Friday, 6 March 2015

Review: The Great British Sewing Bee

Like almost all you British sewists out there, I've been absolutely loving the latest series of The Great British Sewing Bee!  Now in it's third season, this show has become such a staple in my life!

Spoiler alert for anyone who didn't see last nights episode - I was so gutted that Deborah went. Along with Neil, she was my favourite, and she just had such a bad day. That was a bit tragic, but she took it really well - despite her good alteration, I think she knew it was coming after the difficulty with the jacket. At this stage in the competition, even the ones who leave have still done a fantastic job, and I think her and Paul had both done brilliant jackets, but they just weren't quite up to the standard of the others.

Some of my highlights in this series so far...

  • The kilts.  Oh my goodness - were they not completely fantastic?!  Watching how quickly they turned them around was just amazing - I was completely in awe.
  • The corsets.  Same as the kilts - fantastic!  Let's be honest, I'll never be wearing one of these, but they looked so amazing.

  • The denim shirt alterations in episode 1. The alteration challenge is a fantastic opportunity to see creativity in action - something which I know would definitely be a massive fail for me if I ever went on the Bee, because I just can't think on my feet with the alterations the way some of the contestants can.  However, I did absolutely love a number of the denim skirts which were made!  They had some brilliant ideas.  I know Neil's was criticized because it wasn't symmetrical, but it was a really lovely skirt, and I quite fancy having a go at one myself.  I'm wondering if old pairs of jeans could be used - I don't have any denim shirts but I've got loads of old jeans that don't fit any more!  Again, my sizing might be a *bit* tricky right now, but there's always elasticated maternity waistbands...
  • The all in one dress from '50s week - this was brilliant, and they turned out so cute!  Again, this is something I really fancied having a go at myself, and I've seen loads of people making them on Facebook.  I definitely would prefer not to make it on a '50s Singer, though...!

The Bee is such a brilliant way of showing people that sewing is actually so easy to do - so many of these sewists have never done a lot of the things on the show, and yet they are able to make the most fantastic outfits.  And even when things aren't 'perfect' for May and Patrick, they are completely wearable and still brilliant!

The pressure of the timing, as well as the TV cameras about, must be so difficult.  I always feel so bad for all those people who sewed things together the wrong way round / inside out etc. I have done that so many times myself - of course, it doesn't matter in the privacy of your own home, where only your husband can hear you ranting - but on national TV, with a tight deadline - so frustrating!!!

Can't wait for the final next week...!

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Work in progress: my first quilt

Quilting has commenced!  I really want to make a quilt for Baby T, and I finally got started yesterday when I nipped into Fabricland to buy a few extra fat quarters and some quilt batting for the filling of the quilt.  That got me inspired, so I retrieved the pattern I had chosen months ago from Pinterest - this simple quilt pattern from Flossie Tea Cakes - and got started!

So far, I've not got any actual sewing done - as I suspected, just as with clothes, there is a lot of preparation to do before you actually start sewing the quilt together.

First up...cutting out 90 rectangles of fabric 6.5" by 2.5".  Definitely time consuming - although my cutting board and rotary cutter came in very hand and saved a lot of hassle.  As you can probably gather, I'm trying to keep the quilt away from either gender, as Baby T is still a surprise!  I'm hoping to decorate the nursery in grey and yellow, so hopefully the introduction of the orange and the black with stars won't be too offensive...!

Next, you to pin the rectangles together in batches of three.  This will give me the squares which I will then sew together to make the front of the quilt.

Here's a selection of my pinned rectangles - all piled up on top of my sewing box ready for sewing!  I'm doing my best to keep as much variety as possible, so I hope they're okay - I'll probably not know until they're all sewn up and I have a chance to lay them out flat.  So far, so good though...

Hopefully there'll be some actual sewing involved in my next post - but I'm enjoying doing something for the baby so far, even if it's just been cutting and pinning as yet!

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Learning to knit

My knitting is progressing slowly...but surely :)

I first bought a book with the intention of learning to knit in October, at the Knitting and Stitching Show.  Quadrille had 15% off everything on their stand, and they had this gorgeous 'Learn to Knit, Love to Knit' book.  I loved it, bought it...and then ignored it for a few months!

