Thursday, 31 December 2015

December Crafting

Hello! Last day of the month, must be recap time again. :) Still no house, but even better than the house - we got engaged on Christmas Eve! Best Christmas present ever.

Most of the things I made in December were related to Christmas, and as it turned out, involved no sewing again. One of my aims for 2016 (keeping in mind that we might well get married this coming year, and I hope to make things for our wedding) is to sit at my sewing machine and sew something every week, even if it's just a line of stitching.

I did make things in December though. First, of course, were my Christmas cards. Every year I underestimate how hard this is, and this year was no exception, after I broke the snowflake hole-punch from over-use, ran out of snowflakes before the end, and one card was even lost in the post! But I'm really happy with how they turned out, and I made two slightly different colours this year.

Ironically, the one on the left is the one that got lost in the post, so at least I have photographic evidence that I made it?

Next up is a present for my best friend. This is a bookmark, as she'd asked for loads of books for Christmas. I added the chain and the beads to it. The beads represent her three favourite film/theatre characters, Maleficent, Elphaba, and Elsa. I made the Elsa section Frozen Fever, because that green was too perfect to miss!

And finally, two bracelets that I made for myself. I'm slowly trying to make jewellery in all of my favourite colours (still finalising my colour palette), so I made a lapis lazuli one for my blue outfits, and the purple bracelet to go with my burgundy Christmas dress.

I also made earrings to go with the purple bracelet, but didn't get a picture of those.

So, 2016. I'm slowly making a To Do list for the year, but it's such an important year for us with the new house and possibly our wedding that I don't want to commit myself to too much. One thing is for sure though, I have a lot of sewing planned for January! There is going to be a baby shower for my friend in early February, so I will share my January sewing a bit later, as most of it will be a surprise for her.

Happy New Year everyone! xx

Monday, 30 November 2015

November Recap

So, here we are at the end of November. Blimey, that month went quickly! Still no house, but plenty of crafts going on.

The first thing I made this month was, unfortunately, the only thing that involved the sewing machine. It was, in fact, the easiest and speediest sewing I have ever done. It has inspired me to sew more, although this month has been spent planning, rather than sewing anything.

My first make was an eye pillow that I made for my friend's birthday present, as part of a relaxation theme. The tutorial I used was from here, and I used some of my fat quarters for the fabric.

These things are really difficult to capture in photos, but I tried. Front view:

Back view:

I closed up the remaining side on the outside once the pillow was filled (the rest were my usual french seams). Not the neatest thing in the world, but it holds up.

The side view, showing both fabrics. The pillow is filled with dry rice and some lavender from my garden (also dried). It smells amazing. :D
The pillow is roughly 9 inches by 5 inches; I realised too late that I hadn't put any size comparison in the photos.

So my next make is going to look huge in comparison! :)
After making lots of bracelets with wire in October, I moved on to working with elastic. What with this being a busy month, this is the only one I've made so far (more supplies shipping as I type). I'm really pleased with it, and I love the two-tone beads (which are more purple in RL). All components from local shops and stalls, as usual.

Mid-November was all about the big event: my brother's graduation. I was wearing my purple dress, and I wanted to make something to go with it. I had these shamballa beads from the local bead stall, and my aim was to make some jewellery that would help them to stand out.
I couldn't quite get the rich purple to come across in the photo, but I'm really pleased with them. The bottom piece is a bracelet, but I wanted to look at the detail, rather than zooming the photo out to include my usual trigger clasp and the rest of the chain.

And now for something much more eccentric. The event I have been looking forward to since August: Steampunks in Space!!
I really wanted to push myself with this, and I tried to make as much as possible.
This bracelet was originally going to be joined by a lighter chain, but it didn't arrive, and actually I think the jump rings suit it better. It was a bit of a pain to get on and off my wrist, but it looked great over the shirt.

