June 15, 2013

Polka dot Scout

After disassembling my bicycle tshirt the other day, I got it in my mind to tweak the Scout pattern as there were some aspects I didn’t like so much. Even cutting it to a size 0, there was too much fabric around the waist and in the sleeve caps. So I took in a bit here, added a bit there, and this is the result.


The battery is dead in my camera so we’ll have to make do with phone pics this time, sorry!

The fabric I got from Pippa Blue at the K&S show. I think it’s a Robert Kaufmann cotton. It’s not as stiff as your usual quilting cotton so it drapes a bit better.

You can see the shape and fit better here.


My modifications were these: I’m about a 35″ bust and 28″ waist so I found cutting the recommended size 6 to be way too baggy. That’s the style of it, though, so it depends what you like. I cut a size 0 and then, I took an inch out at each waist side seam (so 4″ overall) and drew in the curve so that the hip measurement stayed the same. I raised the neckline 2″and I took 3/4″ out of the top of the sleeve. I think it worked pretty well.

Speaking of Pippa Blue, I was able to visit earlier this week and I picked up these really fantastic fat quarters!


They are so fun, I’m not sure what I’ll use them for. Maybe the one on the right for something kitchen-y and the one in the left for a project bag.

I also picked up this marvellous navy floral print.


I was eyeing it for quite a while online and let me tell you, it is even better in person. I paired it here with a Kona cotton that I bought this time last year for a blouse but never got around to it. I think these go really well together – something like a quarter circle skirt and a sleeveless fitted shirt to tuck into it is what I have in mind. These are both washed and ready to go so I’m hoping to get stuck into both really soon (like, tomorrow).

Have a great weekend and hope I have something to show you Monday!


April 29, 2013

What I’m working on and some new tools

Filed under:Plans-Ideas- Designs,Stash — Aileen @ 08:00

A floral blouse for spring. Such a print literally makes me weak at the knees. Behold its tiny, delicate prettiness:

Finally cracking on with my tartan kilt. I got the whole thing assembled ok and tacked down all of the pleats. I started to topstitch the pleats when I realised that this is not going to work. The pleating is slightly curved and despite my tacking, was impossible to keep aligned exactly as I machined it. I let it sit for a while and then yesterday, decided to look up a youtube video to see if anybody else had the same problem. Whilst searching, I came across a very simple video of someone hand-stitching kilt pleats in place. It gave a totally clean finish so I decided to start again and do it this way. So far, so good. I can stitch two pleats in one quarter of NBA basketball so two games will see me to the end.

So, the new tools. I wouldn’t describe myself as a gadget person. I’m lucky that I often get very useful presents for Christmas and my birthday and consequently, rarely go on the hunt for those little things. However, recently, I have felt in want for some things to help me in my sewing.

On the top is a large clear ruler. I think it is 18″ x 3″ with marks throughout in both directions at 1/4″ intervals. There are also markings for 30, 45 and 60 degrees. I find it difficult to align pattern pieces absolutely along the grainline. I use a combination of a measuring tape and short ruler with varying degrees of frustration. This new ruler has a good weight which means I can move the piece very slightly underneath it.

The blue tin on the left is a tin of silk pins. Pins are funny things. I have two sets of pins – the long dressmaking pins I bought before starting the drafting class I took about five years ago, and the quilting pins that I use when sewing knitting together. When working with fine fabrics, I find that even my dressmaking pins leave holes. Sometimes they press out but sometimes they don’t. I suppose it doesn’t really matter but if I’m going to shell out for an awesome fabric, I’d like my finished garment to look as good as possible.

The weird pliers-like implement to the right of the silk pins is a pattern notcher. I noticed when making my spring pants that where I had cut my pattern notches, it significantly weakened the seam and caused a lot of fraying. I read up about this gadget and figured it would be worth it considering that I am sooo slow at cutting out notches and very bad about tidying up the million triangles that result. So far, so good.

Second from the right is a gauge. I think it’s more of a quilting tool but I am abysmal at marking hems. This gadget has a little red notch that you can move as a visual aid. It only cost me about £2 and was worth every penny. No more wonky hems! Then on the right is a little box of glass headed pins. I have a huge problem with my regular dressmaking pins – I have no nails because of the piano and it takes me ages to pick one up or take out of fabric. As my sewing has increased, so has my frustration. These pins were about £2.50 and I thought I would try them out. Verdict? I’ll never go back. The glass heads aren’t affected by iron heat and are easy to grasp. The body of the pin is just like my old pins so there is no compromise.

Nerdy, no?! The rulers and pins I got from an English shop called Cotton Patch. The notcher I found on Amazon.


February 28, 2013


Filed under:News!,Plans-Ideas- Designs,Stash — Aileen @ 10:29

Things are busybusybusy here as we get into competition and concert season! Alb and I are also busy counting down to Easter because we have had a little getaway planned for a long time. Of course, with holidays comes sewing for holidays so here are my plans for the next few weeks.


