Saturday 26 September 2015

Rainbow sparkly jersey skirt!

A couple of months ago I went on a remnant bin raid at Rolls and Rems and picked up this:


It is RAINBOW SPARKLY JERSEY. I was so pleased with myself I bounced all the way home. This, I thought to myself, is what sewing is about. There's no rainbow sparkly jersey whatsoever in the shops right now, and if I wasn't learning how to sew I would be completely deprived of rainbows and sparkles. And even if the shops did have rainbow sparkly jersey clothes, they sure as hell weren't going to be £3.50. Here I was, sitting on this bus (no, DRIVING this bus from the top deck like a boss. Like a bus? Stop it, Jen), winning at life.

Then I got it home and realised I had absolutely no idea what I was going to do with a bit less than a metre of rainbow sparkly jersey. There wasn't enough of it to be a dress, it didn't hang in the right way to be a top, I knew I'd never wear a tiny technicolour jacket. So I draped the fabric around myself sadly a few times (newsflash: your blogger is an enormous dork), then put it at the bottom of my cupboard, possibly to be cried over another day.

Skip forward a little while. It was Tuesday night or Wednesday morning, depending on how your schedule works, and I was trying to get the Insomnia Fairy to leave me alone. She wasn't taking my hints - she was playing her favourite game, Mouse or Murderer? and was on a bit of a roll. I sat up and tried to read the nearest thing to hand, which was a sewing book because of course it was.

I'm not entirely sure what happened next. It was about four in the morning, I hadn't had much sleep recently, there seemed to be no prospect of my catching up on it any time soon. I can only assume that in my sleep-deprived and slightly delirious state, I'd thought, "I know! I'll make clothes! That is definitely a great thing to do when you're half asleep!" Then I must have read through the book's sewing tutorials (which I'm struggling to not call 'recipes'), seen a pencil skirt that called for just 0.8m of jersey, not considered the fact that I haven't worn a pencil skirt in years, and scrambled through my fabric stash for the sparkles.

I woke up at about lunchtime to find three garments cut out and pinned and another pattern laid out. Insomnia is weird.

Having cut out a pencil skirt from my rainbow sparkly jersey with little regard to its usefulness, I felt like I might as well carry on and sew it up.

(I am struggling with the photoshoot thing at the moment, but I still want to post, so have a crappy mirror-selfie phone photo)

This is the Easy Knit Pencil Skirt from Gertie Sews Vintage Casual. It is stupidly easy. Sew two side seams, sew a piece of elastic together at the ends, sew elastic to top of skirt, flip elastic inside skirt, stitch down at side seams, hem. It barely took me an hour, and that includes hand hemming time. One day I will get a machine which I don't have to MacGuyver the hell out of to make it twin needle-friendly, and on that day I will stop unnecessarily hand-hemming quick projects. 

I'm not much of a pencil skirt person, mostly because tummy cling is my least favourite thing ever, but I think this actually looks OK. Maybe I'll even wear it outside at some point. And if not, then I'll just sit around the house watching myself sparkle. 

Tuesday 22 September 2015


So, you know how I just needed to make something to get me going again? Making something just for the sake of it, just for the enjoyment of sewing it up?

Yeah. About that.

It is possible that I may have bought two Decades of Style patterns, which they don't actually sell in this country so I had to pay £10 shipping and £12 customs (or rather, £4 customs and an £8 "handling fee". Sigh) to get the damn things, and now that I've got them I'm slightly terrified to cut into them and also one of them is a FUCKING 1930s BALLGOWN because there is something wrong with me. The size in the pack won't even fit over my hips but I don't care because it is perfect and beautiful and I'll find a way to make it work when I'm better at every single skill I might need to make this thing into an actual dress.

So that's a goal project. Which means I probably didn't need to buy it right now, but hey. 

The overalls, however, I am planning to have a crack at. I'm going to have a go in a cheaper fabric first in case it turns out to be well beyond my skill set, but I'm planning to spend New Year's Eve in an utterly ridiculous apartment in Palermo (I know, I suck, you can hate me, it's fine), and the idea of lounging about on a massive Italian terrace dressed like that appeals to me rather more than it should. Also if I can find a way to wear a top underneath without looking daft, I can probably wear them to dance in. 

...also I bought a book with patterns to make 20 dresses and I bought a couple of Craftsy classes which came with free Vogue patterns, and also I bought a Vogue pattern in a half price sale, so I am really not allowed to buy any more for a while. I'm trying to put together a sewing list like most other bloggers seem to have done, but it's proving rather tricky. I'm going fabric shopping with a friend tomorrow, so after that I'll try and put something together. Possibly. 

Monday 14 September 2015

a stumbling block

So, about that massive gap between posts. I've hit whatever the sewing version of writer's block is (I can't give it a name because Sewer's Block looks rather disgusting written down and I still refuse to accept that "sewist" is a word).

I had a couple of weeks away from my sewing machine, for holiday/visiting family reasons, and in some ways that was great. I got to spend time with people I love, I got to wander round in fresh air, I got to eat quite a lot of very nice food. But also, it allowed me time to think. And time to think is a very dangerous thing.

