Posting was a bit light around here in September, but not intentionally so. Coming back from Argentina immediately into building work (which pretty much occupied every morning, most Fridays, and some evenings too) and being away every single weekend in September just left me flattened. A month on and I’m still exhausted, and frankly, trying to figure out if I’m ill, or if it’s diet-related, or just a really slow recovery from international competition.
So I must apologise to all the people out there who are waiting on emails from me – when I’m too tired to sit up, I don’t tend to open my laptop to write out proper replies, let along blog posts (this one has taken me about 4-5 sessions spread out over a week to write). But I did manage to get all the Sewing Indie Month posts together that I needed to, and I wanted to gather them together along with a bunch of other bits and pieces you may have missed if you’re not following me on Twitter or Instagram.
Imagine Gnats Wrap-style Bess top Tutorial
One of the few finished garments I managed to make in September was a fancy, wrap-style hack of the Imagine Gnats Bess top, which I wrote a full tutorial for, too.
I loved the shoulder detailing on the original pattern, but I thought the shoulder seaming looked reminiscent of kimonos, so I changed the front pattern piece to be a wrap-style instead.
But the fabrics in my stash that went together best ended up being a brocade skirt that my friend Pip gifted me after she lost weight, and a poly satin that (I think?) a neighbour gifted to me years ago, so this ended up being a refashion project, too!
Anyway, you can read more about it over at Imagine Gnats, and last week I also wrote an Activewear patterns roundup for Rachael, too. Definitely take a look at her shop while you’re over there – she’s a keen cyclist and has just taken delivery of a bunch of wicking lycra in some lovely colours (she’s US-based)!
Also for Sewing Indie Month, Maison Fleur interviewed me and asked a lot of interesting questions I’d not thought about before, which was nice! I may have also hinted about a few big things happening in January, which will also coincidentally start my 10th year of FehrTrade.com!
It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Seamwork magazine, having subscribed from the very first issue, made quite a few of their patterns, and written a bunch of articles for them, so I was literally dancing at my desk when the first episode of Seamwork Radio was released last week!
I am a big podcast listener, and this was one of the best-produced podcasts I’ve heard – definitely on the professional end of the scale, and IMHO, exactly what was missing in terms of sewing-related content.
Curve runner rolling ruler
In case you missed the Kickstarter campaign going round earlier this summer, the same people who make those great SA Curve rulers (whose width is exactly 1 or 1.5cm so you can easily add seam allowances onto patterns) refreshed and updated their Curve runner rolling ruler. This is a similar concept to a Japanese measuring wheel I got gifted several years ago (and that Claire detailed exactly how to order from Japan), but the Curve runner ones are obviously easier to get a hold of!
They’ve also got the benefit of coming in both 20cm or 30cm wheels – I opted for the 30cm one as my Japanese one is 20cm, and there are imperial versions with the measurement in inches, too. I must say that my measuring wheels are one of my most-used tools in my sewing room – they are unbelievably useful for measuring out edges of patterns, like necklines of knit tops in order to calculate a binding length, or the leg opening on panties to measure for elastic, or (my favourite) comparing the armscye length to the length of a sleeve cap and then removing all the freaking nonsense sleevecap ease! So the fact that this sort of tool is much more widely available is a definite bonus for sewists outside Japan. SA Curve sent me this one for review, but I can easily recommend it, and like their rulers, it’s made from a strong, clear plastic that’d be difficult to snap (unlike my Japanese wheel, which did snap, and I carefully superglued back together!).
New Spoonflower Sports Lycra
I’ve literally waited years for Spoonflower to release a tech lycra base with two way stretch. I mean, their Performance Piqué and Performance Knit base fabrics are nice, but they have zero vertical stretch which means you have to add length into any pattern that requires 2-way stretch. Which is nearly all activewear patterns!
So I was quite excited when they announced the new “sport lycra” base fabric with 2-way stretch, and I took advantage of their free swatch day to test it out. Months later, it arrived (seriously, what is with Spoonflower’s glacial international shipping??), and, well, it’s not great, but it’s better than the previous tech base fabrics.
The colour saturation and hand are both really nice, and I’d definitely class it as a “medium weight” lycra – not quite as beefy as Funkifabrics’s printed lycras, but certainly enough to sew into leggings.
But – as soon as the fabric is stretched, the white base shows through a lot. You would not want to stretch this too tight when you’re wearing it, so if you’re used to all your workout gear being “compression tight”, then this is a no-go. This was both surprising and disappointing to me, because I’ve been waiting so long to have a print-on-demand wicking base with stretch in both directions, and then it’s actually not as nice as Funkfabrics tech range (search for “Titan”), IMHO. So if Funkifabrics ever start offering crowdsourced or custom designs, we may well have the ultimate fabric!
And speaking of Funkifabrics, they’ve released some new activewear fabric out recently, too – a range of “thermo” fabrics with a brushed, fleece-like backing on two-way stretch lycra. It’s currently only in solid colours, but I got really excited about this one because a) it looks like it’d be perfect for winter outdoor exercising and b) from the photos it looks like it could be similar to my beloved Suziplex (which is RIP since the only mill producing it for Suzi Spandex burned down). I’ve ordered enough for a long sleeved running top to test out it’s breathability, plus a few swatches of the various colours, so I’ll report back as soon as I can!
The Fold Line
And finally, I wanted to big up The Fold Line, which is a new sewing social network (think Ravelry, but for sewing). They’ve done a great entering all the details of the various pattern companies out there (Fehr Trade included!), plus there are a bunch of interest groups, and a free pattern for signing up, and (most importantly for me) the owners have been super receptive to new feature requests and bugs as they’re reported, which is a good sign that they’re in it for the long haul. There are a handful of other sewing communities out there, but I think there’s still plenty of room out there for another, especially as this has a number of different features the others don’t have. And if you sign up, please add me as a friend!
As I said in the start of this post, I really feel like I’m battling exhaustion on a daily basis – whether it’s still recovery from Argentina combined with a series of nonstop weekends away, or a nutritional problem or deficiency, or something else entirely remains to be seen. I’ve got no shortage of magazines to share with you (including a new La Maison Victor we picked up at Eurotunnel Calais on our way back from Provence last weekend!), and I’ve got big things in the works for January, so a lot of my sewing output will need to remain secret for some time. But I’ve not neglected myself, either – this weekend I finally cut out a Great British Sewing Bee Drapey Dress in slate blue ponte, which I’ve been wanting to do since I made the first ever test version last August! Frankly, it feels good just to spend any time in my sewing room, even 10 minutes at a time, as it’s more than I’d been able to do in a long time!