams. I pinned out the excess fabric, though not as much as I would have liked as I was constrained by not wanting to alter the armhole. So zero at the top of the side seam, quickly changing to a 1" plus reduction, staying at that for a while and then tapering out to zero again for the hip band which I didn't want to unpick. I first basted to try it out and asked David to check. He pinned it tighter but the sides were uneven so I stayed looser rather than tighter to match them up. I then sewed the new seam on the sewing machine and finished off by overlocking in white thread, cutting off the excess fabric. Result is not perfect but perfectly satisfactory and a top I will have no hesitation in wearing.
The removed part, against a scale.

Concord Tee toile and AGM preparation

This is a dress made with the fabric I used as my latest toile for the Concord tee. 
I've just tonight discovered that this is a Pont de Roma fabric

I made a new Concord tee toile with some of the fabric I found, leftover from a previous make, using the bigger bust size pattern. I'm still not happy with the fit, so I'm not finishing it completely and will ask for advice about it next week. It's not yet photographed as I want to alter further first.

Edited to add -  I took to class tonight and I got advice to alter the sleeve and to take in part of the fullness across the back - that is, more fullness. I've more to say on this but I'll wait until I post a specific post.

Unfortunately, I'll miss my Thursday sewing bee because of our Vets’ AGM; I'm secretary so I've got to be there! I've got 95% of what I need ready for that. It's taken quite a while so I'm glad to get the back of that broken. That's something else I've been very productive doing this week.

Preparing to make a Morris Blazer

I chose some stash fabric to make a Morris blazer, found a source for stretch lining and printed out and taped the PDF pattern, read some helpful reviews on PR and watched the sew along tutorial. I will have to make some changes for fit but it seems a fairly straightforward make. Not all the reviews are positive, in fact some far from it. I'm not sure when I'll start that. It's probably the wrong season now. I've wanted a casual stretch fabric blazer for a while. The fabric I've chosen is striped - is that too difficult to use, do you think?

Edited to add - I also took this to class tonight, as I needed to do a full bust adjustment. There are no darts on this blazer. Dan gave me some advice. Advice on the site ends up adding a side bust dart, so I'm not so sure that a stripe will be ideal. Rotating the dart just didn't work.

Some new fabrics and cataloguing the old

I carried on washing fabric. Stash and new. I had a delivery of fabric for specific purposes but I've only so far washed one, a bright yellow cotton twill intended as cargo pants for one sil. 
This doesn't begin to show the colour, I'm afraid

Another, not yet washed,  is a quilted self patterned fairly heavy jersey. I originally had this in mind for a kimono for Joanne's Christmas if I can't find a more exciting and suitable fabric, but I'm not sure this will work - it's too heavy and spongy, but I really like it. It's black, so not really my colour (though I think it would make a nice Morris blazer!)

I really like this. It's a black rather than the dark grey showing here
I didn't do much proper tidying of my sewing cave this week so that's still to do - I certainly can't leave it much longer! I've decided that I can't face cataloguing each piece of fabric but I've divided into boxes by type (wool;  stretch; woven;  linings and interfacing;  crafts) and hope a simple title will suffice for the present.

South Shields - market and library

For over 20 years, I worked in South Shields but never visited the market.  I didn't sew in those days, of course, as I didn't take up dressmaking until after I retired . I was aware that there was fabric at the market on a Saturday but even after taking up sewing I didn't visit as I played golf on a Saturday. So one of the unexpected side effects of not playing golf at the moment was that I could visit the market. I knew that I had already bought from one set of fabric vendors as they attend the Chester le Street market,  which I had visited. I heard that one of the regulars in Shields was giving up so I realised I had to visit sooner rather than later.

The lady, who is running down and buying less but not giving up just yet, has been there for 30 years and previously had a brick and mortar store. I had heard she had some ethnic fabrics and hoped to pick up some fabric suitable for making Joanne a kimono for Christmas. I didn't find what I expected, some African wax prints,  but I did pick up some fabric (I'm afraid! Or am I?).  For Joanne I found a black based floral-patterned Chinese silk. 
This is a Chinese silk (not pure silk)

I also bought turquoise dragonfly Chinese silk, for Alison - she loves dragonflies and her favourite colour is turquoise, so I couldn't resist it. She doesn't like kimonos so to be honest I'm not sure what I'm going to make with it! Probably a dress. I asked her what she might like and she surprisingly responded a long open cardigan,  so not unlike a kimono really. 

Turquoise. Dragonflies. Dan suggested a chinese top - don't know how to spell it. Q'pai?

I did buy a couple of other little bits but I'll talk about them another time. There's only so much I can admit to you at any one time! David approved the purchases so that's okay. No secrets from him!

A mounted lace

A fairly thick rather stable knit with lace added

A pleather (?)

Earlier in the week, I got a delivery of fabric, including some brushed cotton for making a shirt for David. Not surprisingly, it's a green-based plaid, which David chose himself. I'm hoping I have a suitable shirt pattern.  

Again, the colour is not right despite waiting until daylight to take photo.It's a lovely fabric.
I had originally thought I'd make a shacket but we've now decided on a shirt after all.  One of the other stalls in the Shields market consists of a small square of tables where the vendors stand apparently trapped in the middle. They sell interfacing, trimmings, thread, zips and buttons galore, with no room to move. I bought some buttons for David's shirt. I think the buttons look good with the fabric. I hadn't taken the fabric so wasn't able to buy thread but have some that is excellent for the buttons, though I think I need a darker shade for all the topstitching.