Now, Steampunks in Space was a 'no photography' event, meaning that you could take pictures of your friends and family, but not strangers. Of course, I went on my own. So when I found a mirror in one of the gravity and mass exhibits, I attempted a picture so you can see my armour.
Very blurry and my face is rather serious, but you should be able to see the foam armour on my left (mirror, so it's on the left, and it is my left...) arm, which actually includes sewing! The foam was EVA craft stuff, heat-shaped, then painted with acrylic paint, and finally with elastic sewn on through needle holes to keep it on my arm. Except on the shoulder piece, which I inevitably snapped the elastic on, and had to velcro at the last minute. But I did it! First time I've set myself a really difficult and odd challenge and achieved it. Now let's hope I can manage that with sewing some clothes...

December is mostly centered around Christmas, of course, but if I make things I will endeavour to upload them towards the end of the month, hopefully followed by a rough plan for 2016.

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

October Crafting Summary

We're in the very slow process of buying a house, so things are a bit chaotic, but it turned out that I did make a lot of things in October. For the time being it's easiest for me to summarise what I've made each month. So here is what I made last month:

The Delphine skirt is getting there, and since this photo was taken I've also attached the waistband to it (sorry for the quality of the set up, I might update this with a better picture later):
My next task will be inserting the invisible procrastination skills are in full force, so while I'm finding reasons not to do the hard bit just yet, that doesn't mean I've stopped creating. :)

This is the perfect time of year for making things. I love Autumn, I love Halloween, and I have lots of events and people's birthdays and all sorts happening at the moment.

- First, I went to a workshop at my local bead shop and was taught how to wrap wire, and make loops. I really enjoyed making these, and it's a really calming process, time just flies by.
Two pairs of earrings and three bracelets (one was for my friend for her birthday), not bad for two sessions of work.

- Next up was some more jewellery, but in a specific style. I am a member of the local Steampunk Society, which I'm sure I've mentioned before, and I wanted to make something for one of the meetings. This started out as a bracelet but looked too heavy on my wrist, so after some tweaking and thinking, it turned into this necklace.
I'm so pleased with how it turned out, and lots of people asked about it on the night. That's the first time that's happened and it was such a great feeling.

- Now we're on to Halloween, and I had my first commission! :D
This is a cape I made for my boyfriend's sister out of a sheet. This was my first attempt at making a channel for elastic and I winged it and made it up, as I was away from home and borrowing a sewing kit! I also forgot to take a picture of the full cape, clever me, but you get the idea.
Again I'm really pleased with how it turned out, and it was really theraputic to sew. I still need to work on the neatness of my hand sewing, so this was great practice.
Bonus points for purple, of course. :)

And finally, my favourite. I was dressed as Mrs Lovett for Halloween, and I wanted to make a choker to finish off the outfit. I went shopping for some red blood-like drops, and bought so many that I ended up making earrings too, as you do.
My favourite thing about these is that every single component is from a local independent shop or market stall. This jewellery is 100% Nottingham!

November includes a good couple of events to make things for, including 'Steampunks In Space' at the end of the month, which I am hoping to make foam armour and a plastic jetpack for. I do talk myself into these things...

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Miniature Pattern Drafting

*Warning - Eccentricity contained within*

As I mentioned in the last post, at the end of last month I took a break from sewing my 'Delphine skirt' to attend a Steampunk Festival. This in itself involved a fair bit of creativity; I hand-sewed buttons and cogs onto our outfits, and made a bracelet out of cogs (which I unfortunately lost on the way up the hill).
But my main achievement was something even more eccentric. One of the events was a Teddy Bear's Picnic, something I haven't been to since I was about 5. We love picnics anyway, and had plenty of food to take along. The teddy bear aspect I decided to greet as a challenge. Last year, when I changed jobs, my colleagues bought me an adorable cuddly donkey.

He is so expressive that I haven't found the right name for him yet, so he's still just called Donkey. I wanted to make an outfit for him, and had a tiny top hat lying around, which I bought for Hallowe'en last year, but never wore. All he needed now, my brain decided, was a waistcoat. So what followed was me, scribbling on baking paper, and drafting a tiny waistcoat pattern.

It took three attempts at the back piece (donkey is slightly...wider than I first thought), and two attempts at one of the front pieces, which I then flipped and copied for the other front piece. I put the usual 1.5cm of seam allowance in, and it was a little bit too much because of the reduction in clothing size; duly noted. I drafted it mostly from studying my boyfriend's waistcoats and my assumption of what a waistcoat should look like.

