Friday, 2 December 2016

73: Red coat Part 1

Well I want to make this coat which I put the pattern together to make in January whilst knitting Shaun the Sheep for my friends son. http://brackencrafts.blogspot.co.uk/2016/01/shaun-sheep-toy-and-other-things.html

It took absolutely ages because there were loads of sheets of A4 to tape together. Then I made loads of small projects, mostly tops and never got round to making the jacket. Well I suppose it took so long to stick it together lost interest. Well I no longer, right now anyway, want to make the peplum jacket which is what I bought the pattern for but I do want to make the coat which is 12/2012#104


104_1212_b_large

I have this textured upholstery fabric. It is actually bright red but for some reason I am having problems taking decent photos of it! Anyway this shows the texture quite well. Its a velvet type of fabric of unknown fibre but should be warm and Christmasey.

 

Well that is assuming I ever get back my sewing table. My other half is currently trying to sort out the plaster that fell off when I removed the wallpaper from the lounge walls. With Christmas just weeks away he is working very hard to do this. Just so you understand he is not a plasterer and has never done this before. He is doing his best but the downside is I have stuff (TV, stereo etc) that needs looking after all over what I use as my sewing table so it is not looking very hopeful that I will actually get any sewing whatsoever done this week at least and to be quite honest if I get my table back before Christmas it will be a small miracle.

I have cut out my coat bits and you can just about see they are red in this photo:


All I need is space to get them sewn up.
I have chosen this lightweight polyester fabric for the lining which should be quite nice I think.



So what I really want right now in all the world is to be able to get on with making this so I can wear it in time for Christmas!

I was actually planning a skirt made from the same fabric but I reckon my chances of that are virtually nil until the house is done!
Thanks for visiting
Bracken

Friday, 25 November 2016

72: The November Monthly Stitch challenge - Shoes!


Well I just could not resist this months The Monthly Stitch Challenge. This challenge consists, if you do not know, of making an outfit or item of clothing to go with a favourite pair of shoes. My particular shoes are virtually unworn but about 12 years old since I have never really got anything to wear them with. I also tend not to wear heels regardless of fashion. I really love these shoes though so ended up with two dresses.


I made this dress from the offcuts of the last dress posted here:


This dress is based loosely on a Burda paper pattern 7148
Image result for young burda sweatshirt and dress pattern

I added a black fabric due to not quite having enough of the leopard print one. The bits of leopard print also do not all have the same direction since they are just bits left over from my other dress. The black trim is some kind of stretch lycra, heavy weight, ribbed fabric (that is a mistake as well!) that was in my stash.
Neck band with elastic to pull it in



My leopard print pocket edges
I used this for the neck band and hood lining and for the pocket because I did not have enough of the leopard print for the pocket. I am not a fan of pocket-less hoodies. Then I added a leopard trim to the edge of the pockets. I am not so sure it needed this but I did it anyway.



 Well tbh it is really quite a disaster! I intended to make the top but found after sewing it all up with my overlocker (so there was no easy unpicking! ) that I had somehow actually made the dress. Not the end of the world that though.

So what is wrong?

I couldn't understand the instructions so the neck does not look at all like the picture says it should. Mine has the hood attached to the neckline with an inner band made of black ribbed fabric. I did not bother adding a pull cord to the neck since everything else kind of went wrong.

The inner neck band was too big though so I added 1" elestic. Its not tight even now but does not gape at the back the way it did without the elastic. The hood I lined with the same fabric as the neckband and the pocket.


Well, besides the print going in two different directions which is actually not realy noticable probably to anyone but me, the neck gaping and me having to use elastic to pull it in, the pockets edges are not identical and the hood lining makes it a bit heavy.

Thats not actually so bad but it could have been better. The hood is not central on the neck edge - how I managed that I do not know because I definitely measured it all and pinned into place before sewing!


And finally the skirt is a little tight. Or perhaps figure hugging is the word I wanted.

Well its a nice little dress but really I was after a hoody to wear with my jeans or leggings. Never mind. Despite all these problems I suspect I will wear this quite a bit cos it has "something" about it I actually genuinely like.

It does go well with my boots too.

And in the end, I have in the past, spent a lot of money in High Street stores that are quite expensive and bought worse clothing than this dress so I suppose despite it all, it is a success. So I got two dresses for the price of one!
Thanks for reading
Bracken






Thursday, 24 November 2016

Femininity

Theresa May and Nicola Sturgeon on the steps on Bute House
Theresa May and Nicola Sturgeon on the steps of Bute House


 I just read this article and it really struck a cord with me. Love the sentiment!

http://www.elleuk.com/life-and-culture/news/a32697/femininity-shouldnt-simply-be-the-opposite-of-the-stereotypes-we-apply-to-men/?utm_source=email&utm_medium=note_A&utm_campaign=elle_notes_newsletter&utm_source=crm&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=ELLE_N_20161123_WeeklyNewsletterV2&utm_content=na&utm_term=na


"To all women, young and old, my message is this: speak up, challenge attitudes and call out discrimination, celebrate our collective and individual achievements, inspire and encourage those around you."

