Saturday, 1 December 2012

Blue Period Part Two: More adventures in dying...

Months and months ago, I bought a lovely lacy knit jumper from H&M, I wore it ALL the time, if I was having a stress about what to wear, I always reached for it. Then, one fateful night I wore it out to see a friend in a (spectacular) play and we had drinks afterwards, drinks plural, lots of drinks, I was on the red wine, well until the red wine was on me, all down the front of my favourite cream jumper. If I hadn't been having so much fun, I probably would have cried. The next day I tried a bunch of stain removal tricks and then I put it through the machine but there was still a trace of that naughty stain. Boohoo.

Not sure how visible the stain is here but trust me, it's yuck.

Now, before I ventured into sewing and crafts I would've mourned the loss of my top and/or just bought another one. Ok, so I did just buy another one (have I mentioned how much I love this top yet?) but I didn't have to say goodbye to the old one either. I figured if I dyed it a darker colour, the stain would be hidden and I'd have a whole new wardrobe option. Hurray. So what colour do you think I dyed it friends?.. Yep BLUE!

I used Dylon Navy Blue dye but because the compostion of the jumper is 50% wool and 50% polyester I knew it wouldn't come out navy, but that's fine. I really love the shade it turned out, it's a bit different and now I have more blue in my wardrobe. Woop!

Not a huge project but I love how it turned out so I thought I'd share...

Alice x

Blue Period Part One: Long overdue Pendrell Blouse.

It has become increasingly clear that I am obsessed with the colour blue. I own 9 blue dresses, 2 blue skirts and 2 pairs of blue shoes, I even have some blue undies, oh and a pair of navy blue trousers! See; obsessed. So I'm sure, now you know this, it will be no surprise to learn I have a number of blue projects to share with you, some finished, some still in the planning stage...

So, what's first? Did anyone guess what garment I shared a sneak peak of? Those of you who guessed it was a Pendrell Blouse from the ever brilliant Sewaholic, were right.

I bought this fabric AGES ago during a trip to Goldhawk Road (looking back over that post I realised this is the only fabric I've  used from that trip back in March, clearly I am a hoarder) and I finished this blouse a good few months ago, I just didn't get it together to take pictures, oops.

I did my first pattern alteration on this baby, nothing major, I just took the hips in a little as I'm not quite as pear shaped as the Sewaholic measurements.. All the same I was pretty terrified to cut bits off my (traced) pattern, I'm a wuss, I know. I'm really pleased with how the fit turned out, there's enough room in the hips for wearing trousers underneath but it doesn't flare out in a hip size increasing manner.

I chose to make view B which features double ruffles on the shoulders but I left off the inner ruffle that goes along the princess seams because when I made my muslin it just felt like too much was going on. I don't exactly have a small bosom so I have to be careful about adding too much to the shoulder/bust area. I think I made the right choice and the single ruffle sort of cap sleeves are super cute.

So what did I learn.....

Lessons learnt making the Pendrell Blouse.

How to adjust hip width: unsuprisingly I used a tutorial to do this, in fact I followed the entire sewalong, hurray for sewalongs.

Princess Seams: I had no idea what princess seams were before this blouse, I did find them a bit difficult, it was definitely a square peg, round hole moment for my brain, but I'm glad I persevered as they're super flattering.

Uuuuuummmm.....: I can't remember what else, it was so long ago now but I'm sure there's more...

I'm really proud of this blouse, it's the most worn of all my makes, it fits nicely into my everyday wardrobe and (when the weather warms up) I'll be wearing it lots more.

I am LOVING this pattern and I have a whole rainbow of them planned in my brain, but I think I will definitely be making one in a similar satiny cream fabric with the pleated drape sleeves featured in View C.

Hope you're all having a fabulous weekend.

Alice x

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Sometimes I'm organised....but not often!

The lovely Rachel from Pointless Pretty Things, posted this great tutorial for a letter organiser and I soon as I saw it I knew I wanted one, and with all the engagement cards we've been receiving we need one as well!

I didn't have any pretty paper to hand so I made my own with some flower stamps and paint.

Hurray for pretty flowers.

Then I covered the cereal box cardboard in my new pretty paper and assembled my organiser. It didn't cost me a penny, I had all the supplies already and it makes our hallway look a little bit lovelier!

Thanks Rachel

P.S. I know that this project wasn't from my list of allowed projects but I have ZERO money so I can't buy some much needed supplies to finish them off...see, I am not an organised human! Hehe!