Now, on to the 'fabric'. I am well known for getting attached to things and not wanting to get rid of them. This handbag was a prime example. So well worn that there were holes in it, it was rather faded and just generally old. But perfect for a tiny Steampunk waistcoat, no? It also had the added bonus of having black polyester lining, which was perfect for the back of the waistcoat.

I used the pocket lining for the back, the front of the pocket for one of the front pieces, and the un-damaged part of the back of the bag for the remaining front piece. Did my usual, cut them out with the rotary cutter and pressed them. I managed to do half a French seam on either side seam...and then my sewing machine decided to jam. Again. The night before the Festival.

So, with all of the pieces cut out, pressed and safety-pinned together, I spent the whole train journey there frantically hand-sewing the remaining seams. I finished it with about thirty seconds to spare and I was so pleased with myself! It needed a hidden safety pin to hold the waistcoat shut and a further one to take in the inevitable excess fabric at the back, but we did it.
I think he fitted in quite well! :)

So, things I learnt from this rather eccentric escapade:

- I need to stop cutting extra fabric when cutting round my pattern pieces. It is not going to be small, it is meant to be the size of the pattern. Adding an extra inch because I'm scared of not cutting enough only means that there is an extra inch on the finished item. In donkey's case, this left it looking about 2 sizes too big.

- Drafting a pattern takes multiple efforts, and a lot of editing. It's harder than I thought to get a 3D shape into a 2D pattern, and then back to a 3D shape. I'm glad that I was able to practice with this before trying to draft something for myself!

- I definitely shouldn't try to make something the day before I need it, especially with my machine. The old thing needs time to be set up properly, and to reset the tension, which I am fast realising has to be done every time I want to use it.

- I need to unpick the side seams, trim off the excess fabric, and redo them. Which I'm glad I can do at least, I would rather it be too much fabric than too little. Then I can add buttons and a proper buckle/cinch on the back.

But before I do that, I really should finish this skirt...

Sunday, 30 August 2015

Making a Delphine, part 1

My first piece of clothing is going to be a Delphine skirt, from Tilly Walnes' "Love At First Stitch" book. I'm making it out of this lovely green linen/cotton blend; and for anyone who has seen or heard of the musical Wicked, you should be able to see why I keep calling it the Elphie skirt...that and the exaggerated a-line shape should 'defy gravity', if all goes to plan. :D
After washing, ironing and folding (which took far longer than it should do, but I do like to procrastinate), it was time to cut out the fabric pieces. I felt so nervous at this point. I still need to get used to that feeling of cutting into fabric and transforming it into something. At the moment, it still feels a bit like I'm cutting it up, rather than cutting into it.
The rotary cutter was a very worthwhile purchase, I find it so much easier to cut with than my scissors. I traced the Tilly and the Buttons pattern onto baking paper (my tracing paper was a bit small), pinned that onto the fabric, and cut out the pieces with my rotary cutter. It seemed to work fairly well, but I'm sure there are other ways of doing it. Any suggestions of a preferred method, or any hints and tips for cutting out, would be most welcome.

This is how the skirt looks now it's cut out (waistband not pictured, I've added the interfacing to that and it needs pinning and sewing together). It's not entirely perfect, but it's the best I've done, and progress is what I try to aim for, rather than perfection.
Since taking this picture, I've sewn the first part of the side seams, so it's looking slightly more finished now. I thought French seams would be perfect for this skirt, firstly because it's the only seams my machine can do, and secondly because it's a pattern with a French name, so it seems strange not to! :)

Progress on the skirt will be halted this weekend, as I'm going to a Steampunk festival tomorrow (Bank Holiday Monday) and I have lots of hand sewing to do before we go. My Victorian costume is finished, but I still need to sew some cogs onto my boyfriend's outfit and I have a waistcoat to make for my teddy, for the teddy bear's picnic. First pattern drafting I've ever done, and the whole thing is about 3 inches squared, haha. So I'm still sewing like mad today!

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Sewing Machine Cover - WIP

I've been working slowly on the sewing machine cover for the past few weekends, because I realised that I'll be looking at it so much that I'll want it to be right. So far, the plan seems to be working! The pattern matching along the top isn't perfect, but this was my first attempt at it and after the third go at unpicking and re-sewing it because it was 2mm out, I paid attention to the Voltaire quote on my noticeboard: "don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good". I love that quote.

