Monday, 14 November 2016

Slashed pillow and other scrappy ideas

I'm still wrestling with my scraps to get them under control. My scrap lace dress used up every bit of delicate, slinky, silky stuff I had going - and this pillow got practically all of the my knits sent away.

Cushion cover with 3d textured effect using slashed fabric

I'm trying to explore fabric manipulation/textile art as a means of using up scraps. It seems likethe kind of thing that is easier to try out if you have a stock of suitable stuff all ready to go and that no bit is really too small to shove into a project. This pillow uses the fabric slashing technique and a piece of optical illusion fabric from Ikea for the style lines (originally destined for a Matthew Bourne style set of PJs).

Layering fabric to produce 3d effect

One large sandwich of fabrics, waiting to become a cushion cover

I layered far too much fabric in this sandwich, it  really wants only a couple of bits in there so it has a consistent look. In a way this was a proof of concept - testing the fabric slashing technique for other projects in the future. I'm somewhat unconvinced but it's a useful reference. Also, it nearly broke my poor workhorse Janome 7025 - it was like a mattress!

But the knit scraps have gone!

The cushion is becoming a bit more colourful with wear. Two unexpected (but unsurprising) side effects are that the cushion cover is grippier than a flat cushion and that it's quite warm.

So all that remains is my immense "generic" wovens scraps piles. I have 400+ squares for a quilt (started cutting in 2012 or 2013) which has fallen out of favour, plus 2 unallocated bags of scraps and a small sub-section of specificallys elected scras for some sort of loose leaf file or laptop sleeve (using the water soluble stabiliser again). My thoughts turn to weaving too, but any ideas are gratefully received.

K x

Friday, 4 November 2016

Curiouser & Curiouser - Dumb projects for winter

These are a not so recent pair of trousers. I must admit that they are a completely dumb project to be showing off in the middle of winter. In my defence, I had this idea in Feb 2015, when Liberty was having an online sale and triple points offer on their fabric (which would have actually made them an ideal summer project).

The outer is their classic Tana Lawn in the Curiouser & Curiouser print. I think it was part of the Alice in Wonderland series. Perfect for warm weather. Except that I made these in November 2015 and wore them to the office Christmas party.

The inspiration for these trousers was to develop my own spin on the bright, floral print trousers that seem to be on the streets these days. I bought the fabric first with the intention of making trousers, but hit a roadblock when trying to decide how they would look. I wanted to steer clear of cigarette, palazzo and hareem/hippy styles so a fairly standard suit trouser would work well. With trousers like these you can't really play with cut/style etc before they become very outlandish. The lawn doesn't have any stretch so I also needed to choose a style would let me move while wearing them (i.e. not skin tight). The pattern is Burda 04/2013 #103 Pleated Pants, which is actually the trouser complement to a jacket I made a while ago (version 1, version 2).

Unexpectedly, these have become a hit because they fit well under motorbike trousers, take up close to zero luggage space, are super comfy and can be thrown on over leggings after tap class. Like joggers/trackies. Except they're multicoloured. And they're actually dress trousers in disguise.

They're lined with a yellow cotton muslin (originally destined for another project) from Cloth House, The pocket lining is black/fuschia remnants from Misan Textiles. The fusible interfacing is from MacCulloch & Wallis. It's a veritable Soho party!

I dithered about making these for a long time because the fabric was expensive and it was so tough to see a a good result in my head. I was also wary of adornments and extras. It was important to strike the right balance of formality (darts not yokes, welt pockets not patch pockets, zip fly but with discreet buttons)  and flair, but the whole thing became quite daunting.

(Advance warning: I'm about to wax lyrical about tap again)

Sometimes daunting is a good thing, you need to stare the fear in the eye and make tiny steps towards the finishing line. Gradually it'll subside and you have will have won a battle. Sometimes you throw up your hands and say "not today", come back in 6 months. I've done that plenty of times in sewing - some things have gone well and some ended up as duds, but they were done and I was proud (or just relieved). I threw my hands up a couple of times on this project too, which is why they were finished in November and not March.

One of the most important parts of this kind of process - making, learning, challenging yourself and trying things - is to stop and say "wouldn't it be awesome if...". Or have someone to do it for you, who will make you do it anyway. I think these trousers are a means of paying respect to all the people - especially in the tap world - who are teachers, motivators, coaches, artists, athletes, enthusiasts and role models. They are major inspirations for me and for fellow sufferers of "Royally Screwing It Up 95% Of The Time" Syndrome. Without them saying things like "Next we're gonna do X, and you know what? It's gonna be awesome!" every 3 minutes in class, we wouldn't keep trying.

I'm working on it though, I try to wear these trousers as a reminder - the work you do between walking away from a challenge, and coming back to it 6 months later is important, don't forget it.

K x

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Please don't leave me, tiny radish

I didn't sew this radish, I merely stitched on a pin back so that I could wear it as a brooch. It is the most recent thing I've sewn - finished over 10 weeks ago. Up until this week I didn't believe I'd lost my sew-jo, merely that many other (important) things had gotten in the way of sewing. That I couldn't wait to get back to the machine. But recently I've been feeling a dread and trepidation and actually a bit of distaste for whatever I'm thinking of creating. Not just sewn, though it is a large part of my thinking, - but everything I might create - word-wise, food-wise, gift-wise, music-wise, (nascent) woodwork and anything in between.