However, at Christmas (always a good opportunity to learn new things), I asked my mum for knitting needles, and set myself down to learn on the 1st of January.  The Learn to Knit book, as it turns out, is excellent - Kimberlee, at the Knitting Mama, recommends it for learners, and I have found the instructions and the associated pictures really easy to follow - although it was handy to have my mum around as well, for some additional clarification if required.

At the moment, I'm part way through two patterns:
  • A simple baby blanket, from a pattern mum gave me along with my new knitting needles.  I'm knitting it in yellow, as Baby T's gender is a surprise until he/she arrives with us.  This has been a good first pattern, as it's giving me the chance to hone my basic skills on a big block of knitting!  I have made a few faux pas so far, but I'm also hopeful that as it's a blanket, it'll not be too noticeable!

    The one thing I am noticing about knitting, rather than crocheting, is that it does take a lot longer to produce something - there's is a lot more empty space in crocheting, particularly when you're doing treble crochets!  So let's hope the blanket is finished in the four months that I have left before Baby T makes their appearance!

  • Wrist warmers, from the Learn to Knit book.  I got a few of these teal coloured hanks of wool at the Knitting and Stitching show, and thought they would be perfect for the wrist warmers in the book.  This is a simple pattern, and also a much smaller project that the baby blanket, so hopefully will be something I can make up fairly quickly!

I'm really enjoying knitting so far, and I'm looking forward to keeping you updated with my progress!

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

2015 Craft Resolutions

Happy New Year to you all!

It's a bit of a shock to realise that it's already the 6th of January - our Christmas visit to Wrexham and the following trip over new year to Belfast meant the holiday absolutely flew in.  Back to porridge this week unfortunately - dragging myself out of bed yesterday and today was a massive struggle!

A quick recap on my 2014 resolutions before I have a think about my plans for 2015.

Sewing room
  • Success on the sewing room - I made our spare room into my little sewing haven, and it's been a fantastic space for sewing this year.  However, as you know, a bit of a change in our circumstances mean that sewing room is soon to become baby room, and so it's likely that the sewing room will have to be retired fairly soon.  I'll probably try to move the desk, and the faithful Matilda the mannequin into the other spare room, so we'll have to see how things go this coming year
  • One dress made in 2014, instead of the two I had planned for - I know, not impressive!  I was so pleased with the one I did make, but then illness, and of course, a bit of a changing shape now, mean that making dresses has been a bit low on the priority list!  I do have plenty of patterns, so I might get a maternity dress made (we'll see!) - otherwise, it might provide a bit of motivation for losing baby weight once Baby T arrives!
Craft classes
  • I got two classes last year - one on linings, and one on making your own designer jeans! I've done part of the jeans one, and part of the linings one - they're both on hold, as making jeans would be a bit daft at this stage - and I'm not making any lined garments at the moment either, for a similar reason!

2015 resolutions

Learn to knit

With the fact that we're having a baby, comes an irresistible desire to knit tiny cute clothes!  I got the most gorgeous book for my secret santa present at work, and decided that I definitely need to learn to knit - I love crocheting, but knitting will bit good to broaden the spectrum and somehow use up my extra yarn!

The reason for learning to knit!

For Christmas, my mum got my a knitting bag, and a whole set of bamboo knitting needles - as well as a simple pattern and some wool (oops, already accumulating more...!).  I've started making a simple blanket, and can now cast on, and do the knit and purl stitches.  Not very impressive thus far...still, I have stitches on needles, so that's got to be a good thing!

Make a quilt

Quilting initially seemed a bit old fashioned to me, when I first started sewing.  But as I've explored the sewing world some more, I've seen some of the really brilliant quilts done with modern patterns, and anyway, vintage is in :)!  I'd love to make a quilt for the baby - a first step is some very cute material which I picked up in Bath a while ago - these little owls are just adorable.  That's my key project for before Baby T is born.

I'm only going to make these two resolutions for now - I'm not sure how much I'm going to be able to do on the sewing front pre baby, and I'm sure it'll be even less once Baby T arrives, so I'm not being too ambitious!  But I hope that 2015 will be great - for lots of reasons, not just the crafting that's up ahead...!