I am not really a fan of either of these politicians but as Nicola Sturgeon so rightly says this is an image that all women and young girls should take to heart and use as inspiration.


"In the 21st century, femininity should be about the power of women to determine our own lives, to change society and to achieve our dreams, whether we do that in heels or flats, bikinis or burkinis, in the home, in a science lab or even in a parliament."

We as women and girls can do anything!

Thanks for reading
Bracken

Monday, 21 November 2016

71:The November Monthly Stitch challenge - Shoes!


I just had to make something to go with these leopard print boots, I have owned them I believe for around 12 years and only worn once or maybe twice.

 I had some difficulty deciding exactly what to make but in the end settled on this dress from Burda. I actually traced this pattern back in the spring when I got a bit obsessd with raglan tops. I never got round to actually making anything with it until now. Its the: Long Sleeve Fitted Ruched Dress 02/2015 #124


124_pic_largeThe fabric is of unknown fibre but synthetic with lots of lycra. I think it came from one of my ebay buying binges. Its actually very thick fabric so was quite difficult to get the side-gathering to work. I did attempt to do the side gathers as the pattern says to but in the end I just pleated them. I think it works OK.



  124_pic_large

I also added a stand up neck band like a Tshirt neck edge to the neck edge rather than just turning it over.


 Not the best picture but this is my Tshirt neck edge.

It was all made on the overlocker except for the twin needle stiching of the hems. As it turns out I really love this dress. Its surprisingly warm. When these photos were taken it was freezing! Unfortunately because of the position of my house you can see a shadow accross the bottom of the dress. Sorry about that. Its all one fabric and is just leopard spots! I will try to take a better picture later this week.





I do not usually go in for below the knee skirts. I only wear short above the knee of very long as in maxi-length skirts but this time I decided not to shorten this dress and to try it out just as it was designed to be.

I have this idea I am unable to walk properly in below the knee tight skirts but as it turns out because the fabric is so very stretchy I can walk fine. Probably this misconception goes back to my "gothic" Morticia style dresses I wore in the early 1980s.



There was no stretch cotton then and even stretch denim was very expensive. The very first stretch jeans occurred in 1980 with lycra stretch dancewear at the end of the '70s as far as I can remember.


Stretch fabrics (as in lycra) appeared about the same time as the film "Grease" came out but they were not available in denim until a few years later.

It was also all very expensive and it was not until about 1983 that I convinced my Mum to allow me to have stretch jeans.

I remember the end of the 70s when I was punk wearing clothing so tight and unyealding I used to get what looked like rope burn behind my knees.


Unless you lived then you really would not understand the discomfort we had to go through for fashion!


Anyway I have until now avoided this skirt length due to my memories of wearing unstretchy, unwalkable Morticia Addams style skirts.



But this dress I love. Sadly you cannot really see my shoes here but I am wearing them!




Thanks for reading and for visiting my blog
Bracken





Tuesday, 15 November 2016

BUGS



Well this has nothing to do with sewing although could I suppose be loosley designated as crafting.

I walked into the kitchen last night to find my other half "playing" with the remains of our dinner!

I bought this squash which I believe is a Turk's turban from Aldi a while back. I finally roasted it whole on Sunday to use later in the week. Well my partner decided last night to make it into soup which was delicious. He scooped out the inside then added ginger and lentils and stock. Basic soup really which we had with home made bread.

But that is not the reason for my post. I walked into the kitchen to find him playing with the "shell" and making it into various bug type creatures!. It amused me hence my writing of this post.









What can I say really?

Thanks for visiting
Bracken

Friday, 11 November 2016

FREE patterns alert

Just a quick message to anyone who is a fan of Burda. If you go right now to the NEW burdastyle.co.uk website and search womens digital patterns from £0-£2 you get lots of free patterns. As in 5 pages of them! To get what I wanted I did have to spend so I bought the Lydia shirt pattern which I have been considering for quite a while. If you use code NEWBUR10 you get £10% discount on what you buy as well. I did find I needed to actually pay for something to get the freebies hence buying Lydia. I actually own most of the patterns that are free because I have most of the last couple of years Burda Mags but if you haven't there are nearly all the digital patterns there right now free. I invested my 85p to get 21 old patterns from 2010 up to 2013 which I do not already have. Also the August 2016 Magazine is free. I think you need to pay delivery though. Sadly I already bought it and just for the maxi-cape!
Never mind!
 UPDATE
I returned today which is the 15/11/2016 to find that although the patterns are still advertised as free when you search they now come up as £3.99 when you put them into your basket. Hopefully a few people got bargains/freebies. I did think it was possibly a mistake!
Bracken

