Monday, 6 May 2013

Mad sewing skillz and some pictures of our chicken

So I've kind of been procrastinating this blog for ages. I started going to sewing classes nearly a year ago, and I've been wanting to write a blog about my creations for at least 6 months, but thanks to the ETERNAL WINTER, photographing them has been something of a struggle. It was dark every night when I got in from work, and even at weekends when the sun was out, the house was so ridiculously cold that I didn't particularly relish the idea of changing in and out of lots of different outfits.

But finally, spring is here! So this morning I nagged Alex to come out in the garden and take some pictures of me, and I've finally managed to snap (almost) all of the things I've made, so I'll share them here with you!

First though, here's a few pictures I had knocking around already...

When I started really making things, Christmas was coming up, so I decided to make canvas bags for lots of people. Unfortunately I gave them all away without taking pictures of them. Mum got an old iphone for christmas, so I asked her to try and take some shots on it.

She took the task quite seriously, and got a whole range, including one of my Dad modelling it (with some flair), turned inside out (so you can see the lining) with a ruler for scale, and others. Here's a montage...

I wish I'd managed to get pictures of the others, so if you got a bag from me for Christmas, send me a picture of you modelling it!

As it was Christmas, I also made a present for Alex. This one requires some explanation...
Before we were going out, we went to a craft fair together, and there was a lady there selling giant (and in my opinion a bit hideous) stuffed swans that cost about £100. Alex (and Hannah, who was with us too) spent the rest of the fair asking me to buy them a swan, and in future, whenever Alex wanted something ridiculous, he'd always append it with '...Oh, and get me a swan'.

So I got him a swan.
Well, made him a swan. And it's better than the ones that lady at the craft fair was selling!

I made the pattern up, which is probably not the generally accepted way of doing things, but I've discovered I'm possibly not the best sewer in that I'm not very patient, and generally prefer to fling myself into projects and hope for the best. No tacking or pinning for me! Tacking and pinning is for losers! Who needs a pattern?
Well it turns out tacking and pinning is sometimes for winners, and sometimes a pattern is really quite a good idea, and this is all probably why I will never be a Saville Row tailor, but ho hum, the swan turned out well, anyway. Alex was pretty pleased.

Here's him and our other housemate David hanging out on my bed with the swan. The swan is pretty social.

I also made a Christmas present for Hannah... I found this gorgeous floaty fabric at Fabricland, so I made a kimono style dressing gown out of it! I'd already made one for myself (which I haven't photographed). Again, no pattern, although this was based on a kimono which Alex owns. I'm really pleased with it! Hannah kindly took a couple of pictures for me!

 In other Christmas endeavours, I got my boss' name in the work Secret Santa. I was pretty stumped for a long time. For some context, I work in a very small office, and my boss is a lovely guy, it's not like he was some distant figure in a glass office on another floor. In emails, we generally refer to each other by our initials, and he's AG. So I decided to make him an AG cushion.
Possibly he was ever so slightly tipsy when he recieved it, but there was definitely genuine delight there. (He isn't normally wearing a ridiculous hat, by the way)

But anyway, Christmas fun aside, my main aim in learning to sew was wanting to make clothes. My first BIG project was to try and make a dress. I fell in love with this pattern...

And it says 'very easy'! Super!
But with the wonderful assistance of Wendy at MIY Workshop, I managed to work my way through it, and actually make the dress! However... well, I'm not a massive fan of the end result. I totally picked the wrong fabric for it... it's a gorgeous teal corduroy, but in such a solid block it's just not very flattering! I made the dress with the longer sleeves and longer skirt, which also may have been a mistake, as it's probably a bit frumpy. But I still consider it a success, as I managed to construct what seemed like a fairly complicated bodice, and put in a long zip! Here it is...

A slightly more successful project was this jersey skirt, using one of Wendy's patterns. I like it because it's basically just a couple of rectangles sewn together in a clever way! I've had a lot of compliments for this one. The fabric is a bit ridiculous, but great!

 I'm probably doing things in the wrong order here, but anyway... My first simple project was this skirt. I made the pattern myself, based on a wraparound skirt that Alex owns. The fabric is gorgeous!

However, I'm pulling a bit of a silly face in this picture, so I decided to ask Alex to take some new pictures of this, and other things I've made. We did it today, now the sun has finally come out! Every time I went in to put on a new outfit, Alex took loads of pictures of our chicken, Mildred. So you can have some of those too. In fact, here she is right now.

And here's a better picture of that skirt!

 Here's the first thing I ever made using stretchy jersey fabric. A lovely sleeveless top, perfect for summer! Another pattern by Wendy!

I like it so much I made two! This one is stripy!

This one was made without a pattern on a bit of a whim, and it's kind of terrible... or at least, it's so loud I don't think I'll wear it much, but I kind of loved the fabric when I saw it, and it was super cheap!

One of the best things about sewing is that you can make things to solve very specific problems that no manufacterer seems to have thought of. My problem: I like cycling to work. I like buying ingredients for dinner during the day and carrying them home. Sometimes I need to carry A4 folders or papers. Panniers are big and heavy and slow me down. I want a bag that folds down nice and small so I can carry it in my handbag when I don't need it, but when I do need it, it'll sit across my body so as not to swing about annoyingly. So I made this! I gave it a nice bright red strap which might make me more visible in traffic if I'm wearing a dark coat. It'd be cool to make another one of these with a reflective strap for winter months!

Anyway. One last thing to finish this somewhat avian themed sewing blog... I made an owl cushion. Out of owl fabric. Meta.

P.S. Just want to give another mention to MIY Workshop, I treated myself to a load of classes there, and it's been incredibly helpful in generally getting me over that intial 'my sewing machine is terrifying' bit. I inherited the sewing machine about 3 years ago and had mostly been too scared of it to use it! Glad I've got past that now :) Wendy is ridiculously patient, and very good at helping pick out the right projects to work on! She also has the patience of a saint, which is always a plus in someone teaching you stuff.