First off I need to apologise for not blogging for almost two months! I think the best way to rectify this is with a little round up…
Since the UK went into (a seemingly indefinite) lockdown in December I feel like I haven’t really been doing much, certainly not on a day to day basis. Recounting to write it here has helped me to realise that I’m not actually being lazy, I’m doing plenty of stuff (admittedly, not always the stuff I should be doing!) but I guess what I’m really missing is the physicality of work (as well as the income – still no government support in sight for me…) I’m used to being exhausted from work, in a good way! The adrenaline is a buzz, it’s constantly creative, and I very much enjoy my time in the salon with my clients and colleagues. So, now I’m doing all the other things – and maybe even a few extra – but without actual work (and all the implications that come with it) it’s not surprising that I feel a little empty. At least now I can put my finger on what it is that’s making me feel slow: and with that recognition, maybe now I can have some power over it.
Sewing wise I’ve been quite productive I suppose, more so recently, but I’ll get to that. Instagram has still seen moderately regular posts from me so you may have seen some of these already…
The un-blogged dungarees!
When I was a kid I lived in my dungarees! I don’t suppose I’ve worn them since I was 9 or 10 years old. After making (and loving) my recent boiler suits, dungarees seemed like the next logical step so I redrafted the top of my boiler suit pattern into a bibbed top with shoulder straps. I meant to blog this process, and had most of it written before I realised that I had forgotten to take construction pictures of one of the most important steps! Still, I’ll be making another pair soon, so hopefully I won’t forget the photos next time! In the meantime, here are the original pair if you missed them…
(At last!) My ‘Executive Boiler Suit’!
I’d been dreaming of this for some time and was waiting for the right fabric to cross my path. I found this one on the Minerva Makers fabric call-out and knew right away it would be perfect. If you’re interested, you can read the report on my Minerva profile. The pattern is the same as my green boiler suit (the bottom half of KwikSew 3389 and the top half mashed with a hacked version of Burda 6931 (that you can see here). I made a couple more adjustments this time; switching the back patch pockets to welted pockets and I used a different technique to finish the raw edges of the facing.
The white shirt I’m wearing underneath it shall forever remain unblogged (as the plainest piece of sewing, ever!) – I just really needed something plain to wear with all the checks/ stripes/ patterns and prints that seem to have sneaked into my wardrobe! The technique for finishing the facing edges is really quite simple, and very effective. Usually, I would fuse the interfacing to the fabric and then finish the raw edge with my overlocker/ serger or, if I’m feeling fancy, I might bind the edge with bias tape. Either way, at some point when your garment is open, the seam finish will be visible – this method gives you a completely invisible seam finish, by hiding all the edges between the fabric and the interfacing. It goes like this…
Rather than fusing the interfacing to the facing fabric at the beginning, I sew the interfacing to the facing piece along (what would be) the raw edge; right side of the fabric against the smooth (not glued) side of the interfacing.
Then, trim the seams back (I use pinking shears)
and flip the interfacing over so that the glued side is against the wrong side of the fabric (where it should be!). Finger press it first to get a smooth edge, then secure the fusible interfacing in place with your iron (following manufacturers instructions, of course!)
for a finish that is so clean, it’s practically wasted on the inside!
I’ve only made one pair of joggers/sweatpants, aaaggeeees ago! I wear them whenever I have to (because they are the only ones I have) and they’re ok, but not really great: I made them from a nice thick warm jersey that I didn’t scrimp on, but that’s just the problem, the thicker jersey is less stretchy and also maybe a bit too warm, so they’re only really suitable in cooler weather. Immediately after making them I’d decided to make another pair, but then I got ‘pattern-fear’ – that I’d end up putting all my efforts into making them in the wrong style for me… then all the questions about ‘what style is for me..?’ came up, and after a while it all became too much to think about – it’s just joggers after all! Then (three years ago!) I was given the perfect fabric (thank you Claire! It only took three years and three lockdowns!) and I’ve finally made them! I’d got to the point where I knew I could procrastinate no longer, I just needed a pattern and, ironically, it was Claire who (inadvertently) gave me the nudge for that too; in a recent blog she was lamenting the slow disappearance of menswear patterns from the Ottobre magazines which made me take the two copies I have down from the shelf… lo and behold, a sweatpants pattern!
I’ve finished them and they’re great, not easy to photograph though, but they include my first ever double welt zip pocket! It may not be perfect, but I’m really happy with it! I’m sure there’ll be more photos soon.
Now that it is clear that we won’t be able to go back to work for at least another month I’m trying to introduce a bit of structure to my life… I’ve taken on some deadlines to try to keep me focussed. The first of which was a very nice surprise, and just the kind of push I needed, from Kate (of @timetosew) who contacted me on behalf of Isobel, @fibremood, to see if I was interested in hosting the English spoken #socialsewalong of the new Harold Men’s Shirt Pattern. Well, this was totally out of my comfort zone but an opportunity I didn’t want to pass up on (on-camera stuff was obviously where I needed to head with my new youtube channel and this seemed like a good way to ‘find my feet’ with it).
