At last week’…

23 May

this is the pinafore dress we started with before we took the seams in and altered it

At last week’s class Mary brought in a crimplene pinafore dress to alter.  It is dark green, with princess line seams, giving opportunity to alter on all the seam lines.  Basically Mary just needs to take it in – particularly at the waist.  First thing to do is to try it on the right way and consider the fit before turning it inside out and taking it in a little at each seam at the waist and tapering it off towards the armhole and hip area.

crimplene dress 2

trying the dress on to establish where it needs to be taken in and understand how it fits

Once this is done and checked again I realised that it had previously been taken in.  Now that the fit is more or less right I need to look at the seams as they are frequently bulky from all the previous stitching- reduce the bulk, even out the appearance and press.  Hopefully this will be sufficient and the pinafore dress is altered and finished.

The dress tacked and machine sewn then tried on the right way. It is ready to be carefully looked at for the fit and smoothness of the alteration. I’ve identified areas where there is bulky stitching from previous alterations and poor adaptation at the hem.

Last night someone had a 44”man’s fair isle jumper that had dramatically shrunk in the wash to a small child’s size.  Due to the felting it is very thick and there are plans now to make a bag using the collar as a feature.


Berninas, free machine embroidery and upcycling

4 May

Image of free machine embroidery

This work was enhanced by the good use of background material and it was a successful time using their own machine.

In class this morning I looked at the opportunity that free machine embroidery could give to upcycling and I’m getting quite excited!  I know that my new Bernina will be reliable and supportive to learners and so that is a good basis.  They used the class machine and then transferred that confidence to their own machine.  I’ve put an image above of one piece of work done by a complete novice this morning!  She greatly enjoyed the time.

This morning has inspired me to look at other ways in which free machine embroidery can be used and help with upcycling.  

I’ve 2 other images with recent work from classes that I can show you.



Image of pieced cushion

This person was initially cautious and lacking in confidence over their colour choice. As a result in the group we discussed colour possibilities and how to approach colour selection. By the time we saw this piece it had changed a little again. What a success! The quilting was done using an old flanalette sheet and is a beautiful piece of work. The back has the green striped fabric pieced together with the stripes running in different ways, as there was insufficient fabric and top stitched to hold in place and make a feature of this.












The centre of this cushion was a sample piece. This was extended by a wide border of blue linen which is an ideal way to use a favoured piece that is not quite big enough! Around the edge is piping (actually its an old sheet but you would never know!) The sucess of this work lies in its simplicity, colour use and pattern combination.

Expensive afternoon

10 Mar

It proved to be an expensive afternoon!  I’d realised in the last few days that my little Elna Lotus’s would not go on forever.  One of them was my main machine for 25 years.   They had served me well but I needed to go shopping.  I was able to ask again at Bamber’s in Manchester about the rules for sewing machine purchase and my thoughts were confirmed.  In general the rule that you get what you pay for is true and then you have hassle free sewing.


My needs are a little different for classes as I need a machine that is robust, will cope with different materials from light to heavy weight, straight forward to help people learn and will serve me for a long time.  I also wanted a walking foot as that will allow some exciting things to be looked at.  I’ve come home with a Bernina!  It is a 1008, a good solid machine, much used in colleges and schools, and I’m sure it will serve me well -in fact I’m certain I will be able to sell it for a good price in the future.



a library visit

25 Feb

I was going to write next about using a misprinted length of fabric but that will have to wait!  I got a really interesting book out of the library.  It’s called Signature Styles and looks at 20 people who enjoy crafts and create an individual look through their activities.  As each artist has a website and maybe a blog, I’m going to really enjoy looking at these.  They seem to be mainly in the US but maybe they are just a bit ahead of us.  It will be good to see how they have arrived at what they are doing today and manage to make it work.  There does seem to be a lot more activity in the States but this can help us get busy here!

That library visit was profitable as I also picked up a book by Beth Baumgartel on sewing techniques. I looked up and learnt that she is the Editor of Threads, which is a sewing magazine for quite experienced stitchers, and she is very knowledgeable.  The new technique books are interesting for me to see how things are being presented and also to learn a bit more.  It’s reminded me of a few things and I can think of different ways of doing a technique and put into practice.   There is also an excellent section on mending and repairing, adjusting and altering clothes which I am going to study and investigate.  It will be very useful for my work on darning which is the stitch I chose for my Mainly Stitch project this year.  We’ve just heard that we might have an opportunity to exhibit later this year.

Learning a lot

14 Feb

I realised that I was unhappy with the fit of a blue dress.  I liked the dress and in particular the fabric as I knew that it had been printed by Anokhi who hand print fabric just outside of Jaipur in India. A seam cut across the bust area, was uncomfortable and didn’t make me feel the best.  Fortunately the dress was a bit long and so I took off the stripy addition at the hem ( technically a faced hem) cut off a 2” strip and replaced the hem bit.


Next I undid the seam and gradually added a shaped bit to give me more fabric under the bust.  This bit was tedious and long winded!


I feel a sense of satisfaction and now I need to look at other things.  A tweet drew my attention to FBA which I had forgotten about. This stands for Full Bust Adjustment and I’m pleased.  Over the years my body shape has changed and I have got out of the habit of tackling demanding things when I haven’t had time, consequently I have a severe shortage of dresses!

Earlier in the week I sat with a copy of my pattern, paper, sellotape and scissors in front of the computer screen and followed the instructions.  Then I cut the front and back bodice out in old fabric, stitched together and tried on – I might need to make it a bit longer – but it fitted and I’m busy planning my dress.  


The brown paper is the original pattern with the white inserts additions that make it fit me and the fabric at the bottom left the ‘toile’ that is old fabric just cut out in the pattern shape to make sure that it fits me.

The web is so useful!

23 Jan

It is only recently that I’ve begun to use the internet as a resource.  Well I’ve only just begun teaching again, so I’m finding it useful and also very interesting.  I have been able to find out so much that is happening in the sustainable world of textiles.  I’ve discovered a working model of how a machine stitch is made, a very comprehensive list of many of the online fabric sellers and through infrequent tweets learnt about FBA! 

FBA stands for Full Bust Adjustment and is necessary for a fuller bust area as most patterns are designed for a B cup size.  Already I’ve copied out the pattern I wish to alter (with the help of the printer and sellotape) and then I will adjust the copy pattern and cut out in old fabric to hopefully ensure a good fit.

Last weekend I did a workshop on using beads and sequins and here are several pieces of work from that event.



Looking forward

9 Jan

Looking forward

It’s one thing encouraging people to make do and mend and another to put it into practice! I realised that a dress that I like but wasn’t completely happy with the fit needed attention and so yesterday I removed the faced hem (the stripy bit) and today cut 3″ offt the length and have added the hem back onto the dress. It didn’t fit around the bust area – with an uncomfortable seam – so now I have enough material to put in to make it bigger. I must complete it soon otherwise I won’t have a comfortable summer dress!