Of Cats and Magpies


Today comes courtesy of Fabric Magpie who very kindly sent and let me loose on 2.5m of some incredible glow in the dark Cat jersey!!

I need to point out this was sent to me for free in exchange for a blog post - however the content was not dictated at all, it was sent to show off this wonderful fabric. I opted for a maxi Blackwood Cardigan. 

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Sewing For Pleasure - Sewcials Road Trip

This is a pretty 'fresh' post by my standards! Having just got back from the NEC Birmingham for the Sewing For Pleasure exhibition I thought I'd do a little write up whilst it was still buzzing in my brain...(and before I collapse with exhaustion).

This was another of our little Norwich Sewcials ventures - get coach, get people, get fabric. Good times. Here is our van full of (hopefully) happy campers as we were leaving the NEC...

This was my first time at the NEC and only my second sewing exhibition (the first being Sewing Bee Live) so I thought I'd share some thoughts and highlights (whether you want them or not).

What struck me most was how much 'random' stuff there was. Don't get me wrong I thoroughly enjoyed the day and the sewing stands but I couldn't wrap my head around how massage, chinese hair clips or general 'tat' factored into things (other than obviously to fill space and make money). I did personally prefer the Sewing Bee Live exhibition, I just found Excel a lot nicer and the stands much more animated and relevant. That being said there were good times and goodies to be had at the NEC!

Of particular amazement to me was my discovery of TOFT. How this has passed me by I have no idea as I do love an animal... As a total newbie to crochet I fell in LOVE with Joanna the Lobster.

The fact someone has made this astounds me. The yarns and kits they had on offer were absolutely beautiful and the ladies were such good fun to talk to. Apparently the key to successful crochet is red wine. Fact. A few of Edward's Menagerie was also on display and you can buy kits to make them all!! The Fabric Wrangler settled for a book - so we can start at beginner level. Expect a lobster in a decade.

I finally got to see the infamous 'Geoff' in action at Mr Rosenberg's stand. I hear his name on a weekly basis at my sewing class as a few of the ladies are devout followers of Geoff and his bountiful bolts. Disciples of Geoff return with bags of beautiful, stroke-able goodies so I had to check it out. Not entirely my style however there were some BEAUTIFUL Italian silks that captured my heart. We very nearly bought some but were slightly priced out, having already spent our budget (and more) by this point. One day!

I picked up a beginner's knitting book as I thought I'd persevere and see what happened. Turns out a coach journey home is the place to give it a go as with a bit of encouragement and advice from fellow travellers I managed a few rows!

So what did we buy? Well.... good times were had at Fabrics Galore and Higgs & Higgs! 
I went for some awesome space themed viscose/cotton and teal double gauze with gold dots on for a couple of shirts. I also couldn't resist the colour of the lime/yellow heart viscose either! The top pieces of fabric are Sari silk which I have always wanted to get hold of and try sewing - I picked up these meter off-cuts for a bit of a bargain at the Silk Route.I'm thinking a simple Ogden cami for those to show off the print/colour and be cool in summer. Yes - there was a purchase at Toft, but it's a present so I'll not show it here! A few buttons were picked up at TotallyButtons 'just because'.

 Now - why are there some neon Aerolock threads there you may ask - errm.....because this is me lurking around the Janome stand...

and I MAY have bought a cover stitch machine. Maybe. Probably. Yes, I did. If anyone asks 'm blaming this guy:

Did you go to the show? Let me know what you thought :)

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Sew Your Own Activewear - Fehr Trade Selection

I'm continuing along the elastic lines today and wanted to share my activewear project with you. I have been using the Sew Your Own Activewear book by Melissa Fehr which I pre-bought whilst at the Sewing Bee Live exhibition in...::cough::...2017.

Yes, talk about late to the party - it's 2019 and I STILL hadn't completed my initial drafts started shortly after purchasing it. UNTIL NOW.

Goodness knows why it has taken so long. Each time I reach for gym wear I moan that nothing fits or is suitable and then 'make do' with some ill-fitting top that annoys me during exercise.  WHY?!

Due to being fed up of my own whinging, I set about making the Raglan Tee. The book comes with 4 basic blocks, which you trace to your size guide and then pattern alter as per the instructions for each of the 15 patterns. The instructions for pattern alterations are absolutely wonderful and I should not have feared the drafting. Step-by-step it takes you through each change with good illustrations and clear language.

I had been saving some absolutely beautiful bamboo knit from Ray Stitch for the occasion and  I am pleased to report it did not disappoint. Once you go bamboo it's hard to go back! I've recently discovered a new UK supplier SimplyBabooFabrics and they also have some great stock.

The construction was a little unusual for me however I did it as per the book. Unfortunately I put the sleeves in the wrong way and so my seams were showing! This was a happy bit of fortune in the end as I covered the seams with jersey binding and it made the top pop! The Snoopy is a little decal I made on the Cricut - I copied a cartoon, scanned it in and cut it on white iron on vinyl. So cute.

The size is pretty decent, its nice and loose which I prefer, but I think next time round I may shape the waist just to make it a little more fitted to avoid it creeping up my body and over the head when doing floor work. It has been tested in the gym and the fabric was excellent - super sweaty but it wicked away moisture well and there were no patches.