So, the sewing machine cover is to go over the 'coffin lid' box that houses the Singer 28k; mostly to protect the wood from sunlight and wear, and also because my boyfriend doesn't like it (can't blame him, it is rather imposing). This is what it looks like, for anyone unfamiliar with it:

And here it is with the cover on at the moment. And now I can see it's not on quite straight in this photo, but you get the idea.
You might notice that the bottom inch is left uncovered, and that's because that belongs to the actual sewing machine base, so when the lid is removed, the cover will go down to the bottom of that, and won't get crushed under it on the floor.
The cover is made out of 3 fat quarters from Hobbycraft, one for each long side, and two smaller pieces from the final quarter for each end. I interfaced both of the larger pieces to give the cover strength and thickness, and did a french seam to attach the two pieces at the top, along the tape measure section of the design. Of course, despite taking tens of photos, I forgot to get one of that bit.

The bits I haven't done yet are the awkward angles at the top of the ends as you can see here, and the holes for the handles to go through. I'll need to get the handles free, as the machine is heavy and I can't lift it without them; for the time being I'm removing the cover to move the machine (it took a lot of effort to wiggle one handle free to get this second picture).
I'm hoping that my brain is unconsciously thinking on the logistics of these two tasks, because at the moment I'm leaving it until I feel ready. I want it to be right, and I can't think of a way to make the holes for the handles without the fabric fraying; no zigzag stitch on this machine.

One thing I'm really pleased with is the bias binding round the bottom, which was so much better than on my last project, my gardening apron. Although I like to do the best I can, it always makes me happy to see improvement in my sewing.
I added white bias binding all the way round, backstitching at the ends of each section, in case I went wrong and needed to unpick it. With the amount of times I unpicked the join at the top of the cover, I wasn't about to unpick the whole lot of bias binding! But luckily, none of it went wrong. I am definitely learning the value of taking my time, I really enjoyed making sure I was doing it right (amazingly, despite putting my pins in back to front!).
Also, how adorable is this fabric? I have two smaller sections of it left that I cut from the length, so hopefully I can think of something to make with them.

And finally, I mentioned I was having a craft weekend with my best friend last week. As well as doing a lot of the work above, we also went shopping at Hobbycraft (obviously) and the amazing local vintage emporium, Hopkinson. Here's my purchases for the weekend, along with my internet buys, too.
I couldn't resist the printed card A with the dresses on for 30p (which you can't see very well because it's white, clever me), that's going on my wall!
The green zip and vintage pattern were from Hopkinson, and I was so, so pleased to find this pattern! I can't wait to make all of these. At £1 for four possible skirt styles it was an absolute bargain.
Of course, the green zip and Gutermann thread were meant to go with the fabric on the right, but I was silly and bought them before the fabric arrived in the post. I had the wrong green in my head, apparently. But not to worry, I have a fraying bottle green dress that the thread matches perfectly to, so it'll still be used. And that gives me an excuse to go to Hobbycraft again to buy more thread, heehee.
The two zipper feet for my Singer are there too, one adjustable and one invisible. I love the fact that the invisible zipper foot is see-through plastic and therefore invisible itself. A lot of the projects on my 'to make' list feature zips, and it's something I really want to practice. The purple zips are the same as the feet, one invisible and one not.
The disappearing fabric pen has already been used extensively on the sewing machine cover, and it's purple too, which is always a plus with me, obviously.
Which leaves the green fabric to be used in my next project... :)

Monday, 20 July 2015

The Turn of the Singer part 2 - aka 'Name That Foot!'

I haven't made anything in a week or so because this week I have a crafting weekend planned with my best friend, so I'm saving projects up to work on then. There should be at least a few things for me to share next week, so watch this space.

In the mean time, I have finally tackled the contents of the accessories drawer, hooray! Hopefully this should be a guide to what's what, or at least what it looks like, for people who are unfamiliar with it all, like me.

When I first got the machine, I checked everything that was with it, was amazed and terrified by all the complicated metal contraptions in the drawer, and promptly shut it again. I keep the bobbins in there, and the spare needles, but have been avoiding all of the extra feet...until now.

