Missoni Muslin

After a bit of a delay in getting round to doing another post here's an update regarding project Missoni.

In order to not waste an incredible bit of fabric I decided to actually do a trial version in cheap fabric to make sure my pattern fit properly. I used to hate the idea of doing a muslin before a real project however since learning how to draft my own patterns it has become an absolute must and really worth the time and effort for a good looking garment.

I used a pattern I drafted a while ago designed for stretch fabric - so there are no darts or twiddly bits - just a very simple shape. Its the main body and long sleeves, like a tube dress or sweater dress.

Firstly I cut out the pieces from some fabric I've had in the stash for YEARS. It finally has a purpose!!

Next up is assembling it - I'm doing it the cheats way. I'm not a fan of 'setting in' sleeves, whereby you make a sleeve and then gently ease it into the armhole. In this case as its a very casual dress made of stretch knit fabric there's not much need for that anyway.

What I do for these kind of dresses is firstly pin the dress at the shoulder seams - right sides together - and stitch them in place. 

Once that is done, lay the dress flat so the back and front are splayed out and you can see the curve of the armhole (armsyce if you want to get technical.)

From there you can match the centre point of the sleeve to the shoulder seam. If you pin this first, you can then continue outwards in both directions pinning the sleeve to the armhole. Give it a sew!

 Now you have the sleeves attached, all you have to do is put the dress right sides together and sew right up the side seam and across along the arm all in one go. Voila - dress done.

So this is the general dress pattern I want for the Missoni dress - fortunately the pattern fit right and didn't require any adjustments. It was made to measure however if you're using a commercial pattern now would be the time to put it on and get pinning any adjustments that need doing. Make the alterations and get your finished fitting muslin.

I quite like this how it is however given the colour I'm one pink lipstick shade away from being an extra on The Only Way Is Essex - so its being cut up for a pattern!

Once your muslin fits and all adjustments have been made, you can then cut it up again to form a new pattern that fits you just right, you're new alterations form a new pattern piece :-) (Don't forget your seam allowance!)

All that needs doing now is to make the real thing and hope and hope it doesn't mess up or get lost in translation...

Halloween Pouch - Drawstring bag tutorial

Happy weekend all.... now that the machine is back looking all sparkly and efficient I thought it was time to give a tutorial a go!

So this is how to make a VERY BASIC drawstring bag, it may not be everyone's way of doing it, but its A way of doing it, and it works :-)

You are going to need:
  • Spectacular fabric (amount depends on how big you want your bags) - my fabric strip is approx 38cm x 15cm.
  • Pins
  • Ribbon/string for the drawstring
  • Thread for sewing on your machine
  • Scissors
  • Pinking shears (optional)
  • Curious reptile (also optional - although I didn't have much say in the matter)
Step 1

Cut a rectangle of fabric; these are 38cm x 15cm - not an exact science just have a fold of your fabric and see how big you want the bags. My print was tessellated and so it didn't matter which way up the fabric was. If you have a print that you can only see one way up, you may need to cut 2 rectangles; 1 front and 1 back piece and join them together.

Step 2
Step 1 - fold tiny side hems in
Step 1 - sew tiny hems
Fold the long edges of the fabric inwards, on the 'wrong' side of your fabric - this can be very small, and we're doing it so that when the drawstring casing is finished, there are no raw edges showing and its nice and neat. Sew these folds all the way down on both sides.

 Step 3 

Step 3 - Finish raw edges
Step 3 - fold edge to create casing
Now this is entirely optional, but I like things to look neat - finish your top and bottom edges (narrow edges) with pinking shears or an overlocker. (If you don't do it - who cares, we're not giving out awards here - and if someone dares comment on your raw edges after receiving a lovely halloween bag you may want to rethink what kind of 'treat' went in there ;-)

Anyway, make another fold in this edge - this forms the casing for your drawstring. Make sure the fold is big enough to allow your chosen ribbon/string to fit through it. The fold on these bags is approx. 1.5cm. Sew the fold at the lowest edge - forming a tube through the fabric for your ribbon.
Step 3 - sew down the casing

Step 4

Take your fabric and now fold it together, right sides facing each other. Pin along the sides to hold it in place. Place a 'stopper' pin across the top of the bag to remind yourself to stop sewing! You don't want to sew all the way up - only to the line of stitching that created the drawstring casing, otherwise you wont be able to put your ribbon in...

