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. :)

Monday, 11 May 2015

More heirlooms and procrastination

This weekend, I received another heirloom from my parents' attic of treasures. This is one of many sewing boxes in their house, they have about 5 or 6 as most of the women in my family have enjoyed sewing, but this was a box I hadn't seen before. It has been commented that it looks a bit like a snake charmer's basket, but inside were all sorts of wonderful random things.

Monday, 4 May 2015

Some Basics and Lots of Learning

Mid-way through my first sewing attempt last weekend, the bobbin ran out of thread. After a few attempts over the past week at re-threading the shuttle and being frustrated with the bobbin thread not catching, I finally realised what I was doing wrong. I need to hold the top thread while I move the hand wheel, then the bottom thread will come up. Dear me, I spent far too long staring at it moving while it didn't work and the loose threads moved round! On the plus side, I'll definitely remember how to do that in future.

So now I've got it working again I got some practice stitching done, using this youtube tutorial, strangely enough by another Amy! The finished results are below. On the left is last week's practice, pivoting round corners and getting my lines straight. On the right is partly last week's work, up until the bobbin ran out in the middle, then finished this morning once I'd got it going again.
It might look simple but it actually involved a lot more work than meets the eye. During the process of stitching these, I re-wound the bobbin, I changed the needle (and then changed it back to the old one), I changed the upper tension to stop the fabric bunching (which it did a lot of on the left piece), then back a bit to stop it skipping stitches. I also changed the stitch length very minutely to make sure the dial still worked, and got my speed up to about double what it was when I first started. Phew!

So, after finishing the straight stitching and testing everything I could think of on the machine, today I also managed a french seam on my practice fabric, using this youtube tutorial from Lizzie Lenard. I love her voice, she makes everything sound clear and practical.
I managed this on the second attempt; the first time the tension was too loose and it skipped too many stitches. The front of the work is above, and the back below. The pattern matching isn't perfect, but it's my first practice seam, so I'm happy.

I'm pleased with the progress I've made and I keep trying to remind myself that I need to practice all this before I dive headlong into complicated projects. The amount of complications and adjustments that I needed to learn about just on these practice pieces have reminded me to take small steps, and learn about the machine fully while I'm trying things out, rather than ruining something because I'm not ready to sew it yet.

So, what to do next...back to youtube, I think. :)