Knitting and Stitching Show

The weekend before last I went to the Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace, with my sister. We kind of decided to go on a bit of a whim – well quite last minute, which is unusual for us as I am quite lazy and like to not have plans on the weekend and my sister has 2 children, so spontaneously going out for the day alone isn’t always possible!

Shamefully although I live in Finsbury Park and Alexandra Palace is a 10-minute train ride away or a 20-minute bus ride away, I’d never been before! I had no idea you can see canary wharf from the top of that hill! It wasn’t a super clear day when we arrived, but you could still make out the gherkin, the shard and canary wharf!

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We’d been to another Knitting and Stitching show a couple of years ago at Olympia and I didn’t really realise Alexandra Palace would be even bigger! Even though we arrived at 11 (with the doors opening at 10), the place was already absolutely heaving! I found it a bit much to be honest and I’m not sure I’d go again. It was really difficult to get anywhere near any of the fabric stalls (of which there weren’t a huge number aimed at dress-making as opposed to quilting) and so I ended up not coming away with much even though I’d gone in with quite a long shopping list. I had wanted to get some fabric to finally make my Colette Cooper Bag (which I’ve been meaning to make for about a year!) and some fabric to make a Colette Albion Coat which will basically be a rip off of this coat I pinned ages ago:

Seasaltcornwall coatI think I’ll actually order fabric for both these makes online, though, as I’m still a relative noob with knowing what kind of fabric is what so it seems like I’m more likely to get the right kind of fabric if I can choose it knowing what it is and what it’s properties are according to a website. Any particular favourites for heavy weight bag fabric or waterproof coat fabric?

The one thing I did manage to buy was some new lining fabric for a coat refashion I’m now part-way through – I’m re-making the slightly horrible coat I bought from the Fara Workshop into something more wearable – and less holey!

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Ooh, mustard yellow – something new and different for me! It was from Doughty’s and I might check out their website as this cotton was only £4 per metre but it softer than you usually get for that price.

I also got some matching thread and a thread snipper:

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You can see the lining (and threads) with a swatch of the coat fabric – I think it’s going to look fab!

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The only other thing I managed to get was some wool with which to knit The Boyfriend a tank top:

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This was some end of line wool which was only £2 per ball and it’s really nice quality – maybe a little itchy, but since it’s a tank top, it wont really touch skin that much! I was just going to get 5 balls – as that’s how many was in each little pack – but the man convinced me to get an extra one just in case – I’d never find it again. Do you know of any good tank top patterns? I suspect I’ll have at least one ball left, so I’ll have to think of something else to do with it. Maybe a baby jumper for one of the kiddies in my life?

I did discover a couple of new-to-me pattern companies, so although I didn’t buy that much I did do some research for future possible makes! I’d not come across MIY Collection before – Wendy Ward, who designs the patterns, wrote The Beginner’s Guide to Dressmaking so you may have heard of her from that. I don’t think I’m in love with any of the patterns, but her focus on teaching absolute beginners to sew has got to be a good thing – the more the merrier!

I also discovered Sew Me Something, who are based in Stratford Upon Avon. They are a workshop and pattern company with a (I assume) growing number of patterns, all named after Shakespeare’s heroines. I quite like the Kate Dress and the Imogen Top and it’s a stroke of genius to name their Portia Trousers after one of the ‘breeches roles‘. I’m a bit annoyed with them, though, because in my vague daydreams I imagined myself one day making patterns (which I probably will never do, but you have to consider these things anyway!) and I thought I would name them after Shakespeare’s characters because I love Shakespeare. But they’re beaten me to it so it would look like I was copying….in this mythical future where I have the skills to pattern-draft!

One of the greatest things I discovered was Loopy Mango. It’s a US based company that makes knitting kits with GIANT WOOL and GIANT NEEDLES, and super cute branding, in my opinion.

Loopy Mango blanket(image source)

I love the fluoro pink!

Loopy Mango needles(image source)

Did you go to the Knitting and Stitching Show? Did you buy lots of things or, like me, get overwhelmed by the number of people and the sheer number of stalls? Did you make any new discoveries?

