Tuesday, 8 January 2013

A return

Heidi-ho folks!
Long time no see. Last year was just horrible for me, and, not being able to face writing about the horrible, I stopped blogging. However, looking back I’m finding it hard to remember the good and I’ve realised I really miss blogging. Yes, I have less time now than I did a year ago, but my life is also moving more interestingly and I feel the need to capture it better. So, here I am, making a return after a year of silence!

My year started out pretty terribly as my Nan, who I was very close to, died suddenly in January. That was a pretty bad time, as I helped my mum arrange the funeral and tried to find some way to comfort my Grandad, who’d been with her for 70 years.Things continued on a similarly depressing theme when in early March, my husband was run over by a van when crossing the road. Thankfully, he’s made an almost complete recovery, but in the early days my life was turned upside down as we waited to see what the damage would be. He very nearly lost a leg, but thanks to being close in the region’s trauma unit with some of the finest surgeons just happening to specialise in his specific injury, he’s now walking and just about able to run again. I spent about 5 months nursing him while he was bed bound and the stress and work involved set of my CFS, leaving me barely able to get us 3 instant meals a day. So basically I missed the first half of the year!

The rest of the year though, was ok. In November we spent a long weekend in Paris, my first real holiday in 3 years! 
We also redecorated the whole of the downstairs - plastering, carpets, painting, new doors, everything! There are a few tiny finishing touches to do, and we had a very minimal Christmas due to the workmen being in the house right up the Christmas eve, but it looks so much better now, it’s changed the whole feeling of the house!
I also finished my History A-Level with a B grade, and I’m thrilled to have done so well amidst the chaos I was in! I’ve taken courses in millinery, jean and shirt construction and got a college certificate in Fashion design.
I’ve started volunteering in a school, helping a group of 16 year olds to put on an event to raise funds for a local homeless shelter, which has been a huge amount of fun.
In December we adopted a new cat too (our third now!). Oscar was a stray with a bad flea allergy and was in a pretty sorry state when they found him. He’s settled in brilliantly though, and he’s now a purry, demanding lap cat!

Finally, the biggest change has been my sewing. I went part time in my office job early in the year and have used the time to start a small businesses sewing historical costumes for roleplayers and reenactors. My work has grown steadily and I was asked to help out in the design of a new game, Empire, for which I’ve now written guides to the different costumes you can wear and dressed people for a photoshoot and a video trailer for the game. 
As well as being really satisfying, it’s boosted my exposure in the right communities and I’ve had a huge amount of business through it. As a result I’m booked up for work till April and have been asked to speak at a convention in July! I’m really hopeful that things will progress like this for the rest of the year and that at some point I’ll be able to do this full time!

I’ve been able to really push myself with my sewing too. I’ve self drafted a corset, reproduced 2 different garments by taking a pattern from the finished items, reproduced a 1940s dress by drafting my own pattern based on photos,and am currently working on a full Georgian outfit, stays to hat, for a costume ball in April.

I’ve spent most of the time I’m sewing feeling hopelessly out of my depth and in a near constant state of panic that I’ve forgotten or messed something up, I’ve learnt a lot of lessons too, some of them pretty harsh, but I feel positive about it all. I’m trying to push myself further this year, by spending 2 hours a week working through the many sewing books I have. I’ve started with the basic ones and am working through to the couture and tailoring type books. I use most of my sewing books by flicking to the relevant part and skim reading to find out how to do a specific technique - now I’m stopping to read about why, as well as how, and taking in the recommendations on fabric, thread and machine settings! It’s already been helpful as I’ve been reminded of the best way to do some of the basics and picked up lots of new tips and tricks.
I’m cautiously optimistic about this year and looking forwards to getting back into the blogosphere. I really hope your 2012s were positive overall, here’s to 2013, when all our dreams come true!

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Corset making kickstarter project

Making Corsets is a Cinch with Electra Designs!

Electra Designs makes incredible corsets and now Alexis is looking for funding so she can share her skills with the rest of us.

Vists the kickstarter page

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Charity shop success

I had a very enjoyable day yesterday, pootling down the Gloucester Road in Bristol looking in charity shops and eating scrummy cakes with the husband. It was a lovely day, despite the cold, and I came away with a few real treasures!

I found this slubby fabric and thought it would make a great dress - it's heavy and has a great drape. I think it's curtaining fabric but it's very pretty all the same. At 6m for £15 I couldn't say no!
I also saw this homemade a-line skirt, soft blue floral cotton and trimmed with white lace. I think it'll need a couple of small darts in the waist to make it fit better but that's easy to do!
I also couldn't leave these shoes behind. They're in my size and in really good condition, and only £4. What a bargain!
They'll go well with my 1940s Swing Dress I'm trying to get finished for a wedding next weekend. I have to say it's causing me more trouble than I'd expected, but I'm getting there. Hopefully I'll have some stunning pictures of the finished item tomorrow...wish me luck!