Step 4 - sew your side seams
Step 4 - fold and pin to where casing starts

Step 4.1 - Fend off an attack to the knee

 Step 5 

Turn your bag inside out so its the right way round! You might want to push out the corners with a pencil or ruler to get them nice and sharp.

Step 5 - taking shape...
Step 6

Your bag is nearly ready! Now take your ribbon and measure out enough to go through the bag and have extra on either side for fastening in a bow. You can either have 2 bits of ribbon - one for each side of the casing - or 1 bit - that goes through one side of casing and back through the other side giving you a bow on one side only.

Step 6 - Cut your ribbon length
Feed your ribbon through the drawstring casing - the best way to do this is to attach one end of ribbon to a safety pin. Feed the pin through the casing and keep feeling your way across, pushing the pin through all the way - your ribbon pops out the other end!
Step 6 - feed ribbon through with safety pin

Step 6 - the magically appearing ribbon
Step 7

You have a drawstring bag! Fill it with goodies, then pull on the ends of the ribbon to form the closure, tie up in a fabulous bow. 

Step 7 - you're done!
Drawstring bag!
Step 8

Go mental - make loads - fill them with treats - step back admire your handy work and have a whiskey. 

Fabric Focus - Alexander Henry

So its week 2 of not having my sewing machine back...beginning to wonder where on earth it is as engineer said she had done last Friday!

I thought I'd take a look at one of my fav textile designers Alexander Henry. I used to make 'retro/rockabilly' inspired dresses and Alexander Henry fabrics lend themselves so well to this with the amazing collection of 'Island Girls' vintage pin-up prints and various, fire, nautical and Dia de Muertos themes.

Island Girls
June Bird Song
Alexander Henry is a premier textile design house taking inspiration from art history and culture at large. It is run by Marc, Phillip and Nicole de Leon and each artist working there paints each pattern by hand.

HQ is in Burbank, Califrnia however Alexander Henry fabrics are available globally and their collections are ever expanding! The best source are online shops such as Plush Addict, FancyMoon, FabricInspirations and of course Ebay!

Magic Meows
'Magic Meows'
One of their current collections is 'Haunted House' perfect for this season :-) and containing cotton prints ranging from cartoon pumpkins to the 'pin-up girl' style of 'Bewitched'.

One of my absolute favourites is a print called 'Tatsu' from the Indochine range - of which I bought an entire bolt (possible mistake!). I did however manage to at least make a lined dress from it - covered in dragons!

 Hop on over to Alexander Henry and take a look....
'Tastu' dragon dress

Plush Addict - Fabric Shopping

Upon receiving a call from the sewing machine engineer who gave me the good news that my dear ol' machine is nearly fixed and on its way back, I thought now would be a good time to get some supplies (fabric bender) and do a little review of my new favourite online fabric shop - Plush Addict.

Plush Addict Logo
Black Superhero Slicker (Lminated Cotton)
Laminated cotton - Superhero slicker
Run by a lady called Kellie as a family business, who initially started the business for cloth nappy making supplies, the range offered has grown massively! And wow does she know her fabrics...

I've used this online shop a few times now and have to say it really does offer a quality service. Its clean, bright, well laid out and most importantly the search function actually works when typing in my usual hunt for the obscure.

Fleece - Baum black elephants
Plush Addict offer a whole array of beautiful novelty print fabrics including the latest prints from designers such as Michael Miller, Robert Kaufman and Free Spirit. Better yet they have a fabulous range of flannels, fleece and even laminated cotton

Always seasonal, there is a superb range of Halloween and even...is it rude to blog the C word?...Christmas fabrics.

The email newsletter is a joy to browse rather than something destined for the junk folder, tempting you with all the latest goodies. The products are regularly updated and added to allowing you to discover something new every time.

Fabrics are dispatched on the same working day as payment is received and the last batch I ordered arrived the next day! Any orders of £40 also qualify for free delivery - bonus.
This time I've gone for some cute sheep border panels which may make a reappearance on this site at some point, laminated cotton and a Sew Your Own Lunch Bag kit - created by Plush Addict - which I thought might be fun to have a go at.

SusyBee - Sheep In Row Border Panel
Border panel
They also sell beginner's sewing kits - wink wink - should anyone want to join in the tutorials next week :-)

To the check-out I go...

Britex Fabrics

So while my machine is out of action now may be a good time to show you a fantastic fabric shop which I recently visited. Although a little less local than may be useful!

On a recent trip to San Francisco I stopped at one of the BIGGEST fabric shops I have ever seen. Britex Fabrics. I did not just stumble upon this, I admit that it was premeditated (much to the other half's dismay).