Me Made May 2015

Last year was my first year taking part in Me Made May (you can see my weekly round-up posts here: 1, 2, 3, 4) as it was the firs time since I started making my own clothes 2 years ago that I felt I had enough to make a pledge. I’m not sure I’ve massively added to my wardrobe since then as I had a big chunk of last year without really making much. I think I could improve on my pledge from last year, so here it is:

“I, Amelia, of sewingmachinations.wordpress.com pledge to wear at least one item of me-made clothing on at least 5 days of each week.”

I’m just going to document my progress on Instagram, so you can follow me there if you’re interested in how I get on. I’ll do a round-up post here at the end of the month.

I have the next week off work and am planning a real sewing binge, so hopefully I’ll add some basics that I really need. I’m planning to make a couple of pencil skirts, probably using the pattern from the second Great British Sewing Bee Book:

P1020609I’m also going to try sewing with knits for the first time – and I’m predicting I’ll discover I had no reason to be so scared! I’ve downloaded a couple of the free patterns available from the indies, The Hemlock Tee from Grainline Studio

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAand the Plantain Tee from Deer and Doe:

Plantain TeeI’ve also had Tilly and the Buttons’ Coco pattern in my stash for a while, so hopefully I’ll manage to make that up.

Coco DressI’ve also got her Francoise Dress and have almost finished one version, with possible others to follow (though not for Me Made May!).

I’ve also got Colette Patterns’ Mabel skirt and Moneta Dress for when I’ve conquered knits – I’m thinking a couple of each would be really good wardrobe staples.

Mabel Skirt    Moneta Dress

I’m hoping to finish refashioning one or two of the things I have sitting on my refashion pile, especially the things I bought from the Fara Workshop.

I suspect I won’t get everything made in time for Me Made May! My eyes are bigger than my….sewing stomach (?). Definitely on my ‘very soon to make’ list is the amazing Ginger Jeans pattern from Closet Case Files. I have to add trousers/ jeans to my repertoire to have a really me made wardrobe as it is what I wear 90% of the time.

Ginger Jeans Pattern

I’m also planning to make a Holly jumpsuit or two – it seems like a good alternative to the Summer dress, especially given I cycle to work. I also have the Hazel pattern, to make some Summer dresses from, and I reckon I could pattern hack them and use the top of Hazel with the bottom of Holly.

Hazel Dress Holly Jumpsuit

Are you planning to join in with Me Made May? Are you panic-sewing in preparation?

Book: Colette Sewing Handbook

After making a couple of Colette Patterns (Violet Blouse and Laurel Dresses 1 & 2), I thought it might be nice to review the Colette Sewing Handbook. I know this book is now quite old, but it’s relatively new to me. I got this book for free via my old job in a bookshop – a perk I definitely miss! I didn’t get it for free to review here, though.

Colette Handbook 1The book is like several sewing books I have (it’s an addiction, what can I say?) in that it takes you from knowing absolutely nothing about sewing and teaches you all the basic techniques and equipment, through all the things you might need to know until you can make some clothes, and with some patterns included.

The tips pages include:

Tools and SuppliesColette Handbook 2Hand stitchesColette Handbook 3Editing for your style (like Coletterie’s series Wardrobe Architect)

Colette Handbook 4Choosing fabric
Colette Handbook 8The patterns included are in an envelope at the back of the book:

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Meringue Skirt – the book has some good tips for how to deal with scallops.

Colette Handbook 5Pastille Dress – there’s a whole mini chapter before this pattern on getting a perfect fit, including a sway back adjustment, which is something I always mean to do as I have a narrow back and curved posture.

Colette Handbook 7Truffle Dress

Colette Handbook 9Taffy blouse

Colette Handbook 10Licorice dress

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I think the only one of the included patterns which is even vaguely my style is the Pastille dress, which I’ll try to make one day, when I’ve made all the other patterns on my list…. Does anyone else have loads of patterns, from books, and from companies, which you want to make, but never have the time to, and yet you keep buying more? And more fabric. Always more fabric! Has anyone made any of the patterns from this book?