Alice x

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Something pretty special happened...

his mum, my dad, me, him, my mum, his dad. 
On Sunday 21st October 2012, my incredible boyfriend proposed to me outside Shakespeare's Globe Theatre on the south bank of the River Thames. I don't think I actually said yes, I was too shocked, but had I been able to speak I would have done, it's all a bit of a blur really, a wonderfully happy blur.
The surprise didn't stop there though, with the promise of champagne my new fiancee led me to The Swan bar where we were greeted by a wall of cheers from all our family and friends who had been waiting with baited breath to celebrate our engagement with us. It was the most overwhelmingly special day. Chris is the best person I know and I can't wait to be married to him. And now, because I'm feeling super loved up and mushy, here are some more pictures of us...

Cheeky trip to Paris

The train gave us free ice lollies, it was awesome.

Dressed as cats for our friend Kat's birthday!

Friday, 19 October 2012

Thoughts on Inspiration and Productivity.

I am a planner and a list maker, the trouble is I'm not so good at ticking things off those lists. I find this problem is even worse when it comes to craft projects. I have endless lists of clothes I want to make and crafty things to make for our home, and I think part of the problem is the huge amounts of inspiration that is available out here on the internet, in blogland. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining about all you wonderful, inspiring, creative lovelies, I think you're great, but the wealth of sewalongs and challenges and inspiring makes can be pretty overwhelming sometimes. I imagine for some, super organised people, this wealth of inspiration is an incredible thing, but I am not organised, I am a scatter brain and, sometimes, downright lazy!

So, what is the solution to my never ending lists and projects that never end? Firstly I'm going to have two lists, sounds crazy I know, how can more lists help? Well, one will be for all my ideas and will probably go on growing forever and ever. The other will be a few projects I must complete before I can start ANYTHING else, well anything crafty that is! This is my current 'shortlist':

1. Christmas quilts
2. A small art project to hang in our bedroom (I've already started this and will be posting about it soon)
3. A Christmas gift for my sister, which will probably be a quilt, I am really enjoying making my Mum's quilt at the moment.

Finally, just to prove I haven't been completely un-productive over the last few months, here's a sneak peak of something I made quite a while ago but STILL haven't managed to photograph properly!

Can you guess what it is?
How do you keep on top of all your projects and ideas?

Alice x

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Quilts By Christmas.

Thanks to Elise for the great logo.

I'm joining another sewalong/sewing challenge. I found being part of Karen's Pyjama Party such a great motivator and I'm hoping Elise's Quilts By Christmas Challenge will do the same. Elise's Blog is choc full of inspiration, I constantly marvel at how productive she is and when I saw this beautiful quilt I knew I wanted to make one myself and when Elise posted a brilliant tutorial I knew that I could make one myself! I now have plans for two quilts; one for our bedroom and one for my Mum for Christmas. If I get those finished before December I will also make one for my sister but I don't want to bite off more than I can chew, I've never made a quilt before! I made digital plans for my quilts because I don't have the space to lay out the real pattern pieces and get a nice random pattern. These are my proposed quilts. 

This one is for our bedroom, the representations of the fabrics I'm using are pretty crude but this will be so helpful when I'm putting it all together.

This one is for my mum. I've got all the fabrics for this one chosen and I've started cutting the patterned fabrics (I'm waiting for the block colours to arrive in the post) and I'm really excited to start putting it all together. 

Have you started any crafts for Christmas yet?

Alice x

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Hello. Do You Like My New Look?

Hi friends. It has been a long ol' time since I last posted round these parts. Let me start by saying a long overdue and a huge THANK YOU for all the lovely comments on my latest creation, each one meant so much to me and made me giggle with girlish glee. I am so pleased you liked it!

I've had something of a reshuffle over here. My old blog design was really thrown together just so I could get it out there so yesterday I spent pretty much all day some time designing a new blog banner (I used GIMP if you're interested). My chap very kindly drew me the logo (he's talented like that), because when we were thinking of blog names, I liked 'The Pin and Thimble' best because it sounded like a lovely old country pub, I love old country pubs. Hence the pub sign inspired logo. Apart from the banner, I decided to keep things simple and fresh and let the posts speak for themselves...hope you like it.