Floor 1
Britex Fabrics - Geary Street, SF
Located on Geary Street near Union Square this impressive shop was set up by Martin Spector (originally from Poland) in 1952 after having moved to San Francisco with his wife. His vision for floor to ceiling walls of fabric was realised and spanning 120 feet its an incredible sight!

The building itself is 4 FLOORS! One of which is like an Aladdin's Cave haberdashery with every type of button and notion imaginable.The other three are home to local and internationally designed textiles with fabulous staff manning each station.

Floor 3 Notions
Wall to ceiling fabric
It was as the saying goes 'like being a kid in a candy shop'. But I was on the hunt for something elusive.....Missoni fabric. I have tried for a long time to get hold of this stuff. A beautiful Italian design light knit fabric used by Missoni which you can take home and create a garment for yourself...joy. I have only ever found the odd one or two pieces of this fabric in the UK (perhaps I'm just not looking in the right places) but as we were in the area on holiday, it was the perfect opportunity to save some import duty and cruise the entire range!

I was served by a fabulous gentleman who helped select colours, measured me up so I bought the right quantity for my planned Missoni dress and even posed for a photo. What a star. Thank you man in Britex, I apologise for not getting your name. A lady upstairs on Floor 3 also spent a good 20 minutes choosing the right colour banding for the neckline and showing me how to sew it!

Best assistant ever - (Douglas!)
The chosen Missoni
All the while the men of our group had been offered a chair downstairs while they waited patiently...

A brilliant experience and a great purchase made. All I have to do now is figure out what the heck to make with it..... What should one do when pondering such things....a root beer in the sunshine. :-)

Decision time

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So apparently I have to 'Claim my Blog' to be on Bloglovin, this is me doing just that. x

Service please!

Ironically on the second day of this blog's existence my sewing machine has gone for a service and won't be back for two weeks!

This is it:

Its a fabulous little machine from John Lewis (JL300C). I bought it around four years ago and it does everything the average home sewer would need. The digital display allows you to select from 30 different stick types including automatic buttonholes, embroidery, faux overlock, decorative stitching and settings to alter the stitch length, width and speed.

If you haven't already got a machine but are looking into it, I would definitely make sure you have the buttonhole function if you are going to be making clothing - makes life a whole lot easier!

The last two machines I bought were from John Lewis, I found they had a fantastic range to choose from, fantastically knowledgeable staff and of course their 5 year guarantee.

I will also be using an overlocker (also known as a 'serger'), and this is the wonderful device:

This one is made by Janome, another very reputable brand. Its a four thread overlocker and essentially 'cuts and knits' the edges of fabric to form a very professional finish to seams. You can use it for all manner of craftiness - rolled hems, lace edging, very quickly attaching pattern pieces...all sorts. MakePlace in Norwich even offer a workshop on how to use this machine to its full capacity - highly recommended!
Overlocked/Serged edges

You do not need one of these! However it is a wonderful indulgence worth every penny if you are a bit more experienced. You can always neaten edges with a zigzag stitch (we'll get to that in tutorials ;-)

So there it is, a very mini intro to what I'll be using to show you lots of crafty bits and bobs. It is currently with the lovely engineers at Sew Creative on Magdelen Street in Norwich getting a bit of TLC. Let's hope it comes back all raring to go!


Welcome to my new blog 'Sew What Are You Waiting For' - I hope you will find this an interesting and possibly useful read.

This Guy.
My name is Emma and I am a huge fabric addict who cannot resist purchasing ridiculous novelty prints! I am not a professional seamstress, just a gal who taught herself to sew about 5 years ago with books and the good ol' medium of the internet tutorial. Making your own clothes and other bits and pieces can be very rewarding - it's best achieved with patience (of which I have little),  wine (of which I have plenty) and this guy......my fellow fabric-aholic always ready to lend a hand.

I have played with the idea of doing a blog for some time but always figured 'who the hell would want to read what you have to say...'. But now I've hit my thirties, hell with it, let's do a sewing blog!

So bear with me, I'm no sewing expert and am not professing to show you an exact science or correct and perfect technique, neither am I the world's greatest writer - but what I can offer are handy 'how-to' tutorials for those who just fancy giving craft a go!

The plan is to do fairly simple craft tutorials, fabric shop reviews (the best places to buy locally and online), articles on fabric designers and quirky prints and some general sewing world related information which you may find of use.... do let me know if you have any requests!

Hope to see you here soon :-)