Quick and summery dotted top

Did you guess which knit top was my first off the starting block? Well, it’s not an obvious choice, but I already had KnipMode July 2010 #4 (upper left corner, in purple) traced out so it was easy to just grab it and go.

The dotty cotton/lycra knit fabric was an add-on from Chawla’s to get the minimum order value while I was buying the flannel underlining for my wedding gown. I bought one metre of it for £3.85 so this was a ridiculously cheap blouse, even for high street standards!

There’s a slight change from the tech drawing though – there’s a CF (centre front) seam on the band that’s not noted. It means the band and facing are cut on the fold so there’s no understitching, but the trade-off is that you get that seam.

Something old…

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:

Patrones spring coat – hood and more…

On Saturday I went shopping for supplies with Johanna Lu while she was holidaying in town, yay! We hit up Goldhawk Road and MacColluch & Wallis so I was able to get the rest of the supplies I needed for the spring coat, as well as stock up on a few things I knew would be difficult to get online for the rest of the year, like quality interfacings (I knows it when I feels it, okay?). She had the forethought to bring a camera along shopping, so you’ll have to stalk her blog for the next few days to see us giddy in fabric mecca!

I was very disciplined on Goldhawk Road and only bought three fabrics (at the end of the list there) – grey corduroy, since I adore the cords at one particular shop there and I don’t think I’ll be able to go back before Fall, a red & white cotton poplin with stylised flowers that’s already earmarked for two projects, and my one impulse buy – a very cool lycra jersey with tons of overlapping stripes going every which way. Oh, and the lining for my Spring coat.

Speaking of that Patrones spring coat:

Pink flowered day dress

Thinking ahead towards summertime, I really like to wear casual day dresses around the moorings at weekends (and this year, during the week, too, I suppose). A few years ago my friend Jess bought me a really simple 70s day dress at a vintage shop, and I’ve worn that so much I realised I’d like a few more to fulfil the same function.

So for this day dress, I blended two similar dresses from the Feb 09 issue of KnipMode together into one! I took the top half of #15 (on the left) and the bottom of #18 (on the right) and joined them together at the waist seam to make a really comfortable, casual dress for lounging around the moorings.

The fabric is a really super soft cotton-lycra jersey from Totally Fabrics, but which has now, understandably, sold out (I looked a few days ago to see if I could buy more – it’s that good!). The neck and arm bands are just a bit of black lycra to give a bit of contrast to such a busy print.

Red JL Mini sewing machine bag

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).

Birthday sewing surprises

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.

Sewing Gift Guide

Christmas is coming up, and so I thought I’d offer a helping hand to all the friends, relatives, and significant others of the sewing obsessed looking for sewing gifts this holiday season. I’ve tried to roughly break this down into “beginners” and “everyone else”, but it helps if you can snoop around their sewing area first to have an idea of what they’ve already got before buying something off this list.

And if you’re reading this and are feeling truly overwhelmed, then:

  1. Print this page.
  2. Google for your nearest sewing or fabric store
  3. Give this page to a store clerk with a smile a “Can you help me please?” and let them show you what some of this stuff is…

For beginners

If you know someone who’s very new to sewing or is getting their first machine this Christmas, it’s a great idea to create a little bundle of all the necessary tools for someone just starting out. You can often find these pre-packaged at sewing shops, or to create your own for a new sewer, I’d recommend placing the following in a zippered pouch, box, or (if you yourself are a sewer) a sewn case:

  • Dedicated sewing scissors (write “fabric only” on the blades with a marker!)
  • Glass-headed pins (plastic-headed pins melt on contact with an iron!)
  • Clear ruler or hem gauge
  • A pack of standard sewing machine needles
  • A pack of hand sewing needles
  • A seam ripper
  • Spools of Sew All (polyester or cotton-coated polyester) thread in black and white (and also grey, beige, red, and navy if you’re feeling flush)
  • A tomato pin cushion

Addicted to sewing

This weekend James and I took a trip out to Oxford to celebrate our friend Dori’s birthday. While we were there, she showed me her newest pride a joy, a “Jones” vintage sewing machine that she’d just bought from a charity shop for £4!

It’s a real beauty, with a sturdy wooden case with folding arm and attached wooden base, nice solid steel construction, and a compartment full of random accessories. She was a bit disappointed to learn that it only does straight stitches (no zigzag), but I assured her that straight stitch machines usually do that one thing really, really well and that she still got a bargain.

Included with the machine was a variety of machine feet which I was able to identify, but the true mystery was this tool, which to my eyes really looks like its purpose must be to inject thread straight into a vein!!

Pucci playtime cowl neck top

This weekend I finally got a chance to properly play with my new toy and whip up a few knit tops to see what this baby could do!

First up was BurdaStyle’s Sadie top (with the added cowl neck) using some lovely Pucci-esque printed knit which you may remember from last Spring’s tunic top. I was really just keen to use up the stash fabric on something very quick and easy, and also in case something went horribly wrong on my first serger attempt and the whole thing became a wadder!

Luckily no such thing happened and I got a decent summer top after an hour or two…