I'll be back soon to show you something I finished ages ago but haven't had time to photograph. For now here are just a few instagram snippets from my summer (you can follow me @alice_fearn)

1. An impromptu dinner date with my chap at one of our favourite restaurants.
2. Chap looking especially dashing...
3. I loved the clangers growing up so this book display made me super happy.
4. I'm not a sports fan but London was super cool during the Olympics.
5. Trying out the cupcakes at a new local place: Chocolate and Orange = YUM.
6. This is my cat Lily, she is old and she smells but I love her. Also she lives with my mum.
7. Summer skies are beautiful.
8. I lived in these shoes all summer.
9. Again, not a sports fan, but I couldn't miss seeing the Olympic Torch!

It's been a pretty great summer and I have more pics to share but I'll save them for another time. My best friend is moving in with me and Chap today so I'm off to help with the unpacking and then drink wine and eat pizza. Have a great weekend lovelies.

Alice x

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Finished Tie Dye Picnic Skirt

Hi friends. Here is the finished product from my adventures in tie dye: A Picnic Blanket skirt made using this excellent tutorial from Tilly.

I really enjoyed making this skirt, the tutorial instructions were super clear and easy to follow, and the skirt itself is pretty simple to make, very satisfying for a beginner like me.
I used my tie dyed fabric for the body of the skirt and some more of that cheapy white 'cotton' for the waistband. Originally I wanted to use bright turquoise buttons, but as the grey colour turned out so pale I went with some cute baby blue buttons instead.

Because the material is a little bit too see through I decided to make a slip for this skirt.I used this fab post from Tasia and whipped one up in just under 2 hours.

Almost exactly as this picture was taken someone came out of our building (the pictures were taken in our block car park) pretty embarrassing but hilarious too. 
I made the slip out of the same fabric as the skirt (minus the dye) and added a pretty grey lace trim which you can see better in this picture:

I love this slip, it's so fun to be wearing a cheeky bit of lace under a fairly everyday outfit. I'll definitely be making more of these to go under other skirts! 

So.. what did I learn whilst making these garments?

Lessons Learnt on The Tie Dye Picnic Skirt:

1. I need more practice and patience when it comes to sewing on top of gathers: on both this skirt and my crescent skirt, I struggled with getting the waistbands sewn straight, what with all the gathers I had to sew through, the waistband on this skirt is a little wonky as a result but a little practice should fix it for next time.

2.How to make buttonholes: I love the buttonhole foot on my machine, it's so clever. It took me quite a few practice goes (and a little swearing, I can't lie)  to work it all out but it was so worth it. Hurray for buttonholes!

3.Polyester hates dye: ok, so I kind of knew this already but not to what extent, although I do love how they fabric turned out, I was pretty surprised at just how much the colour didn't take to the fabric.

4. Dye garments after you've sewn it up: I cut out my three skirt pieces first and then tied each one separately, this means the stripes don't really match up at the front, never mind, I know for next time!

I can see more of these skirts in my future, they are so easy to make and so cute. Thank you so much to Tilly for sharing this excellent skirt pattern, and for free, so very generous!

Alice x

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Adventures in Tie Dye

Phew, it's been a while. I'd love to say that it's because I've been super busy doing all manner of exciting things, but that would be a lie. I just haven't been feeling the creative vibe these past few weeks so have had nothing to blog about! This week, however, I feel I've got my mojo back and have been making fun crafty plans and getting stuck in. For my first project, I've been playing with tie dye. My only experiences with tie dye is from summer camps, where we turned all our white clothes psychedelic! Whilst that was a LOT of fun when I was 9, I've gone for something a little more muted this time. I wanted big white and grey stripes (you know I love my monochrome) so I gathered my supplies...

I used a cheapo white cotton, Dylon hand dye in Antique Grey and loads of rubber bands. Tying up the fabric took a ridiculously long time, probably because my stripes were almost 3 inches wide!

All tied up and ready to go!

After what seemed like an eternity I was ready to dye. I mixed up my dye, per the instructions, and plunged the fabric in. i gave it a good stir and then left it to work for an hour (giving it the occasional prod in between bouts of washing up, living the dream y'all). Now I had the sneaking suspicion that this 'cotton' had some kind of polyester content, it was only £2 a metre after all, but I now suspect that polyester is the bulk of it's content. The dye did not take well. This dye is meant to come out as a mid to dark grey, it did not.

See, definitely pale or light grey. But you know what? I kinda like it, I think it turned out pretty cool. Now all that needs to be done is to sew it up into it's intended garment.
I've starting doing some sketches of possible garments using the croquis that came with a Simplicity Pattern Runway pattern I bought recently (more on that another time). It is so fun, I'm going to try and do it for all my projects. Here's the lady I drew for this project:

I'll be posting the finished skirt as soon as it's all sewn up and we can see how closely it matches the picture!!