I have a fast-working brain, a head for problem solving, a great imagination and an excellent memory. And when I'm happy, these are great things. I can learn fast, I can write, I can see my way around an awkward situation, I am a demon on a pub quiz team. Happy Jen has a lot going for her. However, Happy Jen isn't a constant, and two things you REALLY don't want when you're anxiety-prone is a great imagination and an excellent memory. I have managed to create what seemed to my brain at the time an entirely plausible connection between poor choice of accessories on my part and getting straight-up murdered in broad daylight. I remember nasty things other kids said when I was in infants' school (and there were a lot of those. Being a quiet smart kid who likes books will get you picked on a lot, who'd have thought). When I'm not feeling great, my imagination and memory work in tandem - imagination suggests several scenarios in which disaster will befall me if I attempt to accomplish some minor task, memory obligingly provides evidence of times when bad things happened or people were unpleasant to me in similar circumstances - to make it very difficult for me to leave the house. It's a bit of a bugger.

In my time away from the sewing machine, I have had the following thoughts:

1. Everything I make is too sloppy and I should take more time over it.
2. Do you see the amount of work some people put in to a basic skirt? I should be doing that, not being all crazy and trying to learn how to make trousers.
3. Maybe I should still be on my very first skirt, making it all couture and stuff.
[impulse-and-shame-buy online class on couture techniques]
4. I made my first skirt at the end of May and it's now September and these are ridiculous expectations to have of myself.
5. I possibly shouldn't have bought that class WHO WANTS TO GO ON A TRIP TO MONEY-PANICVILLE??
6. It's fine, I just need to make something.
7. I should practice techniques on scraps of material for two years or something before I'm allowed to make any clothes.
8. Yeah, but I won't, because that's boring.
9. Just make something, dammit.
11. I'm going back to bed. I haven't made things. And the more I don't make things, the more I become convinced that I don't have any patterns that are wearable or any fabric that would look good on me. I need to stop this, because it is ridiculous and also not sewing makes me sad. But I need a starting point, and of course I'm massively overthinking what that starting point might be. Thing A is too complicated, but Thing B is too simple; Fabric X is too precious to cut right now but Fabric Y was an ill-advised impulse buy and I won't like what I make from it.

My current plan is to get everything ready so that when inspiration does strike, I'm ready to go. In step form:

1. Pre-wash all the fabric I own that I haven't already washed, so all my options are open
2. Tidy up my sewing area so that I know where all the tiny little things that get lost are (seam ripper/zip foot/weird needle-changing screwdriver thing)
3. Take the really organised step of keeping a list of what fabrics I have and how much I have of them, so that it's easier to match them to appropriate patterns
4. Stop pretending I'm going to use tiny little scraps and get rid of them, even if that girl commenting on that blog said that was a bad wasteful thing to do and any TRUE sewing enthusiast would cling on to those scraps of £2.99 per metre cotton for DEAR LIFE
5. Try to chill out, at least a tiny bit.

(...and exhale)

Thursday 10 September 2015

Kimono games, round two

(I almost called this post "Kimo-no-you-didn't". I'm sorry.)

The day after I made my first kimono, I started making another.

This is another of my remnant bin spoils, a lightish jersey, and I'd had it in mind for a jacket for a little while. I like the sparse print - it's enough to make it interesting without taking it too far away from 'neutral' territory and thus out of the Zombie Hoodie Replacement Race. I'd had a plan from the beginning to make my mother one of the kimono jackets for her birthday, and I wanted to do a practice run in jersey to see which fabric would be better for her (spoiler: she got jersey).

Here it is, and here I am, on an actual beach on the actual sun on a holiday in the UK. I'm not quite sure how that happened.

I had a very definite idea of how the print was going to work on this jacket, and it was quite difficult to get it to do what I wanted with the bit of remnant bin fabric I had. I knew I wanted the massive print on the back, but not exactly centred, and I wanted the edges of the print on the sleeves. I had to fold my fabric in an odd place to get the print on the back, and with what was left I couldn't get both sleeves the way I wanted them (the right sleeve worked better than the left). There wasn't enough for me to fit the collar on the remnant as it was, and I had to do a fair amount of stretching to get it to fit. Yay jersey! 

This is my new Most Useful Piece, and I can wear it with most things. However, as it's quite loose-fitting, it doesn't fulfil all of Zombie Hoodie's functions. I'm starting to worry that I'm going to have to make a literal copy of Zombie Hoodie, and I'd really much prefer to have something... I don't know, more stylish, more interesting? Not inspired by a 20-year-old Miss Selfridge velour zip-up hoodie that was probably never meant to fit the way it currently does but has been stretched beyond all recognition? Yeah, that.

My boyfriend was quite insistent on getting a picture of my shadow showing the sleeves off. So here is Shadow Jen, wide on sleeves and short on legs, apparently wearing a croissant for a skirt. How lovely.

Apologies for the massive gap between posts. I'll try not to do that again, I promise.