Friday, 20 July 2018

Bye bye blogger!

Hi there,

I will no longer be blogging in this space. I have set up a brand new blog which is attached to my shop. I hope to update on a more regular basis from now on with everything being in the same place.

You can now find me here...

Bye bye blogger and thanks for having me!

Marilla xxx

Sunday, 3 June 2018

Me made May - all about the shoes!

My pledge for me made May went like this...

"pledge to focus on my footwear and try and make some quality shoes during the month of May. I also pledge to not buy any fabric and only sew from my stash for the whole month." 

I did focus on my shoes, but I did buy 1 piece of fabric, so I failed ever so slightly!

I chose to focus on footwear as an incentive to get making. My hand made garments are already in heavy rotation and my style is well developed, so I wanted to set myself a task for the month.

I have been wanting to delve back into shoes and sharpen up my skills ever since I bought these gorgeous new leathers from the Misan fabric shop on Goldhawk road.

 The only pair of shoes I had at the beginning of the month were these sandals, which I made earlier in the year. As I'm still experimenting, these were not my most successful make. I was still trying not to use adhesives, but the way I constructed them meant there was too much stress in some areas of the sole and the layers wanted to pull apart and also the turquoise leather is so stiff that they are hard on my toes. I tweaked and altered them until I decided that they were a great learning curve and took them apart completely. Like I said though, they were a great pair for learning all the things I would do differently when I make them again!

Note - I have since bought some water based adhesive that I am more than happy to use! Renia Aquilim

I was determined to make some closed toe shoes for my next pair. I had been wanting to, but somehow making a pledge gave me the push I needed to just get on with it!

I did not photograph the making of these as I just needed to get making and quite frankly, I have no idea what I'm doing. Ha! I hand sewed the yellow upper and strap to the insole in the same way I devised on my first pair of shoes here. I did use adhesive on this pair and also nails to make the outer sole extra secure.

 They are not identical twins, but rather closely related. the yellow uppers were not successfully matched and covered more of one foot than the other, but I trimmed it and made them as good as I could without ruining them completely and now they've been well worn you'd never know ;-)

Everything to do with making shoes for me is a learning process!!!

 The result is that I am super happy with this pair and have worn them for much of May!

I do get a lot of requests for tutorials on how to make shoes, but it's kind of difficult for me, because as I just mentioned, I am constantly learning and still establishing what I want my method to be. I don't want to pass on my limited knowledge knowing that it doesn't guarantee success, but I had a shoe refashion project on my list that is easy enough to share.

 This pair of blue shoes have been sitting in the garage unloved for a while with the idea of transforming them. I love the look of them as they were, but they were incredibly uncomfortable.

The synthetic lining caused blisters every time and the raised foot bed hurt the bottom of my toes even though it was soft. The main issue of these shoes appears to be the amount of plastic in their make up, so with great satisfaction I ripped them apart! Be warned though, industrial processes produce very well made shoes that are HARD to take apart.

I used the inner sole as a template to cut some card to cover the gaps in the outsole. It is that washable paper leather stuff so pretty hard wearing, not actual cardboard from a cereal packet.

I glued it to the sole unit and then cut and glued a slightly smaller foam piece to cushion the sole. The foam is used for bra padding and came from a closed down lingerie factory. You find a use for everything eventually...

Next up  cut and glued some leather to complete my insole and because the original upper was sewn in place I punched holes to sew my new insole to the outsole.

I then trimmed the leather in line with the outsole with a craft knife.

My pattern prep was not very technical. I chose a simple slider style and wrapped a strip of paper over the top of my foot and rubbed along the edge of the outsole for my cutting line. I made sure to push the paper under my foot slightly to allow for the stitch line.

I marked my stitch holes and basted the upper in place to check the fit. I did have to remove 0.5cm before finally stitching the shoe together with a strong linen thread.

These are infinitely more wearable and I'm so pleased to have saved them from the garage. Also, it seems I have a real love of citrus coloured shoes!

The before and after both look good except I can wear one version without crying.

So obviously this refashion will not work for every shoe, but it gives you an idea that there is more creative scope to your shoes than you think!