Hope you're having a lovely weekend.

Alice x

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Finished Crescent (wearable) Muslin.

It's finished!! Phew that took a while! I cut a size 8 but it's a bit too big, I can get my arm between me and the waistband quite comfortably! I think I'll make another wearable muslin, possibly in navy in a size 6 and, assuming that's not too small, I'l make yet another in my kingfisher fabric.

Apart from the roomyness, I'm very pleased with this make. I struggled with some of it at times but  persevered  and it's all turned out well.

I used a cheapo cotton (which I don't think is all natural, probably a poly blend) that was only £2 a metre. It was really easy to work with and I really like the colour. As with my Lonsdale dress, I'm documenting what I learn from each project (totally forgot to do that with my PJ's, oops) so her we go.

Lessons learnt making the Crescent Skirt.

1. Gathering: I really like the gathers on the skirt and I'm so pleased to have learnt this, relatively simple, technique. It's amazing what tugging on a few threads can do!

2. A new zip technique: I don't know if there's an official name for this technique but it terrified me at first. After a little patience and some trial and error, I got that zip installed and I was so proud.

3. When sewing is making you angry, walk away: As I mentioned, the zip took quite a but of patience. When I first read the sewalong posts I was baffled and cross about being baffled. So, I left it alone for a few days. I know if I hadn't I would have ended up making, potentially un-fixable, mistakes. After that I took it super slowly, stopping for a break every time my brain was finding it all a bit too much. I really felt like I'd achieved something when it was finished.

My proudest sewing moment to date!

4. Using bias binding on the hem might not always be best...I think in this case it made the hem too heavy so it doesn't hang perfectly. Next time I'll try ribbon or bias binding that's ironed out to be single fold. I do like the way the contrast of the black binding looks though!

5. Facings: I had no idea what a facing was until I made this skirt. Now I do. Score.

I'm a big fan of this pattern. I think the waistband is really flattering (probably even more so when it's the right size!!), the pockets are really handy and the fullness on the skirt is lovely and girly. Plus, it's classed as an intermediate pattern so I feel VERY smug that I, a proper beginner, managed to finish it, although I should mention there is no way I'd have done it without Tasia's fabulous sewalong. Thanks Tasia.

Cheerio for now. Alice x

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Party Time...

Here it is; time for the big reveal and more importantly time to talk about boys, get makeovers and eat chocolate. This is a pyjama party right?

I really enjoyed making these PJs. They were so simple but so satisfying and I am super happy with how they've turned out!

I added a couple of embellishments, a bow at the front of the waistband and some shiny ribbon trim at the bottom of each leg. I think it makes them a little bit fancy and you always wear your fancy clothes to a party, am I right?

Bows make everything so pretty.
I was a little concerned I'd cut them out a size too big, especially after I held them up (pre-waistband) next to a pair of my ready to wear PJ's and my pair seriously dwarfed those from Primark! Once the waistband was done they looked a little more my size but I think, now that I'm wearing them, I could have cut out a size smaller and still been very comfy. Speaking of comfort, these jim-jams are so comfy. The fabric is slightly fluffier on one side so I made that the inside and, oh, it's like a big cuddle.

Now, onto component number two of pyjama party participation...what is my bed time reading?

I'm still working my way through 'A Suitable Boy', by Vikram Seth. At times I will admit that it feels like I'm wading through treacle in some parts of this book, but in others it's a breeze and I can't read it fast enough. The review on the front of the book says "make time for will keep you company for the rest of your life"  and I'm pleased I have done just that. I still have 500 or so pages to go but having read over 900 already that doesn't seem so many, I will be sad when it is over but I'm sure I will think of it often in times to come.

Thank you so much to Karen for hosting this brilliant sew-along. Her posts were really clear and easy to follow and filled with her charm and wit. I laughed a lot while sewing along with her. It was so much fun.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Karen's Awesome Pyjama Party

Wahoo, I'm joining my first sewalong. The lovely Karen of Did You Make That is hosting her first sewalong and I am so excited to be joining in.

This morning I was out the door like a shot to buy the pattern (there was a pattern sale on at my local shop so I got it for a mere £2) and some fabric. I knew I wanted some plaid brushed cotton, I already have 3 pairs of PJ bottoms in this fabric and I love them.

