Sewing sequins – some inspiration

With the festive season over and done with, you’d think I’d missed the boat on the sequin front – but there’s nothing wrong with a spot of glitz to kick off the first month of the New Year.

As I mentioned last time, I’m trying to concentrate on one of my Can’t Jar entries a month. I’ve never sewn sequins before and I’m currently without a sewing machine, so it seemed like the perfect place to start.

It can be fiddly work for sure, but, as you’ll see from some of these projects, the results are well worth the effort. I’ve gathered five sequin tutorials from around the web

Sequin clutch

This is definitely one you’ll need to set a bit of time aside for, as well as about 40 yards of sequins! Again, no sewing machine needed here right until the end when you put all the pieces together. Kris from How Did You Make This has a great tutorial for this evening clutch bag here.

Paillette sequin collar

Really simple idea from A Pair & A Spare to update a round neckline. Geneva added paillette sequins to the neckline of a refashioned white dress. Best of all, you won’t need a sewing machine at all. But if you do have one handy – why not make a version of this BurdaStyle peplum top with the embellished neckline?

Embellished headpiece

Embellished headpiece | Everything Oz/Mollie Makes

Embellished headpiece | Everything Oz/Mollie Makes

Excuse the dodgy picture on this one, as it’s actually from issue twenty of Mollie Makes magazine! This hair clip is made from sequins, beads, gems and stones with the starbust design sewn onto sinamay in an embroidery hoop. It’s from Everything Oz by Christine Leech and Hannah Read-Baldrey, which you can get here.

Sequinned shoe clips

How cute are these little bow clips?! They’re pretty easy to make too. Alternatively, there’s a tutorial here for a pair of heart-shaped sequin shoe clips, if those should take your fancy.

DIY Sequin Maxi Skirt

Being the shortarse I am, I’m not sure I could pull this one off, though I’m sure there are plenty of you out there who could rock a full-length sequin skirt. This YouTube tutorial is definitely for you.

Any of you spotted some good sequin tutorials? Or have you tried sewing with them? Do let me know in the comments below.

Fostering good sewing habits

Hands up who tends to be a slapdash sewist? I certainly am. Cutting corners is my thing, don’t you know.

But for 2013, I’ve decided my sewing needs to mature a little. Here’s some bad sewing habits I need to grow out of:

1) Skimming instructions

instructions.jpg

There’s just something about instructions that makes them so… skimmable. It’s as though as soon as you introduce some sort of numbered list, I switch off. Equally,  sometimes I just can’t or won’t make the effort to get my head around what exactly a pattern is asking me to do.

If text turns you off, then there are a wealth of visual and video tutorials available online. Or, better yet, many independent pattern companies are providing in-detail drawings with simple instructions – perfect for more visual learners like me. (I used a pic of Gertie’s instructions above – but what it doesn’t show is the great little illustrative instructions featured over the page) If you really don’t understand something, Google is just a click away.

2) Leaving threads unsnipped and seams unironed…

It can seem such a pain to get up from your sewing machine to head for the ironing board or reach for the scissors – particularly if you have a lack of space. In my case, the ironing board and iron are in another room completely. Ironing seams helps everything look much more professional in the long run. As for snipping threads – it’s such a relief not to have to deal with a load of strays all over your garment right at the very end if you’ve done it the whole way through.

Gertie took a look into the whys and hows of ironing – specifically, whether it’s really necessary to iron your seams flat and then open. Over at the Coletterie, August’s good habit of the month was clipping those threads!

3) Never making a muslin

I’ve mused about my love-hate relationship with muslins before. To the slapdash and money-conscious sewist in me, muslins are time-consuming and a waste of otherwise perfectly good fabric. But after a number of fitting disasters, I’ve changed my tune a little – I even made a muslin of my most recent pencil skirt project.

pencilskirtmuslin.jpg

The fact is, if you’re making significant alterations, then a muslin is probably sensible. In my brief foray into the world of muslin-making, I’ve found a stable cotton to work well in a light colour you can easily draw on. Sunni at A Fashionable Stitch did a great pencil skirt sewalong a couple of years back which included how to tackle fitting the perfect muslin. Not sure if you need to make a muslin? Check out Sewaholic’s post here for musings on when a practice garment is necessary.

4) Claiming there’s just no time to sew

Sometimes, sewing can seem like just too much effort, particularly when I’ve had a long day at the office. More often than not, it’s not the actual sewing which makes me reluctant – it’s trying to muster up the enthusiasm to get started.