Monday, 7 November 2016

Conservatory Curtain update and The Monthly Stitch November challenge


I have done no serious sewing this week just sewn most of my conservatory curtains.  To be honest I seem to be very short on free time right now. No idea why because I am doing nothing particular to what I normally do.  My curtains certainly make the conservatory feel warmer.  They are suspended from the roof by Ikea hooks ( meant for kitchen rails) and net curtain poles from Wilko. It will not cost us much in poles although I do not know how much exactly because I started to buy these months ago. They vary depending on the length from £3 each to £5 each. The blinds are Ikea cheapo blinds for £3 each and have sticky pads at one end. They work fine on the windows but have not been a great success on the roof panels. 


 We cannot afford the several thousand quid for posh blinds so I tried these. They look great when they stay up but when the sun comes out the glue on the sticky pads gets hot and they all fall off. The curtains are just panels of fabric with overlocked edges and a channel along the top edge to keep them as light in weight as possible.

  
 It was quite difficult to take the photos so hopefully you can see what I am talking about.
 
You can see one roof blind down here but at the hottest of summer days we had nearly all of them hanging down so we started to try to fix them but adding Wilko curtain rods into the edge by the top of the walls. 

They will actually slot in there. We staple the edge with the pads onto the pole and then slot it behind the rail that runs around the top edge of each wall panel. You can just about see in the photo above.  It depends probably on whether your conservatory is constructed the same way for this to work but it has been very successful on the few walls I have done so far.



Then to secure curtains I have put them onto similar poles but suspended by Ikea hooks. Unfortunately in all our various attempts to make the blinds stay where we want them we have damaged a few but ideally we will end up replacing all the blinds next year but use this method since it seems to work well.

The actual room temperature is just the same due to heaters keeping it warm but the overall warm feeling is due to it not being just white everywhere I think. 

Here is a safetypinned organza curtain on the back of the curtain panel. Normally these organza curtains hang up on poles but I need to keep the total number of poles to a minumum so we had to safety pin in place instead.

In summer we have just the blinds but with organza nets over some of the windows so we do not frighten the wild birds off the bird-table outside. They are very shy and if they see us we get no visitors but if we have organza we can see them and they do not feel intimidated by us. To keep the organza nets but not sew them permanently I have safety pinned them to the back of my new “winter” curtains. 

The makeshift poles and hooks effort means the curtains do not fit right into each corner so I am going to do a kind of “swag” but at the corner rather than over each window. Then hopefully I will make a tent-like effect which will feel warm and inviting for winter. I will show photos of this later once its done. For now this is as far as I have got with my curtain making.  More later.

 THE MONTHLY STITCH NOVEMBER CHALLENGE
Anyway besides finishing the rest of my curtains for my conservatory I am now planning on what to make for the Monthly Stitch November challenge.

I really fancy doing this challenge because I bought these lovely ankle boots about 12 years ago.


 

Well I say about……………at LEAST 12 years ago. As you can probably see by the photo they are hardly worn. I think possibly only once worn so I intend to make something to wear with these lovelies. Not too sure what yet but some kind of autumn friendly outfit with a bit or a lot of leopard-skin should work I think. I am torn in fact between leopard print and black. I have very little animal print in my current wardrobe so this could be a very fun challenge. I just need to decide what exactly to make.








What do you think would go well with these?



Thanks for visiting,
Bracken

Monday, 31 October 2016

70: Shaman cape for halloween

I had the idea to make this over a year ago when I bought two Ikea rugs for the conservatory.

The rugs are cheap at £20 each and are shaped like an animal skin but 100% synthetic. They do not stand up well to hoovering but do wash very well and look really good. The last time I searched for them they are not in the online catalogue but are for some reason only available in store. At one point I thought they were discontinued which was a great disappointment because that was Halloween last year so I abandoned this project then but then they got more in so I bought two of them and have stored them since in anticipation for this project.

I was just messing around one day and realised they would make a brilliant cape but then I saw various faux taxidermy projects so I decided to make this. My Halloween Shaman’s Cape.

First I used a free internet pattern from Charming Doodle which is actually a reindeer faux taxidermy pattern. http://www.charmingdoodle.com/2013/11/tutorial-make-fabric-deer-head-or.html


 I thought it would be too small but made a quick mock-up /muslin out of some brocade. I did not bother with horns or ears for this model because I just needed to know the actual size it made up into.




 The second picture is me trying it for size on my head. Then having found it very small indeed I used my clover tracing wheel to trace at maximum distance which I think is 3cm all around the edge of each pattern piece. I made the ears a bit longer as well. 





I then grafted the hood pattern from Burda 01/2016/ 101 onto my new animal head pattern. I accidentally traced two of these when I made this so it has been hanging around for ages now and is a bit battered.



