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    Entries in sewing (16)


    New Sewing machine :)

    I decided it was time for a new sewing machine. Not for classes - I use my Janome J3-24 for those as it's such a reliable machine that I've had for around 8 or 9 years now. I want to replace my home machine. I have a Singer Brilliance 6180 which is great for dressmaking & most sewing, but doesn't deal with all the layers involved in bag making well. It also doesn't have a way to drop the feed dog, just a plastic plate to cover it. That works fine for sewing buttons on, but it doesn't really cut it for free motion embroidery. 

    I ordered a Necchi online, but when it arrived, it wasn't what I needed. So I called the company, and after talking about what I needed, they switched the Necchi for an AEG 260. It arrived on Friday, and I didn't get the chance to open it until early evening.

    I've never come across an AEG machine before, even though I've seen a lot of machines in my classes & workshops. It's german made, and comes with a 15 year guarantee, so it should be fine, but I thought I would give it a proper test.

    First, on some mid weight scrap fabric, I tested each stitch pattern. I especially love the ones shown in the detail photo . The flowers are lovely, but more importantly - CROCODILES! That one is going to be used all the time!

    Then I tested all the buttonholes. You can see where I started the second one too close to the first and had to abandon it. I don't know why anyone other that a professional tailor would need 8 buttonholes, but I like to check them anyway. I'm pretty sure that I will use the default one most of the time (top, rectangular), but I also really like the top left one with the pointed end bar & rounded (rather than keyhole) top. 

    Finally I tested layers. The bottom left photo shows the results. I didn't change needle or thread, but switched to denim. The straight line was sewn through 4 layers. All the others were sewn through 8 layers, without the slightest problem.  The only thing I haven't tested yet is free motion sewing but as you can drop the feed dog, I don't anticipate any problems All in all, it's a great start - and it looks like I'll be able to sell my Singer! 

    What do you do when you get a new sewing machine? Do you leave it in the box like lots of the people who end up on my sewing classes? Do you test stitches like I do? Or do you just dive right in and make clothes?


    Me Made May - Everyday Skirt by Liesl & Co

    Are you taking part in Me Made May? I haven't made a formal pledge, but I tend to wear home made clothes pretty often anyway.

    I am pretty pleased with how this wearable practise skirt came out. I found the pattern at a charity shop a week or so ago, already cut in a size L, so I didn't make any alterations for this version other than adding premade piping to the pocket openings (which you can't see on this photo), and I think I'll make it again. It's very easy to wear and more flattering than most elasticated waist skirt patterns, as it's only elasticated at the back - the front has a flat waistband with a lightly gathered front panel. Pattern is the Everyday Skirt by Liesl & Co. They are the adult version of Oliver & S who make gorgeous kid's patterns - worth checking out if you haven't come across them. What's especially good is the range of decent boy patterns - boys are often rather left out when it comes to cute practical kids patterns.

    The instructions for the skirt were very clearly written, although I didn't really have to pay much attention to them. If you wanted an even easier sew, you could simply skip the pockets - just draw the pattern line staight across the pocket indent & skip the pocket pieces. I used a really small amount of fabic - less than a metre, but it was wider than quilting cotton - so it's a good one for using up fabric that's not got enough yardage for more complex skirts. I used a different gathering method than the pattern suggested - I did a line of zig zag stitching over a piece of cord, then took out the cord & stitches after sewing the gathers in place. The skirt isn't lined, but that's not a problem as I can just wear a slip underneath if I'm wearing tights, and in the summer I don't want a lined skirt anyway. Although this fabric is way more see through than I realised, so I might need to wear one anyway!



    Keeping it simple

    I've fallen out of the habit of blogging, as is pretty obvious on here! I will get back to it, but in the meantime I post much more regularily on Instagram. It's quick and easy; I use the camera on my phone rather than having to use my proper camera - which needs the battery charging & I can't find the charger - uploading images, editing them down to a reasonable size, and loading them onto the website. And I'm all about simplicity at the moment.