Next up was the Yoga Bottoms. Not necessarily for yoga but I preferred the shape and contour band for fit so went with these instead of the Active Leggings. This was also a 'two toile' situation.

Measurements put me at an L so I mocked up some leggings in scrap poly-lycra. I'm not sure if I had traced incorrectly but they were initially huge. The picture above is after I had taken a good 2 inches from the inner and outer leg seams. The book recommends a test fit so it was no surprise that fitting had to be done and after a bit of pinning, re-sewing and adjusting the pattern pieces I got my leggings block!

The next test was to try the basic pattern with all the bells and whistles. I went contour band, moto knee patch, side stripe, gusset and just for good measure....another Snoopy. My reasoning was that if I could get all the things on one pattern, there would be no need for any further toiles and I'd have a block for all variations. A friend from sewing class kindly let me have a go on her cover-stitch machine and now I'm a bit obsessed with it. This could get expensive.

This fabric was cotton lycra from Girl Charlee UK which was a much better quality than my first toile but certainly not gym appropriate. (See-through!)

Absolutely fine for yoga/sport/gardening at home but out of the house.... no-one needs to see your downward dog luv.

The waistband needs a better, thicker elastic for me to hold everything in but other than that the fit was pretty good.

With regards to the gusset feature I'm not sure if I need it or not. Firstly I can't stand the word so not having to type/say it again would be fabulous. It also felt a bit like the leggings were being pulled down at the crotch, and the range of movement was pretty good in the originals anyway. Will take suggestions on that one!

My favourite part of these is the side stripe. Oooohhhhh the possibilities. On to phase 2 of my mission - finding actual performance-grade fabric! (It shall be a true testament to the fabric if it can maintain its opacity on my derriere. Challenge set.)

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Pirate Peg Legs and Makers' Festival Part 2

Now that is a fairly random blog title.

A couple of weeks ago we were back at The Forum for Makers' Festival with a little pitch telling the world about the benefits of dress-making and making some beeswax food wraps!

We were on our feet all day so comfortable attire was needed - enter my usual uniform - the leggings!! Despite earlier new year musings on trying to move away from this basic staple of my wardrobe, I can't escape the fact that...I like them. Even if I do look like "someone stuffed a waterbed into a pair of Wranglers". And you can't fight nature. So why not be a connoisseur of leggings?

I came across this brilliantly themed fabric a few days before the event at SecondStarFabric called 'Make It Sew'. Not a company I was familiar with but they came up with some excellent service and the fabric is very high quality. 

Another slightly new to me company is Patterns For Pirates (P4P) - who I now have become quite a big fan due to the vast array of staple patterns and multiple versions available.

These are the 'Peg Legs' and I have to say - fit straight out of the packet with very little issue. Which for me is rare!

'One peg leg'
Their website is great as each pattern gives you a million pictures of women who have made these, of all shapes and sizes, so you can see what they will likely turn out like. Their Facebook group is also hilarious and a has wonderfully supportive and body-positive atmosphere.

As per the charts, I went for an XL and low and behold - leggings! The pattern is so simple and takes about an hour from start to finish. There is no side seam and they just wrap around the legs. Perfect for showing off a good print. You can whip up a pair with just 1 metre of fabric which is a bonus.

The absolute BEST part of these is the waistband. After some internet stalking I discovered there is an 'add-on' pack for this pattern (free) which includes a contour waistband that hugs you like a dream and seems to fix any rise issues at the front. I will never be making anything other than a contour waist...

Please excuse by bloody awful pictures. They were taken at 7am on my phone whilst rushing about trying to leave the house.

The leggings went down well on the day and had many comments from fellow crafters! There was so much to do and myself and The Fabric Wrangler were also next to a lady from Elegance of Henna and we got ourselves a little decoration...

To the other side of us was an 89-year old lady called Margaret who had knitted the entirety of Great Yarmouth sea front!!

I ditched the knitting in favour of crochet. How fickle I am. However maybe 1 needle may be more manageable than 2!? Eiether way, it was a wonderful festival and I'm pleased to hear it will be back again next year :)

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Norfolk Makers Festival - Norwich Sewcials ReLaunch

I've been super quiet on the blog for a while but mega-busy in real life - for good reason!

Norfolk Makers Festival is currently taking place at The Forum and this year it has been incredible. Crafters of all kinds come together to host workshops, demos and show off their skills to the public, in an attempt to encourage others to pick up a hobby and try something new.

Photo from The Forum

As part of the festivities myself and The Fabric Wrangler were invited as Norwich Sewcials to host some workshops, and amazingly, they even gave us the atrium of the building at night for a little party!

We got backstage passes to the library (woop rock and roll) and were given a huge room to do zip classes and body measurement workshops. Obviously I am not qualified to teach this - that was Pippa!