One great way to tackle this is to adopt Tilly’s 15-minute rule. Setting 15 minutes aside every day really helps me to get my sewing mojo back. Sometimes it turns into a little longer, other times I stick to the 15 minutes and just trace out a pattern or something. Bitesize chunks take the pressure off immensely – and it definitely stops me feeling guilty for being a bit lazy with the sewing machine!

Those are just some of the bad sewing habits I’m tackling right now. How about you? Are you a sewist who sticks to the straight and narrow, or do you often find yourself developing bad habits?

Inspiring Makes on Pinterest

The social media aficonados among you are sure to be avid fans of image-based site Pinterest already.

For those of you who aren’t pinning like there’s no tomorrow, it’s basically an online inspiration board, akin to a scrapbook or a mood board. It’s a nice way to bookmark your favourite tutorials on a visual basis, for example.

Eagle-eyed readers and those of you who follow me on Pinterest already will notice my first board is dedicated to inspiring makes, where I’ve started collating some of my favourite sewing makes from the big talents on the sewing blogosphere. Sometimes, the best way to improve your stitching is by taking inspiration from other stitchers.

Source: sewithought.com via Elena on Pinterest

Take Angela from Sew I Thought, for example. After a bit of a blogging hiatus, she’s back with some blooming beautiful creations, including this bowtastic blouse made from Simplicity 2154, a reissue of a 1960s pattern. It’s very Mad Men, don’t you think?

 

Continuing with the vintage theme, how fantastic is Erika’s blue rose party dress? She’s really made the most of the panelled fabric and the little ric-rac details add a real professional touch.

If you want to see more Inspiring Makes, check out my board on Pinterest and get following if you have an account. Would you guys be interested in regular updates on the blog about inspiring projects I’ve been pinning?

Project Planning: Meringue Skirt

Sometimes, I’m a bit crap at sewing. No, this isn’t false modesty – this is actually true.

My sewing performance oscillates. Sometimes it’ll reach the dizzying heights of a perfectly executed invisible zipper, but the next week it could drop to the deepest depths of a poorly executed blouse courtesy of the old enemy… buttonholes.

A dress I managed to screw up, sad times.

Memories of failed projects still haunt me to this day – like the above dress I tried to make when I was still living in Germany. The fabric was amazing, but sadly, the dress wasn’t meant to be.

Hardly the sustainable sort of sewing we’re after, is it?

As you all know, 2012’s sewing mantra is quality, not quanitity. Bad habits from my fast fashion days run rampant when I sew.

It happens to the best of us – we start cutting corners because we’re so impatient for the final product. I’ve even distracted myself by thinking about whatever project I’ve got lined up next and before I know it, the one I’ve barely begun working on is old news.

If the pledge is about steering away from this mentality towards a more sustainable one, then this speedy, sloppy sewing just doesn’t contribute anything constructive at all. At the end of the day, you’ll end up with a poorly made garment you may as well have spent a fiver on, because it’ll fall apart in no time.

So let’s slow it down right from the beginning – take a step back and start planning. As a rule, I’ve never done this.

Mood-boards just haven’t been my thing – I tend to keep a lot of ideas in my head,  only to have them change when I spot some pretty quilting cotton. The Colette Sewing Handbook suggests you draw yourself a croquis.

I know what you’re thinking – sounds like something French and to do with potatoes, but it’s actually a sketch of clothing on a figure. It’s a good way to visualise what your garment will end up looking like.

Colette Patterns, Meringue

Alternatively, you can go for the moodboard-style idea as I’ve done above – I actually used Polyvore for this one, linking images of fabric I’d seen online. This is a pretty simple project, so I didn’t need to add much, but for something like the Macaron, which features two different fabrics, it could be useful to have all your planned fabric and notions in one place.

As for the project? I’m thinking a royal green colour – I’ve been a bit of a fan of jewel tones for a while. The handbook recommends a medium weight fabric like poplin and Raystitch has some great jewel tones on offer in plain cotton of a medium weight.

Need inspiration for your Meringue skirt? The Coletterie has plenty, but here are a couple of others I found (curiously, all black and white versions!):

  • I’ve already got a houndstooth skirt, but I was so tempted to make another after seeing this beauty from Lauren, who blogs at Lladybird. She’s used the Coletterie’s tutorial to add a waistband – I might just do the same.
  • Sharon’s added some piping to the hem of her Meringue, going for a monochrome look with some pinstripe fabric. Lovely. She’s even included a nice little walk-through of how she did it.
  • The newspaper fan in me could hardly ignore A View Into my World‘s print-style Meringue! It was actually a gift for a friend using the same fabric as she made for her equally excellent rendition of Sewaholic‘s Minoru jacket.