    There are lots of complicated things going on at home, to do with our oldest son, whether the local education authority will let him stay at his school post-16, claiming disability allowance & doing the attendant paperwork & interviews and stuff like that. So my head in full of complexity and I'm finding (once again) that crafts are my perfect outlet. 

    I bought an old loom ages ago and have been scared of it since. So I decided to just try it, use leftover yarns & see if I could make a simple scarf. As you can see, I did! And the potential of weaving is so exciting. Especially when considered alongside handspun yarns, with all their character. My spinning mojo is back - I'll be showing you more on the blog soon. I've been learning new skills, and went on a Quilt Routes workshop last saturday. I'm so in love with my little piece of machine sewn artwork, and can't wait to do more.


    The focus on simplicity has spilled over to work too. I had always planned to do self published work this year, with a couple of book ideas in my head that needed refining. Then an idea popped into being all by itself and wouldn't go away. So unexpectedly, granny squares have become my focus, and I'm about half way though the designs for a book! With such a clear focus, I can't go haring off, getting distracted by other ideas. I'm being very disciplined about the designs, and it turns out I'm falling back in love with granny squares. The designs are not all actually square, but they all come from that construction & I'm loving it. Happy days :)




    Going underground

    All Photos credit Juju Vail for The London Craft Guide

    If you're a UK knitter you may have heard of the Great London Yarn Crawl, organised by my friends Rachel & Alli. Having run the yarn crawl for a couple of years, they decided that they would be in the perfect position to write a crafty guide to London. There are loads of great yarn, fabric & haberdashery shops in the city and soon you'll be able to find out where they are & lots more.

    I can't wait to see the book. There are 9 patterns from different designers - mostly knitting, 2 sewing, and I have a little bit of crochet in mine too. From a photo posted to Instagram, it looks like the book will also have mini craft crawls too. I know (as a non-Londoner) I will be trying those out as there are so many interesting bits of London I haven't visited, and this gives me the perfect excuse.

    I kept my bag simple - there are no tricky techniques or difficult to get hold of materials and the zip is as simple as it can be. I used 3 fat quarters of Liberty fabric - as it's such a famous London brand - but I had loads of fabric left. There is a matching purse, and both the purse & bag are small enough that you could hand sew them if you wanted to. I did an interview which is on the yarn in the city blog here, so I won't repeat myself. But I really like this pattern, and am thrilled to see the photos. The book will be launched at Unravel, Farnham Maltings (19th-21st Feb 2016). I'll be going on the Saturday - I might see you there?




    Busy busy!

    I'm still here! I haven't forgotten you. I've just had a slightly manic few weeks. I had a couple of short deadline knitting designs to do which took most of my time. I still have the second part of the Hook, Stitch & give review to so - but I haven't managed to take a photo of the hat I made yet.

    I'm doing the Woolly Wormhead Mystery hat-a-long, which is coming along nicely - but I can't show you photos until the whole pattern is released. I have a sinking feeling that this project is not for me. I love it - but it's telling me it's for a gift. Now this is not especially like me as I only give hand made presents to people that I deem especially gift-worthy, so I'm not sure why I'm feeling that this (lovely) hat isn't mine. It's even in my favourite colour (yes, purple, since you ask!). It's a mystery in more than one sense of the word!

    I still haven't quite finished the Marie Curie mitts - but they are utterly delightful & totally hitting all my geeky buttons. I wasn't going to use beads - until I saw the design. Each hand is a little different and feature the atomic models of the two atoms that Marie Curie and her husband discovered, Radium and Polonium. The beads are the electrons. The big silver bead is the nucleus, so it had to be a different bead - obviously. I have about a quarter of the second mitten & both thumbs to do & I'll show you when they're finished. LOVE THEM!

    I ran my first bag making workshop on 1st November & despite some early problems - like a forgotten sewing machine plus a forgotten power cable (not mine, but it did justify me owning two sewing machines!) the students were brilliant & made fantastic bags. Look!


    I really enjoyed the bag making workshop & look forward to running it again :)