I thought I’d better have a little practise first so I lashed my phone to the mop handle, pointed a few desk lamps at myself and made a video, about how to sew a mask. Although there are a few (noticible) chunks taken out, it was filmed all in one take and also totally unrehearsed! It couldn’t have been more ‘off the cuff’ if I’d tried, honestly. You can’t quite see that while I may be wearing a button down shirt, I am also still in my pyjama bottoms! Regardless of the results, I was encouraged enough to post it online, take a look if you fancy it (Here!) and if you’d like to catch up with the Fibremood sewalong, you can see it on instagram here. The Harold shirt pattern is a great over-shirt, the instructions include a few techniques that I am less familiar with (some I stuck with, some I avoided!) and I made mine from this really lovely soft needlecord. I didn’t get to finish the shirt in the sewalong (it was only two hours!) so as I took my time finishing it up off-camera, I also added an embroidered inside pocket… but more on that in the next section…!
Recently I received an upgrade to the embroidery software provided by Pfaff as part of my ambassador program, and managed to turn a couple of my iPad drawings into embroidery designs. The heart pocket you’ve seen (above) is a favourite, I’ve also made a Queen (inspired by The Queens Gambit, and, well, it’s obvious, right?), a summer bag with my favourite ice-lollys on it, and my tap dance class logo…
I made some patches that decorated birthday cards too; they can be taken off and used elsewhere after… one for a friend who is a big Madonna fan (which I forgot to photograph before posting), and another for a friend turning 50!
Turning the drawings into embroideries is pretty easy with the software, I made another short youtube video showing how I do it (here). What I’d really like to learn is how to design using the actual software to draw, then I should have control over stitch directions and pattern etc – which I hope will enhance shading and texture on the designs… I have a Mac and there aren’t too many tutorials in that format, so it’s slow going but I promise to report on my experiences as I go along.
The current news is hinting that hairdressers might be able to return to work in early March. I sincerely hope that this is true. I wholeheartedly support the restrictions, adhere to them firmly and understand the importance of them but after the equivalent of a 50% pay cut over the last 12 months I look forward to the opportunity to earn again. So Feburary looks like it’ll be a lean month. But don’t let me go on about that again…
To keep me busy…
- I’ve just received a couple of new fabrics from Minerva which I’m really looking forward to using. A textured wool knit, which looks even nicer IRL than it did online, and some cork ‘fabric’ that I’m excited to experiment with.
- Also, I’m in the middle of unpicking a worn-out-favourite-pair-of-shorts to make a new pattern for a friend – It’s been slow going so far, but I feel a surge coming on!
- My 2nd pair of dungarees will be in progress soon, I’ve got some lovely navy wool for a ‘dressy’ pair that was gifted to me by another sewing friend (thank you Lainey xx)
- Unable to get into my usual ‘tap-hall’ until the restrictions ease, I’m searching for an alternative suitable space as I have another online tap class coming up in a few weeks…!
So with any luck, February will fly by! I hope that wherever you are you are staying safe, sane and solvent!
Notes to self:
- Keep experimenting with the embroidery software!
- Remember to take progress shots when making something for a blog post!
- Don’t be camera shy, get on youtube!
- Go easy on yourself, if you’re not doing much, it’s probably because there’s not much to do!
Great that you are back and doing stuff. I’ve been looking for a decent pattern for dungarees that doesn’t look like a clown costume. Meanwhile just ordered toshio kaneko’s book and lined up a friendly Japanese speaker who is into sewing. Sewing has kept me sane during the endless groundhog days that pass for normal life these days.
Hi Steve, sorry, I lost your message somehow! You’re going to love the book – even more with a good translation! … I got my copy ring-bound at the copy shop… a bit of a decadence, but worth it to get the book to lay flat as I work from it!
Glad you’re back. Missed you and your talent.
Aww thank you 🤗
I hope that this year is better for all of us.
Thank you Mary, yes, me too 🙏🏻
Glad to see the sewing is keeping you busy and nice to catch up. I hope things will improve enough to enable you to get back to work soon.
I loved everything about this post, from your gorgeous makes, your embroidery and your ways of dealing with the lockdown. Just marvellous!
Thank you so much Sue! Thankfully I’ve got MrA too – we’re keeping each other sane! X
Great post, Andrew. I think we are all doing more than we think but time gets all wierd without going out on the regular- work, exercise, the like.
Thanks Jodie, yes it’s not so easy exercising in this weather, but we’re getting a few nice bike rides in when we can!
So glad to see you back! This post has been a joy, especially the “Put It Away” sign! I love it, even though I know it’s impossible for me. I think the pandemic has made me messier than ever. No one ever comes over, so why clean up??? The boiler suit is brilliant. If I can wade through a big chunk of my stash, maybe there will be one in my future. Never can tell.
Thanks Duane. Haha, yes, my ‘inspirational message’ !! I don’t always stick to it myself! Looking forward to seeing your boiler suit! Take care 👍🏻🤗
Hurray! You’re back! I missed you.
That good old technique of “facing the facing” was a standard in printed patterns in the 1980s. Don’t know why it ever fell out of style. Nor the practice of leaving the top of a side-seam pocket open in trousers and skirts, instead of installing a zipper.
I love that it’s called facing the facing, sewing techniques have great names!