Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Money Saving Tips for the Frugal Stitcher (2/7) - Look After Your Tools

Okay everyone, today we're going to talk about your toolkit. If you look after your tools, you probably look after your projects, which means everything lasts longer and you'll probably end up with a better finished project. 

1. Good things come to those who wait
Hold on, as always. do you need to buy that brand new gadget right now?

With classic tools in particular, it's likely that if you wait long enough, somehow you'll find it for free or at a supreme discount. Why? Because dressmakers have been using pattern tracers for decades and tailors have been using shears for even longer. You know those Singers everyone loves? One day All Saints will go bust and *BAM*, free antique Singer machines all over the place.

Example? I've been hankering for pinking shears for quite some time. Look what turned up at a recent family house clearance:

Not only are they free, but I'm going to do everything possible to never buy another pair.

2. Maintain your tools
Clean your machine, get it serviced. It's much cheaper than repairs or new machines. Make sure your threads are dust-free, look after your pens and rulers, don't get interfacing glue on your iron...look after your cutting equipment.

Let's talk scissors and shears: keep them clean, keep them sharp. I'm using this tutorial on Instructables, repainting the handles and sending the shears off to be sharpened. Yes, £20 to be sharpened professionally, but £30 brand new. Come hell or high water, these will last.

3. Look after your materials
Part of me thinks this goes without saying: don't let your stash rot, bleach, dusty, get ripped up. Store sensibly and check it regularly (hey, you might get some inspiration). There is no greater waste of money than letting your stash get ruined without ever touching it.


Wednesday, 12 March 2014

The Long Way Back Home Messenger

Guys, another messenger bag for you. This one is mine :)

Mamma's got a brand new bag

I was dithering over a name. It was going to be The Money Saving Messenger because it's made entirely of scrap fabric and it saved me a lot of money, but then I went out and spent £7 on webbing at Ray-Stitch. So that name went out the window.

In the end, we've got a new one for the Barenaked Collection. I'm calling it the Long Way Back Home Bag. Why? Perhaps it's a kick-ass song, perhaps it's because the bag is blue, perhaps it's because the bag is just big enough to help me skip the country should the occasion arise*. Perhaps because it's just right to hold everything I call home.
See? Holds all of the important things

It's a bag from travels, meant for travels. The design is taken from a wrecked bag I had as a teen that has journeyed around Europe, the components are from 5 different places I've called home and hopefully the bag will be trekking a lot again this year.

Incidentally, do you know where I was last week? Here's a clue:
Spot the bag...
I've decided to road test it properly on a whirlwind trip to NYC, and am glad to say it took some abuse and fared really well! 

I somehow managed to cram in a flying visit to Mood (realising on 34st I'd never actually looked up the address), and came away with two beautiful silks. I was overwhelmed the first time I visited Goldhawk Road, but man, Mood is something else! That place is crazy! 
Concerned about the organised chaos
Anyway, back to the bag. I used Simplicity 2358 as a base again, but made some very heavy functional modifications. I demand a lot from a bag so I took features from all the bags I like and have tried to remake them. Mostly this includes a hell of a lot of extra pockets. The one on the back from my other version is there again, I added 3 in the main compartment, a hidden zippered pocket between the main compartment and the flap facing, and a whole new compartment in the front of the bag.

Concealed pocket between main compartment and flap facing

The new compartment is a basic zippered addition, with a few extra pockets in it. Can you tell I'm a fan of pockets?

The new compartment and its interior pockets
One other functional addition before looking at design features. Check this out, IT'S ONLY A BLOODY BUILT-IN RAIN COVER!


Check it out!
I had some spare rip-stop and elastic (fugly knicker elastic in case you were wondering) that needed using, so I made a rain cover. Boom.
Cut out a square and sew a  casing around the edge
Feeding fugly knicker elastic through...

So, I really wanted to take some time over the design aspects too. The colours are largely RGB (what else?) and most of the colour coordination has been consistent. The topstitching is a brightish blue, and complements the bright red strap. I had some spare cotton sateen ribbon so added that to the front compartment too. 

Okay, the strap is a little dodgy. These striped bag straps are absolutely everywhere at the moment and Raystich has an excellent selection of colourways for them. I'm absolutely in love with them. However, finding the correct size hardware in London is impossible (38mm), I hate it. In the end, the best fudge-solution was a backpack slider and a spare 50mm d-ring. Not ideal, definitely looks a little fudged but it does the job. 

The D-ring in action

My favourite design feature is the piecing (cough, fudge fix, cough) in the main compartment, which is finished with some golden topstitching. I really wanted to use the kelsch in this project and am so glad it was possible, if only just.

All of the components laid out in construction order
Reduced to two separate pieces
Construction was a BIG headscratching moment as there were a lot of pieces to fit together in the right order. I spent many hours staring at it all laid out, just trying to visualise how it would work. In the end, I pulled the whole bag inside out through the front compartment. It was a difficult birth.

Big bag, tiny hole

The bag is settling in well to its new life. In the spirit of showing that it's actually being used, here's a picture of it in action after we discovered a topiary elephant in North London last week.

Topiary elephant. Casual.

That's it for now! See ya!


*turns out the airport authorities might be a bit suspicious of baggage you make yourself. It may lead to your precious me-makes getting swabbed, and generally getting held up at every opportunity.

PS. Many thanks to Katrina from Muffin Top Vintage for some of the lining fabric, it's a vintage curtain, she made an awesome dress from it an kindly donated some yardage to the epic swap last year. Thank you! It's gone to good use!

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Checking-in, Motivation and The Stockholm Challenge

Hey guys,

How are we all doing? 

Here at Culture Capital things have been busy. Things are still busy, and I haven't really been able to sit down and work on projects from start to finish for about a month. That doesn't mean there's no news, just riding out a lull and am getting ready to hit the foot pedal again when the time is right. Hopefully soon. 

Until then, I've been working on small things and getting the next projects ready. I've started cutting squares for a scrap quilt. My scraps pile is now big enough and diverse enough to start one and it would be nice to have a quilt to keep cosy. The plan is to have a mix of full squares and ones pieced from smaller strips, trying to keep colours close together. A bit like this one:

Project Boring Office Sewing has come on a few steps, with an Anna dress cut out and ready to go. There are also preliminary patterns for a few tops too.

I've been working on a design for the Burdastyle Crossover Blazer, which will end up being a very cool Desigual rip-off. Think green. Think confusing buttons.

I've just finished drafting a pattern for some leggings using this tutorial on One Little Minute and this one on So Sew Easy. They're yet to be toiled, but hopefully they'll end up okay as I've got a couple of designs to build with them. They're going to be cool.

The other big thing is The Stockholm Challenge.

This all started on a trip to Berlin at the end of January. A couple of hours before my flight home, with limited time, money and concentration I made a mad dash to Frau Tulpe for some speedy souvenirs. I came back with two, with a view to keeping one and passing one on to a friend.

This counts as proof, right?
 A thought came to make this more interesting: instead of simply handing something over, we could allocate the souvenir on a random draw, then make something with the offending item. We're both heading to a festival in Stockholm over Easter, so that's our deadline.

Secret Souveniers
I have have my plan, the pattern and the pieces cut out, now we just need to sew. Wish us luck.