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Briefs, briefly

So I finally got around to making a oair of knickers, and do you know, it wasn't as hard as I thought it'd be.
I picked Wearing History's Panties pattern, which doesn't seem to be available anymore. It's a good pattern and very easy to follow. I sewed these up in white flannel and can confirm that they're just the thing for warming the stocking-gap in winter

I'm in the middle of making another 2 pairs using Sew Vera Venus' free pattern, though they're not coming together quite as well. The pattern is pretty good but inserting the 'placket' and gusset are a bit tricky - though I've certainly not helped myself by using very slippery satin! I'll let you know how I get on once I've finished them!

Next up I'm going to try out Anna from A Few Threads Loose's pattern, which I bought through Etsy.  Anna's written some very handy sewalong instructions for these, so hopefully they'll be a doddle!
My hope is to find a very simple pattern which I can use to create plenty of everyday underwear without spending a fortune!
Has anyone else found a simple and reliable tap pant pattern?

Sunday, 8 January 2012

New Year, new resolutions

Back at the start of 2011 I made 7 resolution, unfortunately, I failed to achieve most of them...I'm wondering if I should try again this year.

2011 resolutions;
1. Sew at least 12 garments in 2011.
I made it to 11, so not a total fail. In fact I made a lot more than 11 garments - I've made trousers for my Mum, a skirt for a gift and about another 20 garments for myself and others to wear as costumes. As I'm going to make a lot more costumes in 2012, I'm going to try to make time to sew for myself as well. I think I'll be repeating this resolution!

2. Lose weight – any amount!
Success! I lost some, put some back on but I've come out ahead by 16lbs :) Another couple of pounds this year would be nice but I'm pretty pleased with this resolution!

3. Learn some German
Done. I took a class in beginner's German, though how much of it stuck, I don't know!

4. Redecorate sewing room
Fail. I did get a new kitchen though...

5. Pay off £2000 debt
Also fail. I'm earning less this year than I was last too, so I don't see huge success in 2012.

6. Sell clothes on etsy and ebay
Started and going well. I do need to get more items listed though.

7. Live with less – set budgets and stick to them!
Sigh. Total fail. Out of necessity I'm going to have to do this better now.

So, a mixed bag from last year's resolutions. Can I do better in 2012? As I've realised that I do tend to over-commit myself, my main resolution is to me more realistic about about what I can actually fit in and achieve. As such, I'm making just 5, easily achievable resolutions;

1. Sew 12 garments for myself in 2012
2. Eat more healthily and drink less
3. Organise my sewing room to make it a better work space
4. Go out more in the evenings
5. Budget properly. This includes recording business expenses properly.

How successful were your resolutions, and have you made any more?

Friday, 6 January 2012

Tinsel Town

So, the Christmas parties are done and dusted, the tree's come down and the diet's started. I for one an glad we're back to normality, though I am going to miss the lights!
I attended a couple of soirees, which I enjoyed immensely, though I had a bit of a damp Christmas, being really ill for most of it and thus spent New Years watching Buffy at home.

Fortunately, I did have fun in the pre-Christmas week. I went to a works do, where we had a lovely meal and more than one drink. I wore a lace blouse from Zara, an old charity shop find which only really comes out at Christmas, paired with my Nan's black velvet skirt - perfect for the cold, blustery evening. It felt odd wearing black stockings -  I've only worn tan ones for so long, but they're What Katie Did retro stockings, so I got to keep my seams at least.
Later the same week I went with friends to Blitzmas, a 40s themed dance in town. For this, I pulled out the Butterick dress I made back in 2010, but have only worn once! It didn't fit me that well back then, and I've lost weight since, but it's festive and just about the only Christmassy dress in my wardrobe, so out it came!
I accessorised with a handy bit of tinsel, and my trusty Clarks shoes (note to self, buy more evening footwear) I also wore my new MAC lippie, in Chilli, which is far darker and more orangy than my normal Russian Red, but actually a lot easier to wear. The colour still looks good and red as well as matte, but it's far less drying and not so flashy. It's my new firm favourite!
Blitzmas was a big success and I had a fantastic time with our friends, who not only looked great but showed off their mad swing dancing skills as well.

I have sworn that I'm going to try to get out more often in 2012!
What about you, any good parties over the festive season?

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Christmas circle skirt

Now that the gift exchanging is over and done with, I can talk about a skirt I made as a present.
I wasn't sure what to buy, so, knowing that the lady in question likes a 50s dress, thought I'd make her a circle skirt. I used the directions Casey posted in her sewalong to craft the size - using a 40" circle to give a likely hip (since I don't know the right dress size!) measurement, and sewed it onto a 28" band of elastic. This way the skirt can be pulled on and suits a good range of waist sizes!
It's a full circle and so it's massive. I think it'll look really good with a petticoat underneath. I couldn't resist the fabric, so very gothabilly!
To attach it to the waistband, I first overlocked the waist seam, and then pinned it to the inside of the elastic at regular intervals. Then I simply stretched the elastic till the fabric fell flat and zigzagged it on.
Simples! And it gives a nice even gather too!
While the maths was something of a challenge (working in a combination of inches and cms didn't help that), this was a breeze to make. I got to use my rolled hem foot and was pleased at how evenly the hem turned out. All in all, a great little project, and I'd strongly recomment Casey's sew along instructions to beginners.