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Happy Handmade Christmas (stockings)

A very happy Christmas to all my blog readers!  As yesterday was the first day of my holiday, Pete and I had a lovely relaxing day at home, generally putting our feet up before the Christmas rush.  I took the opportunity to do a bit of sewing, which was really nice.

For the first year, we've decided to do Christmas stockings for each other - I thought it would be nice to get this little tradition into play before baby comes along next year!  I've seen a few stockings about, but as my mantra often is these days, why buy it when I can make it myself!?

This free stocking template from Love Sewing magazine came in very handy.  It was intended for a Scandinavian paper piecing stocking, but I definitely didn't have time for that malarky today, and it was a great template for my needs as well.

I used A4 pieces of felt for the body of the stocking.  Obviously, I wanted the stockings to be bigger than one A4 piece of felt (assuming that my hubby has been out buying me lots of pressies!), so each stocking piece was made of 2 pieces of felt, which I attached with some lovely red spotty bias binding which I had lying about.  I thought the green, red and white was a lovely festive combination.

To differentiate between them, it seemed like the best idea was to put our initials on the stockings - I managed a slightly wonky R and P done in white, just to complete the effect!

Looking forward to waking up to these full on Christmas morning - I suppose I'd better get my wrapping finished or 'P' might be a bit disappointed...!

Happy Christmas, and every blessing for the New Year!

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Christmas tree decoration

Less than a week until Christmas!  I love this time of year - it's so fun getting the house decorated, and I love the Christmas sights and smells!  I did manage a little bit of Christmas craft when I was sorting through some of my ribbons and bits and pieces in the sewing room.

This was such a simple little craft to do, and results in a lovely little handmade decoration for your tree.  Last year, someone got me these cute little metal Christmas trees.  I have lots of ribbons about - some of them which I've bought, and some have come from presents and wrapping on gifts.

All I did was wrap the Christmas tree in a length of festive ribbon.  When I was finished, I secured the base of the tree with a little stitch, and that kept it all together.  I also added a loop of thread to the top of the decoration, and it was ready for hanging on our tree!

Here's our tree, looking festive!  We're off to Wales to stay with the Townsend contingent on Christmas Eve - can't wait!

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Tartan snood

I've really not been a very conscientious blogger - or sewer - recently - many apologies.  Real life has somewhat got in the way!  For those of you who aren't on Facebook with me, we have had some very happy news - we're expecting a baby :)!  Baby T is due at the end of May 2015.  We're really excited - and I'm finally beginning to feel like a 'real person' again - not feeling sick every time I look at food, which is nice, and also getting a bit more energy back, now that I'm into the second trimester.

With Baby T on the way, this means we're starting to think about the sewing room - which will become baby's bedroom.  At the moment it's cluttered with sewing stuff (and other mess!), so I've been trying to sort through some of my fabric / sewing things, and have discovered various lovely fabrics which I had completely forgotten about.

One of those was this gorgeous tartan - which I bought way back in May, in Bude.  I absolutely loved the colours - bright colours are my absolute favourite.  I had the notion that I wanted to make a snood out of it, but never quite got round to it - especially as it then came into the summer, and scarves were the last thing we needed this year!

Still, when I dug it out today, I thought I would seize the opportunity to make myself a snood at last - particularly as I've not really sewn anything in ages, and this was a really easy little project.  I did a quick Google search, and found this handy tutorial.  As usual, I didn't quite follow the instructions - my material wasn't 66 inches long - a mere 57 inches - and it certainly wasn't stretchy, but it made up just as I wanted it, which is the important thing.

I took advantage of the bright (but chilly) afternoon, and got the husband out to take a few photos for me...!  You can wear this snood loosely round your neck, if you're somewhere fairly warm and are just wearing a scarf as an accessory - something which I do quite often!  On the other hand, there's enough fabric there to wrap round once, which will be perfect for me when I'm walking to work and need something to keep me cosy.

I've a suspicion I'll be wearing this a lot - time to dig out all my bright colours in time for the winter!