You may remember that last Fall I helped a friend test a bunch of budget sewing machines for a major newspaper, and one of the machines was a tiny, red John Lewis Mini sewing machine. John Lewis is a chain of high quality department stores in the UK (and the only one which still maintains a haberdashery and fabric department) and this is one of their own branded machines, though it’s actually a Janome under the hood. If you had any doubts – when you order these off the John Lewis website, it comes shipped directly from Janome UK!
Anyway I didn’t have much need for a tiny, portable machine back in October, but happily James’s parents thought I might like to do a bit of sewing in hospital and gave me this for my birthday!
As I knew before, it’s definitely got its limitations, but as a second, portable machine, it should do nicely for me. It is really tiny, and very lightweight – the instruction manual for it is printed on bigger paper than the machine itself, and even I can lift it with one arm! It doesn’t have any accessories, or a light, for that matter, but it sews well, and through denim, too, being a sturdy mechanical Janome.
Sunday afternoon was Lesson Two for my beginning sewing ladies, following along from the first lesson a few weeks ago when they learned how to operate a sewing machine and make a shopping bag.
At the end of the last lesson, Holly, Ness, and Veda were all begging to learn how to make a skirt, so how could I refuse? I decided they should follow in my footsteps and learn with New Look 6843, which was one of the VERY first patterns I ever made (then remade over and over again with a few variations!).
They picked out their own fabric and zippers, with Ness choosing a navy corduroy (so we got to talk about nap!), Holly choosing a beautiful navy wool suiting fabric, and Veda going for a bright and cheerful Liberty print.
Here’s Veda sewing on her own purple JL Mini machine (like my red one!)
We talked through measurements, pattern layouts, what the symbols on patterns mean, and also how you don’t have to follow the directions if you don’t want to (since I thought New Look’s order of construction made it awkward to check the fit of darts, and their zipper insertion made things more difficult than they had to be!).
Now that I’ve got my big winter coat sewing out of the way, I can turn my attentions to filling in a few gaps in my winter wardrobe. Sewing these things now means I can get another good 3-4 months of wear out of them before moving on to short sleeves and lighter jackets (no really, for the past few years we’ve had flurries and hard frosts in April or May).
So I’ve gathered together the patterns I’d most like to sew along with fabrics I’ve got in my stash that would help fill my wardrobe voids…
Starting at the top of this collage, we’ve got:
I’m so enamoured with my new tiny red sewing machine that I decided to use my time at the moorings crafty night on Monday to sew up a travelling case for it so I didn’t have to lug the box and styrofoam everywhere. There’s something almost perverse in using a sewing machine to create its own case, though. It just feels a bit cannibalistic somehow…
Anyway, I drew up some plans based on its measurements, and did a few calculations:
And then when I got to my neighbour’s boat I plugged it in, chopped up some spare red corduroy, and had a nice carrying case for it by the end of the evening (in amongst the traditional crisp and cake eating, of course).
Are you a beginner looking to get your first sewing machine as a Christmas gift or do you know someone who’s in need of a budget starter sewing machine?
A month or so ago you may recall that I helped a friend test a bunch of sewing machines for an article in The Sunday Mirror newspaper, and now that it’s been published I can reveal our results!
Me-Made March has been in full swing for a month now, and as I stated in February, I’ve been playing along at home, but taking photos of what I wear every day is just completely infeasible for me, so I’ve just kept a record of what I’ve worn instead.
I did something similar a few years ago and it was really helpful in observing what I tended to wear throughout the week and which items I turned to most often. I can’t actually remember the last time I wore an outfit that didn’t contain at least one “me-made” item (not counting weekends, where I live in grotty, boat-DIY clothes), so this challenge isn’t really that challenging for me! It’s what I tend to wear anyway!
- Tues. Navy blue riding trousers & purple cashmere turtleneck (RTW)
- Wed. Taupe corduroy skirt & turquoise mohair sweater (layered over a RTW white long sleeved top) (so yes, I am wearing the exact same outfit as shown in my citizenship post, right down to the same tights and boots!)
- Thur. First Jalie jeans & plum and green lace Patrones top
- Fri. Foldover wool trousers (so warm!) & RTW black long sleeved top
- Sat. Two 40th birthday parties! Burda September cover dress
James and I are big fans of the fantastic and fantastically trashy HBO show “True Blood” so this Halloween we decided to dress up as Bon Temps’s psychic waitress Sookie Stackhouse and her 250 year old vampire boyfriend Bill Compton. James’s costume was considerably easier than mine (wear black, put on plastic fangs and fake blood, speak with Southern drawl), but thankfully mine didn’t involve too much effort this year either.
I wanted to recreate Sookie’s most recognisable outfit, the Merlotte’s bar uniform, which consists of black shorts, a tight white teeshirt with the green Merlotte’s logo, and a back bar apron.
As I’ve made clear before, I do not wear shorts. I own one pair that I bought when I was 18, and they don’t get worn outside the moorings. Whatever shorts I made here would be a one-time only garment, so I wanted to make them as simple and easy as possible. Since the October edition of Burda magazine was handy, I traced off #111 and then modified them to make them as simple as possible:
Check back on Sunday around noon (London time) for wedding dress photos!
Around the end of August, I got an MMS (photo text message) from my bridesmaid Pip’s boyfriend Rob of a brown case next to an assorted pile of clothes with the message “Saw this and thought you might be interested.”
I replied with “Ooh what’s inside? Have you got a model no or year? And does it work, or Need Love?”
To which he said “No idea at the moment. It’s in the window of a charity shop, I’ll check it out on Tuesday.”
And I said “Ah I can’t really justify a 3rd machine! But if it’s a vintage Singer I’m interested (I’ll pass on any others, so don’t spend too much energy on it!)”
And since I never heard anything further about it, I completely forgot about our conversation (conveniently still saved in my phone though!) until they presented it to me as a wedding gift!
It weighs a TON, but it’s got a great hard case:
…which opens with an altered Citroen car key! ha!
Front, left, and back views:
The worst year of my life is finally over, hurrah! Celebrate!! Woo! I always try to live each year so that it’s better than the one before, and I don’t think I’ll have to spend much energy to make 2010 a success by that yardstick! Still, my cathartic sewing output hasn’t been too bad, especially considering I spent a full 8 weeks/2 months in a hospital bed!
(Click the composite photo to zoom in, and have a look in the Gallery to read more about any of them. Except the last few, which you’ll see in greater detail next week.)
Here’s 2007’s and 2008’s roundups, for comparison.
Let’s find some highlights in what was an otherwise incredibly sh*tty, sh*tty year….
I’ve been doing more sewing “on the inside” – this time I’ve made these curvy-seamed trousers (#12) from the May 09 KnipMode which should come as no surprise since you already know that I prepared them in advance as an activity pack.
I sewed most of these last Sunday, but took my time handsewing the invisible zipper, waistband, and hems, which I’ll explain later… Once again, apologies for the iPhone photos, but I’m planning on doing a nice & crisp DSLR photoshoot again once they and I!) am finished. But for now…