Sunday, 30 June 2013

I love smocking!

Summer is here - for this weekend at least! And the arrival of sunshine means light flowing skirts and summer dresses.  Yay!
The simplest way to make one of these is using smocking which I LOVE!
It adds a professional, finished look while creating a good fit.  When I wear something I've made and used smocking people are the most surprised that I made it - yet it's so simple!

So how to smock . . .

You need a sewing machine and some shearing elastic ( usually 70p or there shouts).  You simply want to wind the elastic onto your bobbin taking care not to stretch the elastic.  This must be done by hand and not using the machines bobbin winder. 

Now use a standard cotton thread for the needle and thread the machine as usual.  This thread is going to show so choose an appropriate colour for your garment.

Now start sewing - you want to start with your skirt or dress already hemmed at the top and your seams complete along both sides.  So you should have a tube of fabric that seems a bit big for you.

Start about half a cm from the top and keep sewing round.  As you meet the line of stitching where you began move slightly down so you continue your stitching about a cm below the last line.
You can keep this going for as long as is required - a skirts waist band would be shorter and a dress would need a longer stretch of smocking.

  This should create a gathered effect as seen in the skirt I posted a photo of.
I LOVE the effect of it and think it is just so simple to learn and make.

So get practicing and in the week I'll post measurements and a full how to guide of a cute smocked summer dress - perfect for little ones and adults alike.

Who knows maybe the sun will last that long for all you UK readers :-)

Till next time - happy sewing!

Friday, 28 June 2013

Clearing that clutter

This week I've been going through all my fabric and can't believe how many half finished projects I've got on the go.
I've just set up a new sewing room for myself and somehow all these half projects are letting it down a little.
I love making things! I love the buzz of new ideas and I love the fun of wearing, using or giving something I've finished.  Somehow connecting those two doesn't always work for me.  Anyone else have that problem?
I'm trying to figure out what it is that makes some people really good at completing everything they start.  Maybe it's patience or being able to look beyond the immediate level of work in front of you and see the finished goal - I'm not sure but whatever 'it' is I need to work on 'it'!
I think for me I get carried away with the excitement of a new idea and quickly the last project becomes old and slightly less interesting.
So I'm setting a goal for myself - dig out all my half finished bits and bobs and actually complete them.  Then maybe instigate a one project at a time rule for myself. 
I'm going to give it a shot in the hope that my sense of achievement will increase as well as generally enjoying my new sewing room ten times more.
I'll let you know how it goes!

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Why blog ? ? ?

So I finally decided to start writing a blog - welcome!  Many people have said to me about starting to write down and share some of the things I make, patterns and ideas but I guess I just never got round to it even though my love of journaling should have made blogging an obvious choice!

Even though I journal regularly I haven’t sat down to write and share my thoughts with others since doing newsletters when I was in South Africa.  Every week (or thereabouts) I used to take some time to sit down, reflect on how things were going and write it – sharing highs, lows and general thoughts I was having.  Even though the newsletters were meant to be for other people to keep them updated it became a time I valued for myself.  Doing those letters gave me the opportunity to take some me time and really process my experiences.

So as I’m sitting down thinking about what this blog will look like I think that is my conclusion.  I want to share my love of sewing and crafting with other people, hopefully giving them inspiration to go and do their own thing but at the same time I want to use this to prompt me to reflect on what I’m doing and brainstorm ideas for future projects/direction.

I recently read a blog talking about the expense of sewing and making your own clothes.  The costs of fabric alone (especially if you try to source fair-trade) can make you question whether it is really worth sitting down to make your own clothes.  With high street giants offering ever discounted clothing and turnover in stores speeding up so that choice seems unending how can home sewing compete? 

Personally I think the pleasure of making your own clothes outweighs whether or not it costs more but having lived on a tight budget for quite a while reality dictated that it wasn't possible to disregard cost and this is the case for most people.  And so began my charity shop delving!

I love nothing more than creating things from curtains, fabric and clothing found from happy hours wandering round charity shops.  Combine that with buying people’s left over fabrics on ebay that would otherwise be thrown away or left in cupboards for years and I find that I actually have quite a stash of unusual and interesting material. Doing things this way requires an extra dash of creativity to look beyond the dress with ripped seams or curtains and see something more but it adds an extra sense of achievement.  I love getting compliments on a skirt or dress and saying ‘oh thanks – it used to be a . . . ‘ Of course to make a skirt when the materials come to a total cost of 50p also competes quite nicely with any high street giants pricing!

So that is pretty much what this blog will be – a random mix of sewing, up-cycling, thoughts and ideas.  Hope you like it – I’ll post my first pattern in the week which should involve much less words and more pictures that this one - I promise! J