The green print is a cotton with some stretch that I bought in Murphy Sheehy’s last spring. I bought enough for a dress but never had the guts to sew it up. Dear readers, its time has come. It’s going to be a Cambie Dress. Given my previous success with just the skirt part of this pattern, I think it’s time to sew up the whole thing. The solid green cotton was a long-searched-for match. It is peculiar how the texture of a fabric can affect colour matching. Anyway, it is for a bolero. I looked through all my patterns and many online before finally settling on one that I have had a long time but never made: the cropped blazer from Salme patterns.


The black hole on the top of the photo here is in fact navy stretch cotton for a pair of pants. I bought this Burda pattern after seeing a few peoples’ successes with it, it seems like a good match for the cotton. The print is a light voile for an Airelle blouse. I will probably omit the collar given my track record for making blouses with collars that do not fit over cardigans!

And that’s it. I think two outfits to bring with me and still get wear out of afterwards is a good, achievable aim.


November 2, 2012

An extremely biased review

Filed under:Stash — Aileen @ 15:36

As I mentioned, I went to the Knitting & Stitching show yesterday. I really enjoyed it so here is my extremely biased review 🙂

I bought my ticket in advance and went with my Mum, who queued at the door. We were there before it opened so I got in straight away and she didn’t have to queue for very long at all. Inside, it was calm until about 11:45. By that stage, I had thankfully seen most things. There were a lot of patchwork and quilting stalls, more than anything else, I think. And there were a lot of ‘other’ stalls selling clothes and the usual household stuff. I found my favourites quickly though, namely Pippa Blue and Fabrics Galore.

I had the honour of being Pippa Blue’s first customer! It was so nice to see them and talk to them. They are doing great in their big, bright new shop and they told me all about the classes and workshops they’re running now. Check out Eva’s flickr for more inspiration! So they’re down at the end with lots of room to see and browse everything. They had all of their adorable new stock with them, including the Moda and Kaffe Fassett prints as well as the too-lovely Oh Deer stuff. I got a bunch of fat quarters because they’re a most useful cut.

Foxes, mushrooms and birdies.

Sewing paraphernalia and coffee pots. Possibly the epicentre of one’s world.

And because I am weak in the face of a beautiful almost-voile like cotton – some of the Kaffe Fassett print.

They were so nice and threw in a pack of their ever-popular cotton poplins because I was their first customer! How sweet was that! I am thinking about making a set of buttonhole napkins with them. I made others before, with help from 1, 2, 3 Sew, and I use them all the time (simple, fantastic book by the way, perfect for the directionless sewer in need of a quick fix).

In general there were a lot of patchwork and quilting stalls there but thankfully there wasn’t a huge amount of repetition. There was only one or two stalls selling basic solids. I wanted a little bit of white for blouse collars and had to really hunt for it! The other thing I missed was someone, other than Pippa Blue, selling the lovely Westminster prints such as those by Heather Bailey, Tanya Whelan, Amy Butler. I thought that was strange. In that vein, I also missed anyone selling metreage of Tilda fabric. There was a stall selling only fat quarters of it but they were very expensive. I’ve used Tilda before for this blouse and this top and I can’t say how much I adore it. It is expensive, true, but so unbelievably hard-wearing, soft, washable, and all with a beautiful hand and drape.

Fabrics Galore was the other place I bought fabric. I bought a lot from them last year and am happy to say that I have used all of it except for one piece. This year I was more particular. They had a lot of jersey and no wools at all. The jersey was cheap and I found good, big pieces in their €5 pile. They also had navy cord for €8/metre so I bought 1.5m of that too. All in all, very happy for €22. These will all go really nicely together.

However, they had another stand, close to where Pippa Blue were, with all of their Liberty and Japanese fabrics. Oh dear. Voile was one of the main things on my list. I recently bought this pattern from Deer and Doe and have nothing wafty enough to make it with. I had a good time chatting to the guy; I told him how much I enjoyed sewing up all I had bought last year. The Liberty is on the top and the bottom fabric is a Japanese cotton with dragonflies on it.

Both of these will fit neatly into my wardrobe as blouses. I really love the dragonflies, the print is subtle enough that it will work I think.

Obviously I didn’t buy wool this time around! I made the decision not to before I went and it worked out for the best. There was a decent amount of wool at the show and lovely to see so many Irish suppliers showing there now, like The Constant Knitter, Winnie’s Wool Wagon, Craftspun and the Trim wool shop. This is Knit aren’t showing this year but they have their beautiful big shop in town now. And speaking of shops in town, I was pleasantly surprised to see Murphy Sheehy’s and Rubanesque there. I didn’t buy anything from either because I shop there quite regularly.