I realise 2016 should have been The Year of The Outfit, but I've had very little success on the actual outfits. I feel I look a fool.

So maybe I hope for better and unpack my tools

Maybe I just restart, because it's easier to carry on than it is to overcome a mental barrier before you can even begin.

Radish Brooch


Friday, 23 September 2016

A Collection of Sorts

Recently I got the chance to put together a merch stall for a fringe-style show. This was real theatre made from tiny benches, stripped back black boxes and volunteer labour. Here's what I came up with: 


Screwdrivers (aren't they amazing!)

Shoe Bags

Shoe bags in 2 designs. Generic and branded. I sewed a few dozen bags in a fairly simplistic design - even though I did make an odd decision to make welts in all the bags for the handles. I also got to laser etch the leather patches  though. How cool is that!

I had a plan for some cool pin badges but various things went wrong and they didn't happen.

I need more laser time to practice and get some cool projects under my (admittedly also laser etched) belt. 


Thursday, 11 August 2016

Scrap Lace Dress

What story should I tell you about this dress? Do you want to know the provenance of all the scraps? Do you want to know all of the adjustments I made to V8766 to make this? Do you want to know where all of the mistakes are hiding? Should I draw a crazy parallel between making this dress and pagan/voodoo rituals (all pins and quadragrams taped to the floor)?

a dress and bolero made from silk scraps
Full scrap lace outfit
I bet you'd love to hear all about my dorky Oona impressions, drunk on a mix of design genius and Thatchers cider.

No? No takers?

My photos tell a more cohesive story about this dress than my words did at first. Now that the scraps have settled, it's a little easier to put together.

The original motivation for this prioject was to find a creative way of using up my silk/fancy scraps; to create a pretty dress and to try something a bit challenging from a technical perspective. Threads ran this article on scrap lace a few years ago and I had the issue tucked away in my bookcase. I've seen some scrap lace projects for kids clothing, but never for adults so it seemed like a good idea to give it a try.

My design originally was for a sleeveless cowl neck (big surprise) and quite a blousy bodice with a scrap lace skirt. The original plan was a half-circle skirt, but B talked me into making a full circle.

The next step was to make 2x 60" sheets of water soluble stabiliser. If you've ever used it, you'll know that it's mostly designed for small scale freestanding embroidery. I sewed strips together to make a large sheet.

This was punctuated by running out of stabiliser (because, duh, I only ordered enough for a half-circle skirt) and having to wait for a new delivery (thanks Jaycotts!)

One of my housemates remarked that someone had once given her edible underwear made from a similar material. Apparently the taste wasn't great.

Then I got 6 years of silk scraps and dumped it out onto the plastic. I laid the other layer on top, pinned like Billy-o, drew some guidelines and then look it to the machine.

After solving the issue of how to get it under the pressure foot, I spent about 2 weeks quilting it in all directions. Lots of spirals were used as well as grids. Any loose bits that fell out of this giant sandwich just got sewed back on top again.

The anticipation was too much for some people at this point. B complained that he couldn't say if he liked it because it was covered in plastic, and my housemate volunteered to be angry on my behalf if it turned out looking like crap. People can be so kind.

Finally I got to give it a shower!

"It looks like peeling sunburn"
"It looks like the girl from The Ring when she went through her hippie phase"
Again, people can be so kind.

Instead of wringing it, I rolled it up in some towels and walked on it a bit, then left it to dry

Bear in mind that's not the whole dress! It's only the outer fabric for the skirt! I modified the V8766 bodice to fit my design and sewed it up pretty quickly.

Then I decided I hated the full circle skirt. Cue the unpicker and the scissors.

The half circle skirt worked much better. And I had enough left to make a cardi/shrug/bolero. This is just a basic raglan, cut to minimise waste.

I think this is an outfit I never knew I needed! It was perfect for some friends' rainbow-themed wedding ("very City & Guilds!", Mother of the Bride) and STF's Rocky Horror Theme Party!


Sunday, 17 July 2016

Baby Bundle

Before anything else, all this stuff was nominally free. It all came from my stash (though some is <6 months old), at some point I've paid good money for it, though not specifically to make these items. Actually, it's all from my knit stash and scraps. I had plans to do the same with the regular woven fabrics too, but I just ran out of gusto.

As I've said before, you only get one first nephew, and you only get to meet him for the first time once! Almost everything here was for him, except for a couple of items which have headed to a friend's son, about the same age.

Sunhat (Oliver & S)

Yellow Nautical Bucket Hat

Elephants (Birch Fabrics blog) and Woolly Mammoths

Elephant soft toys

Elephant and mammoth soft toys

Whales, big and small (heavily modified and pirated, so I'm not telling you any more)

Big whale and little whale plushies

2 whale plushies sat next to each other

Onesie (Burda)


Cardigan (Burda)

Serengeti Flight Stripe Cardi

Cardigan and shorts (Burda)

Monster cardi and shorts

Green leggings (Burda)

Green leggings backGreen leggings front


3x shorts (Burda)

Assorted shorts

Robot outfit (Burda)

Robot outfit

Drawstring bags (no pattern)

Drawstring bags

Grenadier Guard outfit, sans hat (Burda)

Grenadier Guard outfit for baby

Everything is in a range of sizes so hopefully they'll all get a bit of use.

First indcators say that the big whale is getting a lot of attention

Not really got much else to say about these...I counted them up and am just a bit staggered really.