Archive | May, 2013

When life gives you lemons…sew!

30 May

I had the most awesome weekend of sewing and sewing-related productivity. It wasn’t always the plan, there were a couple of exciting possibilities going on over the weekend – a climbing trip down to the south coast, and a Capoeira event in Wales. In fact there were too many exciting options for the bank holiday that we couldn’t decide what to – I also just felt like chilling out at home, but didn’t want to miss out on things going on!

In the end the decision was made for us when my boyfriend hurt his back, and crazy sports were out of the question! Although a bit sad on missing out, I was secretly delighted about having the opportunity to have a lie in, and get some serious sewing done!

I’m partway through a beginners’ dressmaking course, and for various reasons, we haven’t got a class for a couple of weeks. In the last class, I sewed the first seam in my dress (Simplicity 1803), and that was me well and truly bitten by the sewing bug! I kept working on my dress over the weekend – I kept getting to points where I thought I was stuck, and that I’d need to wait until the next class to get some help on it – sewing the princess seams was the first one, but I tried one, and was ecstatic when it worked! Various instructions on the pattern had me stumped for a while, but I went away and thought about them, and managed to work most of them out. I’ve now pretty much finished the bodice, and the skirt is all sewn up too, but I’m going to wait until the next class now, so that I can get some help fitting it, but I’m delighted with how it looks so far! I was so keen to sew more on Monday that I actually got up early (ok, at a decent time), and cracked on with my to-do list of other things (I was 6 items down by the time the boyfriend woke up an hour later) so that I would have more time to sew!

I also managed to get some other bits done at the weekend – I made myself this little preserving jar pin cushion, which is something I’ve been meaning to do for a while, started this blog, and spent a decent amount of time ogling patterns online, trying to decide on my next project.

Preserving jar pin cushion IMG_0005

In my quest to have some more patterns to play with, I took a little wander along to our nearest shops, where there happens to be a nice little concentration of charity shops. I got this lovely fabric, in the form of a large sheet and a couple of pillow cases, for £3, and also picked up a few patterns for bargain prices – none of them had any out, but when I asked, two of the six had a bag in the back that they let me rummage through. Pretty happy with my little haul, trying to decide what to make with the fabric, maybe something along the lines of this lovely peasant style top – I LOVE the name of her blog as well!

Top? Skirt? Dress? So many options!

Top? Skirt? Dress? So many options!

Now I’m just looking forward to next weekend, when I’m heading to Walthamstow market with a friend to discover what’s on offer there…and attempt not to buy *too* much…I have a few projects in mind to look for fabric for, and want to stock up on some useful things like zips and buttons, but I’m going to try and restrain myself!



26 May

At some point last year, as I was walking down a road, on my way to a little second hand furniture store to try and find myself a wardrobe and bedside table, I heard someone call out my name. I eventually located the source of the voice to one of my former colleagues, who was in her garden on the other side of the road. I went in for a cup of tea and we spent a couple of hours catching up. She told me about a council-run dressmaking course that she was doing, and that was the start of something.

A few months previously, having been inspired by things that three different friends had sewn (some bunting at a wedding – made by the bride, along with her dress and jewellery, a doorstop made by the lovely Marion – this is the least of what she is capable of, but was just about within my skills, I hoped, and an amazing patchwork quilt, made by the very talented Kate), I’d decided that I wanted to start sewing. I thrown myself into trying to procure a second hand sewing machine with the enthusiasm I usually throw myself into things with (head first, becoming completely preoccupied with the idea and thinking of little else), found one on eBay, picked it up and brought it home…and then it sat there for months, untouched. I just wasn’t sure what to do with it. While I engage in a few ‘creative’ pursuits, I don’t think I’ve ever been a really naturally creative person – I have to have instructions to follow – I love baking, and cooking in general, but the idea of making up a recipe, or just playing it by ear, terrifies me. I’m getting better, but I still prefer to follow a recipe almost to the letter.

The inspiration that was the wedding bunting!

The inspiration that was the wedding bunting! It was beautiful!

Evidently what I needed to get me started on my sewing was some projects to compete, and just some guidance on where to start. I came home from my cup of tea and catch up, immediately looked up local sewing courses, and within an hour had booked myself onto a beginners’ course.

My previous sewing experience was limited – I made a patchwork quilt on my Granny’s old hand-turn when I was about 10, and made a cushion at school, although remember nothing about how I did it! Initially, all my enthusiasm for sewing was about homewares – I had no interest at all in making clothes, largely, I think, because it just seemed like something so above my level that I couldn’t imagine myself ever being able to sew something like a dress! Making the above mentioned doorstop was the height of my ambition!

I write that now being halfway through a dressmaking course, and about to go and do more work on my first dress! How things change. Even on these first few projects, I’ve had so much help and inspiration from reading other people’s sewing blogs – from finding tutorials for things I want to make, to looking up pictures of other people’s finished versions to decide what pattern to choose, and discovering issues with certain patterns before I start making the dress, they’ve been invaluable in the start of my sewing adventure. So I thought I’d post my projects too, if they can be of help to anyone else then great, but for me, it’s a handy record of my progress and past projects, all in one place.

So let the adventure begin!

chinelo bally

Dressmaker| Author| Blogger| Freehand cutter


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