Anyhoos, the things I like about this book are that it’s spiral bound – this might seem silly, but I’ve made a couple of aprons from the first GBSB book and trying to keep a non-spiral bound book open while trying to read the instructions is frankly a pain in the arse, so spirals are good. I also have found the instructions on the Colette patterns I’ve made really clear to understand, so I have high hopes for the fitting tips being useful. Do you have this book? What do you think? Do you have any other favourite sewing books? The new Great British Sewing Bee book is definitely on my list!

Colette Laurel 2

When I wrote my post about my first Laurel, I mentioned that it wasn’t the only one I’ve made. I made my second one pretty quickly after the first one. I made this one from the same fabric as my Mimi Blouse, because there was quite a long length of it.

Colette-Laurel-brown-pattern-1I love this fabric – not sure I mentioned that before?!

The only additional change I made was to lower the bust darts by 1 inch. You can see the pulling at my armpits in the above photo – I definitely need to alter the armscye to give myself more room – any tips on how to do that?

Colette-Laurel-brown-pattern-2I’ve realised, looking at these photos that the fabric is slightly see-through – and I was wearing black underwear! Oops! Oh well…

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I didn’t bother about pattern matching the dress – as you can see above, on the back seam in particular. I did, however, pattern match the the pockets, as best I could – they didn’t match quite as well as I’d hoped, but from a distance, you can’t really see them. Colette-Laurel-brown-pattern-5I used a dark brown zip from my stash and some black bias binding, also from my stash, so this was a pretty cheap make. I also used french seams as the fabric frayed like a bitch.

Colette-Laurel-brown-pattern-6Colette-Laurel-brown-pattern-4I don’t really have much to say about this dress, as it’s pretty simple to construct and I talked about the changes I made in my previous post! All I can say is I love it! I’ve had several compliments from people whenever I wear it and I always delight in the moment where I can say ‘I made it myself’ – does anyone else secretly like those moments?

And I’ll leave you with this photo, with the odd expression!

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Blue and White Stripey Laurel Dress

I made my first Colette Laurel dress back in the Summer – I’m a bit behind with blogging my finished makes! I say this is my first because I have already made a second, and I have plans for more.

Stripey-Laurel-2I made the size zero dress, with short sleeves. This was made from some cheap polycotton which I got as a remnant from Rolls and Rems on Holloway Road. I think I paid about £6.99 and got probably 3 metres. The fabric is quite thin, so I decided to underline it with a sheet I had lying around. This does make it quite warm, which is great for the Winter, but a bit sucky for the Summer! This was my first time underlining and I found it pretty straight forward – just cut out everything twice and sew the inside and outside fabrics together around the edges, within the seam allowances, and then sew the doubled pieces together as normal.

I used all french seams, as I usually do these days – I do like a pretty inside!

(I should really have ironed this before I took pictures!)
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I did have to make one fitting change. As the pattern was drafted, I couldn’t get the sleeves over my arms. I’ve had this with other patterns, so I think I might have big arms compared to the rest of me! I tried reducing the seam allowances to 1cm but that wasn’t enough, I still couldn’t bend my arms. I had to redraft the sleeve pattern with an extra 2cm on each side, to give me some extra room. Has anyone else had this issue? On this or another pattern (btw, this isn’t the only pattern where I’ve had this happen!).

Stripey-Laurel-6I had a 12in invisible zip in my stash so I used that instead of the 22in one requested in the pattern. I used the tutorial on the Colette website to help me put this in – I always forget how to do invisible zips!

Check out my stripe matching! I’m definitely getting better at it!

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Stripe matched side seam – not quite as good as the back.

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Pretty much invisible pockets:

Stripey-Laurel-10You can almost see here that the pockets, which I didn’t underline are see through.

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There’s a bit of pulling around the arm area, as you can see here. I needed to lower the bust darts too on the second version. I think I need to give myself more room on the arm holes as well as in the sleeves, then the pulling would hopefully go away.  Stripey-Laurel-3But in short, I love this dress!

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