Any planning tips for this lazy seamstress? I’d love to hear them!

2011’s Inspirational Makes – as chosen by you!

I received some lovely submissions for 2011’s inspirational makes! You’ve been really busy this year haven’t you?

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Without further ado, here are Seamless readers’ inspirational makes from 2011 (in no particular order):

Check out Adri H’s Bombshell Dress! Isn’t it amazing? Gertie’s online class is clearly worth taking if these are the results. What I really loved was how Adri blogged the construction of the dress, so you can see just how much detail has gone into it. It’s clearly paid off – it fits her like a glove and the diamond brooch is an elegant touch. Adri said: “It’s an evening dress with a structured bodice, lots of couture techniques and an overall sewing adventure.” The Bombshell Dress is most definitely on my sewing list after seeing this incarnation of it!

image from The Wardrobe Reimagined

Ali was nominated by Minnado: “I was inspired by Ali’s use of existing jeans and a jacket to create her own pattern pieces and wardrobe staples.” Ali completed quite the feat this year by accurately making copies of not only a J Crew jacket but also a pair of jeans from Gap! Not to mention she did it from working out her own pattern for both garments. It just goes to show, who needs the labels when you have your sewing machine?

Minnado has been pretty busy too, sewing and refashioning a whole maternity capsule wardrobe for herself. In total, it cost her a mere £32 for her entire maternity wardrobe. She said: “It has meant I have busted out a lot of stash fabric and I have learnt that it is a myth that you have to buy maternity clothes, and need to spend lots of money.” Cost-effective, practical and stylish.

Molly made this fantastic coat for her sister, nicknamed the Sith coat. Possibly the coolest name ever? Perhaps only after her sister’s, who chose Pedro as her online moniker. She clearly enjoys wearing this coat and who can blame her? I can’t decide what I like best – the epic hood or the hipster-style lining. Bravo!

Charlotte whipped up this beauty from a V and A pattern found here! It’s retro-tastic and a great example of how reproductions of vintage patterns should be done. Isn’t the floral fabric just beautiful? Charlotte also wore it to the Sew Weekly UK meetup earlier this year and she looked fantastic!

Charlotte also nominated Sew Weekly contributor Debi for her response to the community’s Sewing Through the Decades challenge. Debi’s blog is well-worth a look, as she consistently comes up trumps with her creations. Charlotte said: “This 1933 outfit made me gasp out loud the first time I saw it. To be honest she has made lots more as well that I just love, but this is my favourite.” I agree with Charlotte, Debi’s creations are consistently inspirational – in fact, she’s just posted her own year in review, featuring a whopping 58 outfits!

Sometimes, the simplest silhouettes are the most effective, as Barbara shows with her 1950’s dress. Can you believe this is made from a vintage sheet? I think the little touches like the piping detail really makes this dress special. Barbara said: “I really got into the sew-mo during the second half of 2011. I think one of my best pieces was made out of a thrifted sheet that I repurposed into an adorable 50′s dress. Having one of my talented daughters take the pictures, made for a very pleasing set of pics.”

Last, but most certainly not least, is this very unique way of RSVPing a wedding invitation from Kirsty of The Leopard Anchor. The embroidery on this cushion is astoundingly intricate, particularly the post-card style writing on the back and the little owl stamp. It’s also scented! This wasn’t the end of the story for this special little cushion however. Kirsty said: “I was pretty proud of it as I hadn’t done much embroidery and it turned out quite well. But I was bursting with pride when I discovered the lovely couple were using it as their ring cushion on their wedding day.” How lovely is that?

There we have it ladies and gents! Some cracking makes, I’m sure you’ll all agree. I’m really looking forward to what you all come up with in 2012! I’m thinking of featuring inspirational makes on a more regular basis in 2012, perhaps monthly? What do you think?

If you want to see some of the blogs I read for inspiration, then check out my bundle of RSS feeds here, including Zoe (also recommended by Minnado), Thread Carefully and Gertie, amongst others! I’m always adding more, so subscribe if you want to share my sewing blog reading list.

Oh, also…

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Apologies this post is so late in the day! WordPress and I were having a bit of a technological fist fight, as you do. I had a good old rant on Twitter and then got back to it. Consider yourself defeated WordPress, ha!