Now, as I say, I love these 'jamas but I'm sure you'll agree they're not in very feminine colours, so my other fabric rule was girly colours. Look what my other local fabric shop had in store for me:

The picture doesn't show the pinks and purples in the fabric very well but I promise they are there! There was also an exclusively pink plaid available but I don't think my manly PJ collection is quite ready for that yet! 

Is anyone else joining in? I'm so pleased to have found a sewing community event that I feel my levels of ability can cope with and the deadline of 28th April feels attainable.

In other sewing news: I've been working on some muslins for both the Salme Kimono Top and a Sewaholic Crescent Skirt. The Kimono top is pretty much finished short of fixing an upside down cuff but the skirt is proving pretty taxing, well it is an intermediate pattern. It was going well and I was tearing through Tasia's great sewalong posts but I've hit a snag at the zip insertion, I just can't wrap my head around it at all. I'm going to take a few days away from it and try again with fresh eyes/brain! Although I originally intended to sew this skirt up in grey denim I haven't had any luck finding the right fabric and today in the fabric shop I  saw this beautiful cotton poplin and I just knew it was desperate to become a Crescent Skirt. I kindly bought it home and promised that one day I would fulfill  all it's skirty dreams.

Isn't it lovely? I just love the bird (I think they look most like kingfishers) and bow print and it is grey so I haven't veered too far away from my plan.

What a nice Kingfisher he seems. I shall call him Kenny. 

Alice x

Sunday, 1 April 2012

The 'Spring in my Step' Lonsdale Dress

I MADE A DRESS, like, a whole dress all by myself! Hurray for me! It only took, oh, about a month and a half, but, I did it. 

I am so very proud of this dress. That's not to say that it is anywhere near perfect, there are plenty of things that could do with being fixed, like the waistband, my mortal enemy, is not straight. The bodice fit is a bit off, if I make this pattern again I will probably shorten it. The hem is a bit of a mess, It doesn't hang quite right, I still need to master folding and pinning a curve. However, none of these things bother me too much because this is the first real pattern I've ever sewn and it is definitely wearable. Yay! 

Sarai of Colette Patterns fame wrote a great post about documenting the things you learn with each sewing project, not to mention the finished slip project featured in the post is just too gorgeous for words. I shall take a leaf out of her book. As a beginner I hope this will help me to remember the things I have learnt and show, over time, how much I am learning and improving (I hope!!) So here goes:

Lessons Learnt on the Lonsdale.

1. How to cut out a pattern: seems obvious? Not to me it didn't, I mainly used Tasia's great post on cutting fabric from the Pendrell Sew-Along, it was super helpful. I had no idea what a grain line was, never mind how to utilise it! 

2. Keep the iron on low when working with synthetic fabric: ah, lessons learnt the hard way...melted lining was a low point but at least I learnt something from it!

3. Markings and notches are there for a reason: having sewn the wrong edges of my bodice pieces together I realise how important it is to make notches and pattern markings clear and to take the time to match them up properly.

4. The seam ripper is my friend: fast becoming my best friend. I am a beginner, I will make mistakes, probably quite a few of them. Without my friendly seam ripper I can't fix those mistakes. All hail the seam ripper. 

5. How to sew french seams: I love french seams, I don't have a serger and i don't really like using zig zag stitches for finishing seam allowances, french seams are so lovely and neat and, where appropriate, I will be using them as much as I can.

6. How to hand pick zip: this one is a work in progress, I originally hand picked the zip for this dress but it came out bumpy and rubbish so I ripped it out and tried something else.

7. How to use the zip foot on my machine: the zip insertion in my muslin of this dress was a big ol' mess, because I used the regular foot not the zip foot, I didn't know such a thing existed! Looking in my machine's manual I found the instructions for the zip foot, gave it a go and hey presto a much neater zip. It's not perfect but it's an improvement. 

It's not perfect, but it's mine!
8. How to slip stitch: I slip stitched the inner waist band and the hem (although the hem could do with a bit of a re-work). It's a nifty little stitch that one.

Phew, lots of things learnt there, probably a few more I've already forgotten! 

I think my favourite part of the dress is the pockets, I'm really pleased with how they turned out and I think they're a great design feature.

Love them pockets.

I've named it the 'Spring in my Step' dress because spring has well and truly sprung around these parts and the joy of finishing this dress had made me all bouncy!

Hurray for spring
I hope there are lots of things putting a spring in your step. I'm off to do some spring cleaning!

Alice x