Last week, The Word, South Shields’ new library and The National Centre for the Written Word, opened and so we went in for a coffee, overlooking the Tyne. We also went up to the viewing area for a better view.  They have an exhibition area - a Ridley Scott exhibition is on at present, until May, I believe. In two weeks time they have a Gothic for Girls event with fashion and story so I may visit that. It's a great building. It has some fabulous areas inside.

Fabric and Haberdashery in Blaydon

We have had a broken shade on a triple pendant light fitting for some considerable time which we have been unable to replace, either just the shade or all 3 shades. We have looked all over and searched on the internet to no avail. It's one of a pair, one upstairs and one downstairs. We finally decided we'd need to replace the whole fitting. Last week we noticed a new lighting store so decided to visit on the way home today. This is in a store called the Curtain Store in Blaydon. I used to shop there when it was an old dingy warehouse used as a remnant warehouse by its sister store around the corner. As well as home ware and curtain fabric, I bought some cheap fabrics I used for  dressmaking toiles. That closed for refitting and is now a lovely store with cafe and toilets etc. We didn't buy lights - but they do now have a whole dressmaking and haberdashery section! I didn't buy anything but I know where it is!  They did have some fabric I liked but I had already bought enough.  I can show some control!

Domestic DIY - fridge problem

We were on our way to Maplin. Our tall larder fridge appeared to die - it was flashing and giving audible warnings and not keeping temperature. David searched online and came up with our problem as a common issue.  The replacement circuit board is £189 (ex labour) but the likely culprit capacitors are much cheaper and David is very handy. We got the capacitors from Maplin but then when he dismantled the fridge to replace them, found that our board is somewhat different from the ones described in the tutorials (for want of a better word) David found. We've ordered a likely replacement. In the meantime, the fridge is working again - apparently these capacitors are 'self-healing' so we've possibly bought a respite. If /When the fridge plays up again and the new capacitor ext doesn't work, we may consider a new fridge to get the guarantee. We can buy a fridge for not much more than the cost of the circuit board, but a replacement fridge of the same type is over £600. Is it worth getting the circuit board replaced when necessary? Mmm.

Tailoring Class and McCall's jacket tissue fitting

I've mentioned my tailoring class in passing, really. This coming week I think we're starting to work on our personal blocks. I decided to cut out and tissue fit a Palmer Pletsch jacket McCall's 6172. I used the high bust measurement to choose my size, as advised, despite my HB-FB difference being just 2", as I always need an FBA. I don't need a narrow back or broad back adjustment, I don't think, anyway - David was helping me with the fitting. I do need a 2.25" FBA and I'm in the process of doing that and then will enlarge arm by 1.5". Then I need to check to see what's that's done to hip room and bust position. They may need altered. They do on the tissue at the moment but I think I need to wait see. I do plan a toile. I know that PP feel that you can go straight from tissue fitting to adjusting on your fashion fabric, but I'm not happy with that concept.

Edited to add - Rory had a look at the humongous FBA I ended up doing on the tissue. She tissue fitted it and felt that it was okay but needed some work at the shoulder which she felt would be better done in calico. So that's my plan - I'd like to ge tit cut out before the tailoring class on Wednesday.

(Written Sunday)

I was taken by surprise by it being so dark so early today, thanks to the clock change. I haven't got the photos I wanted to take for this post, which has been written in dribs and drabs. I'm busy tomorrow  but  I might sneak in some photos before I go out tomorrow morning or in the evening after  I come back from the Sewing Bee.. (Edited to add - yes, they're there!)

Halloween tomorrow. We bought some goodies for possible guisers. We weren't brought up on Trick or Treat, which is getting more common here. I did have Halloween parties as a child and dressed up - we dooked for apples, tried to eat candy apples blindfolded etc. A long time ago!! I'm not at all sure about the 'trick' part of it - does that include egging houses if the householder doesn't provide money? Sounds unpleasant. The guisers who tend to come to our house are young children accompanied in the background by  a parent or older sibling. An occasional much older group, but we haven't had issues with them. We have had our house egged, twice. Not because we refused to provide - it wasn't even Halloween and we didn't see the people involved. Like ringing a doorbell and running away, but much nastier. 

Edited to add - we had a number of pleasant guisers. Usually wishing a Happy Halloween. Children. Dan was late for class tonight - she got her car egged. First time she's ever been the victim of egging.


  1. Hi Ann, you seem to be very fortunate to have classes close by. Where are they all held? Just curious, I'm always on the lookout for something good.

    1. Through the college course in Sunderland on pattern cutting and garment construction techniques which I attended for 2 years, I met Dan and Rory who have a studio now in Felling (Gateshead). They run classes, workshops and sewing bees plus do private tuition.
      The Thursday class is WEA. Lyn has other classes elsewhere, I believe, too. That was the first I found.
      The pyjama class was(/is) a monthly dressmaking class in a quilting shop in Blackhall Mill. Monthly wasn't often enough, with a long break over summer etc, to get any momentum and as it was so far away and I had Lyn's class, I dropped out.
      There are others around here for beginners and specific workshops - so much more than when I started looking. As I had never sewn, I was keen on the college approach to teach techniques but when I started looking, the college didn't get back to me and I missed the first year I could have done - then as you may have read in my blog, the college changed in a direction which really didn't meet my needs, though I persevered.
      I'm still trying to get that perfect fit!


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