Red leopard print trousers are Closet Case Patterns Sasha Trousers!
Anyhew - the main event was the mini re-launch of our sewing group Norwich Sewcials. Over the last few years we've poured a lot of man-hours and effort into keeping it going, so we officially registered as a business this year to let us keep going and fund hall rentals, coach hire, equipment etc. We now have a jazzy little membership scheme that gives people discounts on local fabric stores and PDF pattern printing which is something we are really proud to have been able to offer. If you fancy a nosy at our website have a look here: www.norwichsewcials.com

So what better way to participate in a new mini-venture and Makers Festival - we cracked our the Prosecco and had a party :)

As always with these things, I totally neglected to take any proper photographs as we were flat out for the day. One of my personal highlights was trying knitting for the first time with a Knitters and Stitchers group. Those poor ladies!!!! I was absolutely terrible and one had to actually bear hug me from behind, hold my hands and actually move my arms to get it right.

Behold my first ever bit of knitting... If you're thinking the top row looks ok, that's because it wasn't done by me! I have since bought wool and needles and will be having another go...

This is the dream - as seen at the festival! I hope that in a few years I can knit a flock.

Photo by Makers Festival
So there it is - we're back there on 20th with a booth so hopefully a much more relaxed kind of day, but the same fun none the less :)

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Lots of Little Lizards - Elliott Sweater

Let's talk about lizards... ::pushes glasses towards end of nose::

These guys look like little geckos to me, cheeky beasts with sticky little toe pads.

This wonderful french terry was found in Anglia Fashion Fabrics when we had a 'fabric lock-in' last year with Norwich Sewcials. I love a bit of yellow and love a bit of reptile, so I was fairly easily persuaded to part with my cash when this was pointed out to me.

(To possibly your astonishment, there was also a turtle print but I chose this one instead!!)

This pattern is the Elliott Sweater by Helen's Closet. It's been doing the rounds on the interwebs for a while now but I only just got round to sewing it up. It's a time traveler top - cut out in 2018, sewn up in 2019. 

The pattern put me at an L-XL so that's what I went for, and turns out that was spot on. (As was the Blackwood!)

I tend to find that roll-necks bother me a bit and irritate my neck however in an attempt to step into a different style I did try this one. It's a great neckline as its actually quick wide and I cant even feel it on my neck, although its lovely and cosy. Admittedly this is the 'half neck option' - the 'tall neck' was a bit extreme for me and I probably would have just had my nose poking out of the top. 

I love the step hem and the long length which gives coverage where needed. It was a beautifully simple top to sew up and took under an hour to complete (after cutting). I'm surprised at how effective it is and how much I like wearing it. Since the cold weather started I've worn it absolutely loads as you can layer a good size t-shirt under there aswell without it being seen.

This pattern is incredibly similar to the Toaster Sweater although I think the main difference is that this has raglan sleeves, a steeper step-hem, no cuffs and a super turtle-neck option. I'd love to see if anyone has done a Toaster v Elliott comparison. I really like both patterns but I have to say I've worn this one more. I wouldn't rule out making it again if the right fabric cropped up either so that's always a sign of a good make :)

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The Coram (Jail Bird) Dress - Allie Olsen

A little palette cleanser project today!

I know I said I shouldn't be making simple t-shirts all year again, but there was something about this Coram Dress that just called to me and I wanted to make it immediately. So I did. 

This was my first attempt at getting out of my leggings rut. Comfy dress and comfy tights good for winter, and I'm sure it would be a good hot weather option too (ahhh the sun, a long distant memory). 

The pattern is the Coram Dress and Top by Allie Olsen. It's not one that had been on my radar before and only found it a few weeks ago during the 'crimbo limbo' as someone described it. 

The pattern is a 'boxy woven top or dress with cuffed raglan sleeves and shoulder and bust darts for shaping' according to the description. For me the hem shaping, belt and cuffed sleeves were the attraction as it looked a good contender for comfy chic.

And I was right.....

Awesome boots from Joules in sale

I cut a size 14/16 out of some printed jersey from my stash (woo!). I believe the fabric was originally from Girl Charlee - I've had it years and it very nearly went in the donate pile but it's moment of glory arrived and was the perfect amount for this project.

It reminds me of the arrows on prison uniforms...(Fun(ish) fact: Broad arrows on prison uniforms in UK were to denote government property in 19th century)

For a relatively simple make I did have quite a few fitting issues. The sleeve pattern pieces have shoulder darts, which I thought I had done according to the instructions. Something must have gone wrong, although I can't figure out how, as the neckline came out huuuuuuuggggeeee. Unfortunately I didn't really notice until I put the neck band on. Therefore this dress now has an epic boat neck.

I only actually picked up on this when the neckband really had to stretch to fit, and I cut another slightly longer. Its not unusual (try reading that without singing it in your head) that I sometimes do this for other knit tops so didn't think much of it at the time. I had to do a quick fix by pinning the dress in at the shoulders and creating new, larger shoulder darts and shaping them down to the cuff. Not ideal but it worked.

I love the fact that this has bust darts to give a semi-fitted appearance although the top could still do with being a size or 2 smaller to avoid so much blousing when worn. It's so causal though that it doesn't really matter. Still wearable :)

The pattern suggests top-stitching all the seams which was a nice touch. I'd like to make another version of this in black as a bit of a classic go-to piece.

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