Overall, it was very pleasant while it was quiet. It was a pity it wasn’t in Simmonscourt like last year. The main hall is narrower and there was less room to move around once it got busy. In some cases, I abandoned trying to make my way through the aisles. I can only imagine how laboursome it must have been for those in wheelchairs, with walking aids or buggies. There is not enough seating in the main restaurant area by a mile – a shame because one of the good things I remember from last year was the plentiful amount of seating areas. It’s stupid really; if you have place for people to rest and take their time, they will spend more time there and inevitably more money.

I bought one other thing that I’m not going to talk about today! Not including that, it may surprise you that, including my ticket fee, I spent less money than last year. I didn’t buy any yarn, notions, kits, food or drinks. I did bring a lot of water and a packed lunch with me.

The exhibition of quilts was amazing. The allure of quilting alludes me but there is no disputing the artistry and talent that went into the exhibition. Truly beautiful works of art. Along those lines, it was brilliant to see all the guilds and groups out in force.

All in all, I think if you go, you won’t be disappointed. But do go early: I left at 1:30 yesterday and it was quite mental by that stage!


September 27, 2012

Autumn plans

Filed under:Finished Objects,Plans-Ideas- Designs,Sewing,Skirts,Stash — Aileen @ 12:25

A little later than intended but here we are. I have been thinking about my Autumn making for quite a few weeks.

First up is the tartan I got in Edinburgh. One of my initial impulses was to make a bottle green cardigan to go with it. I haven’t really worn green since school; it’s just not a colour I gravitate towards. But these two were meant to be together. I’m planning on the cover sweater from the current Knitscene. The pattern is only on the front so it keeps the sweater from being too visually heavy I think.

Aside from matching the tartan, I think it will go with a lot of other things I wear a lot, such as jeans, my black wool Clover pants (photos soon! I’m so happy with them!), my grey wool Ginger, the denim Proper Attire skirt… and so on.

Next is a charcoal herringbone wool I picked up on Saturday for a pleated skirt and a steely-coloured Jamieson & Smith shetland wool. The top I’m planning on is Biston from the new Brooklyn Tweed release. It’s the kind of cardigan or shrug that will go over pretty much anything.

I imagine this shrug will be something I reach for to go with the grey Ginger, my grey wool dress, the black wool Clover pants, and I imagine it would look pretty good over skinny jeans and boots.

I love the wool so much that I am debating getting more for a winter jacket. The last few winters, I have hunted for a well-fitted wool jacket and failed. Oh, they exist but not in my price range. And there’s the thing where if I did pay something like €300 for a jacket, would I be brave enough to wear it? A jacket in this wool is a significant investment of my money and time. It would cost me in the region of about €90 to make, including a silk lining. I am interested in a more long-term tailoring project and am willing to take every precaution to guarantee a successful outcome… should I go for it? What do you think?

So, over the last month or so, I have taken advantage of sales and bargain bins to accumulate some stash for autumn sewing. It looks like a monstrous pile but they’re all folded up so don’t judge!

From the bottom up:
– Almost invisible black cord. It was €6/m on sale in Hickey’s and because it was the end of the bolt, I got 3m for €15. Not sure how that works but it’s good enough for me. Destined for wide-legged pants (I’m thinking Juniper from Colette) and hopefully some sort of skirt from leftovers.
– More charcoal-black wool, the same I used to make my Clover pants from. These are for pants for my mum. Again, it was the end of the bolt so I got an extra 75cm for free.
– Olive cotton drill. At a ridiculously wide width, I paid something like €7 for about 1.25m and shall have another pair of wide-legged pants.
– Blue polycotton and white cotton poplin for blouses. These are deep stash resurrected since I have no plain blouses. This situation is currently in the process of being corrected.
– A smidge of green silk from Rubanesque. I want a posh, simple top with cap sleeves for playing/working/going out.
– .75m olive green cord, 150cm wide so enough for a skirt. Bargain bin at the Cloth Shop, something like €9. I’m thinking of maybe the Moss mini skirt but we’ll see.
– That’s actually a big white sheet that got mixed up in the laundry and then tidied away. Such is the extent of my tidying.
– On the very top is another Violet blouse in a navy polycotton with a white poplin collar.

You may notice an emphasis on plain! There are few white or solid-coloured blouses in the queue. Also, I realise I need some comfortable-yet-respectable clothes for being at home, hence the two pairs of wide-legged pants. I can’t wear tracksuit bottoms anymore, I hate them.

Lastly, here’s a quick shot of a navy wool/cashmere Ginger skirt I knocked together since the weekend.

It was €17 a metre, I bought two and with some cautious cutting got this skirt and another pair of Clover pants out of it. This is my third Ginger skirt so it didn’t take me very long at all. I hope to get proper photos of it soon; the drape of the fabric is just lovely.

Tomorrow’s Friday!