I hope you had a good and inciteful May! x

Saturday, 7 April 2018

Kinder cardigan - Wendy Ward

I am hear today to talk about a cardigan I made at the beginning of the year just before the release of Wendy Wards new book 'A beginners guide to sewing with knitted fabrics'. I was contacted by the publishing company and supplied with the book and fabric in return for a review, but it all got delayed due to Wendy's book selling so fast that they needed to restock. I was super happy to be able to have a sneak peek and was instantly drawn to the kinder cardigan with its kimono-esque vibe.

I was able to choose some fabric from the Minerva crafts website and could not resist the atelier brunette sweater fabric they had available. Unfortunately I can no longer find it on their website, but they do have this one. I have seen this branded sweater fabric sewn up quite a lot and was intrigued. I can report that it is amazingly soft!

The pattern I chose was a very easy sew and the book walks you through all the steps perfectly. I sewed it all up on my sewing machine as instructed.

The book itself is very much aimed at sewing on a standard sewing machine and explains that there is no need for an overlocker if you do not wish to make the investment. I personally would have found this extremely helpful when I was starting out in sewing with knit fabrics as it is easy to be put off. I remember years and years and years ago trying to sew stretch fabric and it getting all warped through the sewing machine. I have had an overlocker for almost 20 years, so am very lucky and didn't really need to consider how my sewing machine would cope with sewing seams, but I really love the quality of a standard machine sewn seam.

There are some pretty great patterns included for a boxy t-shirt, vest top and wide legged trousers as well as suggestions for how to customise the patterns.

I think that this is such great value for money if you would like a bit of hand holding when it comes to sewing with knits.

I must admit I have struggled to photograph my finished garment as this is definitely more lounge wear for me, but then I didn't want to pair it with my raggedy old pyjamas, so here is what it looks like on with my jeans. Pretty smart! It is so snuggly, I only wish I had made it ginormous so I could wear it as a dressing gown.

I hope this is a helpful review to you and please check out all the other wonderful makers taking part in this tour! xxx

Thursday, 4 January 2018

Printing something out of nothing

Here's a challenge. Use your scraps to give you print confidence!

Two of my most liked pattern sample garments are the ones I printed using a very simple stencilling technique. It is bold and graphic, but so easy to do so I thought I would give a little tutorial today.

All you really need is a stencil, some ink and a sponge. I have a very good supply of some architects drafting sheets, which has a plastic coating and is perfect for stencils, but you could make use of plastic packaging. Be resourceful ;-) My Dad rescued my supply from a skip, so I am one lucky lady! The ink I used is Permaset Aqua screen printing ink from here. It is solvent free, so much kinder to the environment. The scrap of denim is actually a hemmed piece I cut off the bottom of some super long sleeves I was sewing and destined for the recycling bag.

The stencil was simply cut with a scalpel and a cutting mat. It's fun to work with just very simple shapes and design with little pressure to create an accurate repeat.

 With some paper underneath the fabric to protect the table, I just weighed down the stencil and got dabbing with my inked sponge.

Go wild and cover your piece.

To finish off, heat set the print once it has cured or dried properly. I usually do this by throwing my printed fabric in the tumble dryer for a hot spin, but you can use an iron also.

My printed scrap was begging to be made into a pencil case and this bright coral zip looked brilliant against the fabric.

A really good use of some pieces which were destined to be destroyed.

The piece I printed the other day with my carved block got made into a drawstring bag. Perfect to use as a project bag or re-usable gift wrapping.

 So hopefully this demonstrates that you can really enjoy the process by thinking really small and using pieces of fabric that would not otherwise seem useful!

M x

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Printing my stash

Hello and happy new year! A new year feels like a chance to start a fresh. I do not want to make any resolutions because I never stick to them, but I do want to make more of my fabric stash. Fabric bans do not work for me, so I'm going to explore the idea of improving what I have by experimenting with print. If you have followed me for a while then you may already know that I love to play with printing at home. I want to continue doing that and also be more playful to push myself further. I am not sure exactly where this is going to take me, but I thought that I could share my experiments and perhaps inspire some of you to do the same. I have loads of ideas buzzing around, so am trying not to get ahead of myself, but the distraction should at least prevent me from looking at shiny new fabric....