So, amazingly, this is a part of the Singer 28k that I haven't photographed yet! Under the hand crank is the accessories drawer; the lid slides open to reveal a handy storage space.
Along with the easily identified things, was all this:
Sorry, it all looks rather surgical on my white table, but you get the idea.

So, from what I've now researched, I think I've got these right (please correct me if I'm wrong, I'll be happy to amend).
One binder and four hemmers. I'm assuming the binder is the one on the left. The binder would probably have been useful (if confusing at first) for the binding on the garden apron. And the hemmers will definitely come in handy.

A ruffler. I'm still working out exactly what each bit does, but here's what I found today: The little screw towards the top right adjusts the width of the ruffles, and it works on mine. I can see where it attaches to the machine on the left, and where the material goes underneath. I think the exact workings will make sense when I see it in action.

Quilter on the left, seam guide (with screw) on the right. Both nice and easy to work out, and after a quick use of Google, I suddenly spotted the holes next to the slide plate for the seam guide to go in. Again, this is going to be very helpful!

And a tuckmarker. for marking tucks and that's all I can tell. Google isn't helping much on this one tonight, so it's still baffling me. Any help would be appreciated.

So, I've named them all, and worked out a bit about what they do. I'll attach them to the machine and test them out when I have a bit more spare time. Now I need to go and buy the zipper foot and invisible zipper foot I was actually looking for originally, haha...

Saturday, 4 July 2015

Gardening Apron and Deliveries

This has been a great week.

Firstly, lots of things arrived in the post (and I love getting orders delivered in the post):
- My copy of 'Love At First Stitch', which poor Royal Mail have been trying to deliver to me for about a month and a half. I started reading it as soon as it arrived, and I already love it!
- A rotary cutter, to stop me cutting wobbly lines with my scissors (in theory, anyway).
- The amazing and adorable purple dinosaur fabric from the Natural History collection by Lizzy House. Purple and dinosaurs, together, in one fabric. It's pretty much my ideal pattern.
And yesterday, my colleague gave me the ruler you can see at the top of the picture. It belonged to her Mum, so I was really humbled that she gave it to me, and I now have someone else's heirloom alongside my own, which is lovely. It'll also make measuring things a heck of a lot easier than using my 30cm ruler!

The second reason that this has been a great week is that my sewing machine was fixed. It's been having problems with tension, so I gave it a clean, then realised a lot of the tension problems came from having too long a stitch length.

The manual for the Singer 28k says that to shorten the stitch length, you turn the screw 'outwards'. I took this to mean clockwise, towards the hand wheel. After a couple of days of trying it, getting confused, then comparing the different stitches, I realised that I had assumed wrong. Unfortunately, after I'd had this revelation, the screw on mine became stuck; on 4mm stitches, too! I tried turning it, with no luck; but after getting my boyfriend to help, carefully turning it with the wrench, it moved and can now be turned by hand again.
So, to summarise: to shorten the stitch length on a 28k, turn the screw anti-clockwise. To lengthen it, turn clockwise. It might take a bit of effort, like it did on mine!

And finally, this week was finished off perfectly because I finally made my gardening apron! I've been wanting to make this for ages, since I first saw this tutorial on the Hobbycraft blog. Here is my finished apron:
And here it is modelled by me, with some of my gardening tools in. I opted for three pockets and lengthened them too so that I would be able to carry my forks, trowels and other tools in it, and it worked! It even fits my new gloves in, too.
So I am very happy this weekend, despite the heatwave we're having in England. Hopefully next I'll be attempting a headscarf/headband, and then after that the plan is to make the cover for my sewing machine and its 'coffin lid' box. Although I do also have plans for a bag, too, so we'll see what happens. :)

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

The Start of the Big Clean

Did you ever do something you were really proud of, then learn something new and look back on it with new eyes?
I was so pleased with my last post, and there's no way I'll be editing it. However, one thing has come to light that has made me look again at my pictures. The dust and oil!

Having got the thread I needed (amazingly, I ran out of purple), I was trying to sew my current project last week, but was having tension problems with the Singer. No matter how much I turned the screw, the tension on the top thread was far too tight. I battled with it for a bit, then did as I've been told by a lot of people; walked away and had a cup of tea, and then went to youtube.