I filled in the gap where the hood joins the deer head with extra bits of paper and taped it for further use just in case I decide to make a second version or even a large sized taxidermy head. 


Then I decided I do not need a back on my head/neck since it will be part of a hood so I chopped a few cm off at the body end of the head gusset.








This is how it measures: I cut 23cm off one side and 12cm off the other. Of course you put the long side onto a fold of fabric when you cut.


 Now I made a second muslin. This I decided was OK size wise but I did not like the ears. So I cut about 1inch off the bottom but left the top intact. They are now completely different in shape to the original deer ear.


I sewed the ears first then attached them to the head but further back than the original design.

I also could not get them to stand upright at all!


 
Predator or Prey?

I spent ages then annoying both my dogs trying to work out how their ears attach because predator ears are different to prey. Deer of course are prey but that is what my pattern is and I really want a wolf head or similar since I think most self-respecting shaman tend to wear power animals like predators. Well I am really no expert and at this point in my construction I decide well its going to be a bit too zebra-ish anyway so who cares. I am making a mythical animal head now. I still aim to make it more predator than prey though.


I am feeling a bit guilty at this point because while I am playing around with faux animal patterns, my other half is busy trying to do the plastering in the lounge in time for Christmas where it all fell off a few months ago: Life!

The guilt will not win though because its over a year since I started to plan this. I should have begun the project a week or so ago but only then came back from holiday and had loads of washing to do so I have been too busy with real life to actually do any of the sewing for this project. By now it was about 3pm on Sunday 30TH October and if I really want to complete this in time for Halloween tomorrow I need to get a move on.

 So I decided to go for it. I cut the centre of the head piece out of the middle of the rug so it is very dark and patterned and to get a contrast. No going back now because I have recked my new rug!

I then cut the head with hood out of the pale bit with the edge of the rug becoming the face of my animal. It means I get a good contrast in fur colour.











Then the ears from two legs so the fur there has a kind of edge. The ears are actually about 2.5cm shorter on the bottom edge than the ones I made for the second mock-up.


 
At this point I was panicking about the time this was taking so I stopped taking photos. Sorry about that but I have no real rules or plans to follow so it was all just a bit of luck and "magic" that was guiding me.

The head sewed up really easily and actually fed well through the machine which surprised me. I do have leather needles but never used them. Even when the thread ran out and I re-threaded I found the hard bit was actually getting the very thick 4 layers ( where the ears joined and were folded into a tuck to give shape and the head gusset and head were all being sewed at once) under the foot. I ended up sewing from the edge and into the old stitching line at an angle because while it was impossible to manouver the fabric under the foot I could get it to feed from the edge of the cloth no problem. An unusual sewing experience! The sewing is far from perfect but you cannot really tell and it is just a costume after all. I also had a problem with the Ikea label which I could not remove so I made sure the leg it is behind is not seen when the cape is worn. Obviously if it was at the bottom edge/side you would have seen it as the cape hangs but it is hidden behind the arms/ leg bits that wrap round the front so only seen by me. Going on my experiences with this rug label in fact it is a right nuisance it is there because it comes off in the washing machine and leaves a sticky patch you cannot remove which sticks to the laminate flooring.  You can see here where I washed it off the one rug.


I tried just to peel off the other but that also does not work. So I reckon if you use these rugs for anything even on the floor then you are stuck with this label. Its hidden and I must just live with that.

Finally my hood/animal is together so I split an old cushion for fibre filling because I never remembered to buy any. I stuffed and added some lining fabric to hold it in place.

To attach the hood to the body of the cape, I use the actual shaped edge of the other rug as it is and cut nothing off because its kind of neck shaped anyway and attached the hood here. It is at the centre of the rug on the side where the label goes. It would look just as good the opposite way up really but you would then see the annoying label that Ikea must put on there.

Then I tried it on but the hood bit is just huge so I got my partner to pin it into a kind of collar all the way round and sewed a line of stitching to hold this in place. I think it actually looks more “designed” with the collar so I am pretty pleased with that.

So here it is:







Unfortunately, I never thought to buy any stuffed animal eyes or noses and I have decided to use it tonight as it is but to add them later. I did mess around with buttons and bits of fabric but I want proper hammer in glass or plastic eyes and a nose so I need to order these. It does mean I have a rather blind shaman animal who has no sense of smell tonight but never mind. I want to make this perfect and it is still complete enough to wear as part of my Halloween costume regardless. I will probably eventually add a fastening with a buckel and some faux leather at the neck to hold it closed  if I get time before tonight but it is useable for a party just as it is.

So what do you reckon?   Predator or Prey?
Here is me attempting a shamanic rain-dance in the back garden:

Predator or Prey? Does it really matter?

Thanks for reading and for visiting my blog,
Happy Halloween
Bracken