I gently eased myself into the idea by carving a simple block with a repeating geometric design. For reference the block is this softcut. It is my first time using it and I like the smooth texture of the block and how easy it is to carve with no crumbling. I also road tested my recently purchased carving tools. I love that they come with a sharpening block.

I inked the block by rolling some screen printing ink on. It's quite a fluid and slippery ink which is why it's so patchy, but I want to try lots of different things. It created quite a lovely distressed print. My main aim is to make some of my fabric more usable and more attractive to me so I can actually sew them up into something I'm happy with. If you want to play along with me then that would be fab and don't worry about producing enough yardage for a garment. Even printing a fat quarter with which to make an accessory or something can be a great way to rejuvenate your scraps! This is not a formal challenge at all, just something fun to get the creative juices flowing for the new year! x

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Isca shirt instructions

Hi there, just a quick announcement. I have been thinking how to make these files a bit easier to access, so instead of leaving a link on my blog which can get easily lost I have created a listing on Etsy for the minimum amount they allow. I hope this is still as good as free! From there you will receive files for the pattern, an A0 copy shop file and also instructions.

Have a good weekend everyone! xxx

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Isca shirt pattern - free extra pattern pieces

Edit - I have now published a listing on Etsy for the minimum amount they allow to make accessing the files a lot easier. Hopefully this is still as good as free! Included is a print at home, copyshop and instruction file.

Hey, hey, it's Christmas treat time!!! When working on the Isca shirtdress I was always considering the possible variations which could come from the pattern. I do this with every pattern I design, but in order to get a pattern out, sometimes you just have to keep it really concise. The obvious pattern variation is to turn the pattern into a shirt and I was so close to including it, but the pattern was just getting too huge. I mean literally at 4 x A0 pages as published! The pattern pieces were already created and have been sitting in a file, so I thought I would share them with you today. I shall write a separate post with construction notes on how to sew up the new pieces this weekend, but for now I shall just talk about the design details. P.S. skip to the end for an exciting discount on all PDF patterns!

So the shirt is such a great shape. It has shaping through the bust and shoulders as per version A of the main pattern with additional shaping to the back in the form of darts. It has the right amount of relaxed fit for comfort with a flattering shape to follow the shape of your curves. Can you tell that I love it?

I have created a link direct to the PDF here containing the additional pattern pieces you will need to sew this shirt. A new lower front, new back, new button placket and sleeve cuff. You will absolutely need to buy the pattern to make use of these pieces as there is no sleeve, armhole or collar but it's so worth it!

There is no skimping on the finish here and I think it is really fun to construct. I hope you do too! ;-)

The hem is curved and sewn before the side seam, but then bar tacked to reinforce the area. This may not be an order of work you have come across before, but it is by no means unique!

The sleeves have an additional cuff to add a wee bit of length, but to also give you something to turn back. If like me you like the look of a traditional cuff, but always roll your sleeves back then this is for you. It gives the look of a full length sleeve without the extra bulk or constant pushing back of the sleeves. This is something that I have seriously considered.... VERY IMPORTANT STUFF!

The seams are finished as nicely as possible so that when the cuffs are pulled back there are no rough edges.

While I'm showing you stuff, here's a close up of the shoulder reinforcements from the inside. Designed to offer longevity to your garment they also add a nice detail to the overall shirt. You'll just notice that I have finished the armhole seam with a zig zag. This is the only seam finish which is not concealed. I prefer to trim and zig zag to reduce bulk. Top stitching the seam allowance down can cause unnecessary pulling in this area, so I'm happy to leave it plain. As with all sewing, it is down to preference, so I wouldn't be surprised if you like to finish this area differently to me.

I just love how it looks from the inside.

To round off here are some pictures of the shirt on a real body. Dress stands are fine, but sometimes it's more helpful to see a garment on a moving person. I don't own many shirts so it's hard to define what I want from one, but this feels very me!

Now onto that discount I mentioned..... If you would like 25% off any of the PDF patterns in my shop then just type in the code MERRYXMAS17 at the check out. I cannot apply discounts to my paper patterns I'm afraid as I don't have the capacity to manage that kind of sale. I hope you understand!