And it turns out that the tension problems were most definitely due to the poor old machine needing a good clean. I'm aiming to clean it in stages and take my time to do it properly, so I've only looked at the tension discs so far, but they needed looking at the most. It's no wonder the machine was struggling, the tension spring had got stuck to the metal plate! It looks like the oil used on it last time had just stuck them together, so the tension was essentially stuck, too. Nothing a few cotton buds couldn't sort out, but I need some metal polish to finish the job properly.

Once I'd started learning, I was amazed by how much of the machine can be cleaned, and suddenly saw my machine in a new light. I also realised how much of it can be removed and then reassembled once it's clean. There was me viewing it as a solid mass that shouldn't be tampered with. The more I learn about this machine, the more I'm humbled by how amazingly well made it is. So the plan now is to clean it in stages, taking pictures where I can, then (or possibly simultaneously) finish making my garden apron, which I will also post pictures of as soon as it's done. At the minute, it looks like two fat quarters and a pinned-on piece of bias binding.

But I do have something to share today. We went on holiday to Weymouth last week and went into the Brewers Quay Emporium. There was so much lovely stuff in there, and I bought the most amazing selection of buttons I've ever seen. Aren't they gorgeous?
It's purchases like these that make me want to get sewing, so I can make something to attach them to! :D I have plans, and I'm really excited to get learning and sewing.

Friday, 5 June 2015

The Turn of the Singer

At the moment I'm waiting for some sewing books and fabric to arrive in the post, so while I'm in a bit of a sewing lull, I thought it'd be a nice idea to take the opportunity to look at the antique sewing machine I'm using in more detail. I wouldn't be sewing much without it, after all!

Rose, as I've been calling my machine, is a Singer 28k from 1908, and in pretty near to perfect condition, as you can see.

When I was given the Singer, my first thought was along the lines of 'oh my gosh, it's perfect, it's really old, wrap it in cotton wool, I'm going to break it'. Not so. The Singer is a beautiful machine, I can't mention this enough...but it is also very capable, well made and nigh on unbreakable.

I am a beginner, I'm right at the early stages of having a go and realising I'm doing something wrong 9 times out of 10. My machine has been wonderful. Every time I've got thread wrapped around itself, it's been easy to pull it out, sort it, then start again. If the thread tension is too tight or loose, it's one dial to turn, and it's sorted.

It only does one basic stitch, so I'm not confronted with tens of dials and too many choices (I am rubbish at making decisions, as will soon become apparent). Now, I've seen this mentioned as a draw back of having an antique or vintage machine, but seriously, everything I've made or wanted to make so far has needed one simple straight stitch, which is exactly what this machine does. For a beginner, it's perfect.

Not to mention the fact that with a handcrank machine, you regulate your own speed. When I studied textiles at school, I was given the nickname of 'speedy' by my teacher. I see a foot pedal and I jam my foot on it at top speed. Not the best idea for sewing in a nice, straight, calm line (or for the one attempt I had at trying to learn to drive, incidentally). A handcrank machine goes at the speed of your arm; I find it instantly relaxing, and so far I seem to automatically go slowly and steadily with my arm.

The funny thing is, I'm not sure how I thought I could break it. The machine is 107 years old (again, I can't mention this enough), so obviously it's built to last. It didn't get this far by being breakable. The only sign of damage on my machine is to the bobbin winding wheel, from over-use. It's worn down to an oval and will need replacing at some point, when I'm a bit more experienced with these things.

Even the decals are all still here, albeit slightly faded or chipped in some cases. But to me, the wear and ageing is what makes each machine unique. I love so many of the details on this machine, and every time I get it out of the box, I smile.

Everyone I've spoken to has said that it's much better for it to be used for what it was made to do, than to sit in the attic gathering dust. Now that it's out of the attic, it's never going back. If anyone has an old machine that they're not sure about, or has seen one somewhere and thought they might like it, I say go for it! Use it, you'll love it.

And if anyone has any questions on vintage or antique Singer sewing machines, I'll do my best to answer, or to offer a link to a video or blog who has answered the query. I'm only a beginner, after all. :)

Thursday, 4 June 2015


Hopefully this should be a Sticky Post at the top of the blog, if it's worked. :)

This post is a Work In Progress, and as I go along I'm hoping to add resources, helpful sites, and anything on the internet that I've found useful, whether it's to do with the Singer machine, or with sewing itself.

*Please Note* If you see a link to your site here and you're not happy with that, please let me know and I'll remove it. Likewise, if there is a really helpful site I've missed, let me know and I'll take a look. I'm here to learn, after all.

Monday, 25 May 2015

My First Completed Project - The Bow Belt

Hello! It's been a while since my last post, I wanted to wait until I'd actually done some sewing so that I had something to share.

A few weeks ago, I came across this adorable bow belt tutorial on Tilly and the Buttons (blog of Tilly Walnes from GBSB1 who is brilliant and who makes me want to sew something every time I see a new post). As soon as I saw this belt, I knew I needed to make one because:
- It's adorable
- I had the perfect dress in mind for it, complete with currently empty belt-loops
- The process involved practice with interfacing, which I've never used before
- It's got 3 easy pattern pieces, with simple and easy to follow instructions; perfect for a beginner

So, today was sewing day. My fabric arrived last week, I procrastinated for 3 days about how to wash and iron it, then this morning I set about making the belt. Here's the finished piece:
A close up of the bow, because it worked and I am still amazed at it. I made this bow! :D
And here it is on one of my favourite dresses, the one I'd planned to wear the belt with. Big sigh of relief, it fits into the belt loops and it fits me, hooray! I'm very pleased that I got my measurements right first time, it's comfortable and sits nicely.
Sorry for the slightly mannequin-like photo, I've got a cold and it's late...I may also have been struggling with my camera's 2 second timer which I was using for the first time haha.

I am really pleased with myself, the belt came out really well and it looks just how I wanted it to. And now for a few notes because, as usual, I learnt a heck of a lot while making this belt!

1. It took all day. I loved it, and I planned for it, but I did need to set aside a whole day to work on it properly, and to allow for things to go wrong. And for tea and biscuit breaks, of course.

2. I am rubbish at cutting patterns out, and especially at cutting in a straight line. Number one purchase for tomorrow is a giant pair of scissors! However, I made alterations to the sizing to make the belt thinner and that worked perfectly, so successes as well as struggles at the pattern cutting stage.

3. I need a thinner cloth for the top of my interfacing application. The interfacing mostly stuck, but it came unstuck again when I was turning the belt the right way round. Incidentally, turning the belt the right way round took a lot longer because I'd altered it to be thinner; but it was worth the extra time.

4. The thread tension on my Singer changes between every use at the moment, and needs to be checked. Whether this is age, or the fact it needs cleaning, or where I'm storing it, I'm not sure. But this rather horrified me the first time I tried to stitch the belt:
This scary mess was my bobbin thread. I'd put the bobbin in the shuttle the wrong way round, and the tension on the shuttle was, understandably for a 107 year old machine, a bit loose.
Lesson learnt with that one, but at least I got to sit with my boyfriend and watch wrestling while I unpicked this monster.
Also, sorry about the seams at this stage, they needed a lot more careful cutting later.

5. At this early stage of learning to sew, I will be using the unpicker a lot. Most of today's unpicking was because the machine tension was wrong. It got very frustrating, but I kept going and managed to fix it, with help from another wonderful Lizzie Lenard tutorial. That's another thing to remember. If I'm struggling with something, chances are that someone else has encountered the same thing and knows how to fix it.

6. I took my time and it worked. There were hair-grabbing moments, there were times when I walked away and ate a biscuit until I calmed down, but the moment when I walked in the room wearing my favourite dress and a belt I'd made that day will stay with me forever. I am so, so pleased with myself. First sewing piece made!

And finally. Last week while I was waiting for my fabric to arrive, I organised my sewing boxes. One of the biggest tasks was sorting through my stash of ribbon. Despite knowing I own 'too much ribbon', I was still amazed by just how much there is when I laid it all out!

Even sorted by colour there's still a lot of it. I'm sure I'll find a use for it all someday...right? It's all so pretty. :)