And now for something different… my first time with embroidery

If there’s one thing I’m terrible at when it comes to sewing, it’s taking risks.

But, as you all know, when it comes to the Twitter dress, one hell of a risk was needed to try and salvage this project. Not to mention, quite honestly, I am really really BORED of this garment now.

Enter embroidery, a craft I’ve never really had a go at and probably should have practiced a bit more before getting my brand-new embroidery needles stuck in – but this is risk-taking sewing here. EXTREME stuff, I’m telling you.

Embroidery requires a hoop to keep the fabric taut while you’re stitching along, desperately praying everything won’t come out all wonky. I was half tempted to go without, but, according to Sublime Stitching, the hoop is an integral part of the ULTIMATE EMBROIDERY KIT and being as this was EXTREME RISK-TAKING TIME, it just wouldn’t be the same without the hoop now would it?

I had planned to buy my ULTIMATE EMBROIDERY KIT from the lovely Sublime Stitching, but, er, I got impatient and toddled along to a lovely craft shop in Guildford called Pandora instead, where I acquired some stitchery goodness.

Keeping my Twittery theme in mind, I asked a good friend of mine to doodle me a  swallow. I get enough stick for having earrings with a passing resemblance to the Twitter logo (especially considering how much I’m on there), I couldn’t quite face actually embroidering it onto a dress. Isn’t it a nice design though?

Now, you’d think the sensible thing to do would be to practice, practice, practice first on the oodles of scrap fabric I have. Psht. Whatever. EXTREME RISK-TAKING has no time for piddly practice. This project needs moving along, pronto!

I sheepishly admit I wish I’d done a bit of practice now. It’s not that it looks too bad, it’s just a bit… wonky. Poor wonky bird. It had such high hopes, coming from a lovely design, but my inexperienced embroidery hands just got a bit over-excited and everything went all over the place. I could take it out, I suppose, but you’re assuming I can be bothered.

Getting stuck in couldn’t have been easier, thanks again to Sublime Stitching. Have you seen the tutorials available on the site? They’re fantastic, really clear and excellent for beginners. If I get more into embroidery, perhaps a cheeky book order is on the cards.

This isn’t even the half of why the Twitter dress is taking me so bloody long. I wish I could promise you an adventure-filled sewing tale full of pattern-slashing and skilful adjustments but it’s more a case of me sitting in a half-sewn muslin cheering on whoever was doing some sporting stuff on the telly.

It’s grit my teeth time to get it done now. The embroidery, while wonky, was actually pretty fun because it was something different. Now it’s back to the sewing grindstone. Sigh.

Do you ever get bored of your projects because they’re taking so long? Sometimes I wish the sewing fairy would come to visit and I’ll come home to find everything done, seam finishes and all…

2012 Sewing Resolutions

I actually can’t believe 2012 is here! Ridiculous, no?

There have been a couple of looking ahead and sewing resolution posts popping up around the place, so how better to start 2012 than with a couple of resolutions? It’s odd, I’m not usually in the habit of making resolutions – in fact, even New Year’s Eve tends to be more of a non-event than anything – but there are a couple of things I want to do to take my sewing further.

The first is a no-brainer…

Sew more

Last year wasn’t the greatest in terms of sewing output, and this is partly because I haven’t had the time and partly down to laziness on my part. No more! I resolve to sew more – even if it’s just for half an hour one evening. Also, I can knit now! This can easily be done while watching the news. Wow, I really am quite the journo-crafter hybrid aren’t I?

Put quality over quantity

Saying this, I need to sort some of my bad sewing habits. As much as I’d love to end this year having sewn as much as Debi, I just haven’t got the same standard of skills yet! Even if it slows down progress, it’ll always be worth taking a step back, planning carefully and taking my time with finishing.

Meet more bloggers!

Blogging can often be seen as a little bit self-indulgent, but if you take a look at the sewing community which has built up around these little online logbooks, then you’ll see just the opposite. I’m genuinely chuffed to bits to be part of the community and contributing something through the pledge. I’ve been to a few blogger meetups before and it’s been great to actually meet internet people in the flesh!

I’m sure I could think of many more, but those are just a few. What about you guys? Got any resolutions? A couple of people have taken the pledge as their new year’s resolution – get in touch if you have!

2011’s inspirational makes

Photo by foto.bulle

It’s that time of year folks!

Time for the year in review posts – the highs, the lows and the things you’ll do better next year. 2011 has been quite the year, hasn’t it? I wanted to do something a little bit different for my end-of-year post…

I want to hear about the makes which have inspired your stitching in 2011!

My RSS feed is jam packed with some amazing sewing bloggers from all corners of the world and I’m sure the same can be said of you guys! These are the crafters who inspire me to stitch, knit and take embarassing photos of the results.

Have you seen a creation this year which has just taken your breath away? Maybe you’ve retweeted the blog post in awe or added it to your inspiration folder – if you have, I would love to hear about it.

Or perhaps you’ve made something this year which you’re pretty damn proud of. I want to know all about the blood, sweat and seam ripping which went into your best make of 2011.

Send me the link to the blogpost documenting the make and tell me why it’s one of your top makes. Then, on Friday 30 December I’ll post a selection of them on the blog where you can bask in their glory!

You can get in touch with me via all the usual avenues, whether it’s Twitter, Facebook, e-mail or by commenting below!

Can’t wait to see the inspirational makes!

What’s on your sewing table?

The Seamless pledge has been running for about a month now, yet my sewing output hasn’t improved quite as much as I’d thought. Part of my aim was to reconnect with my handmade wardrobe, but while I’ve refashioned a little bit, my sewing output has been lacking.

This is partly because I just haven’t had the time to sit down and sew. It’s actually very rare to find me at home nowadays. While living in Germany, my sewing table served as my base, and even during my lacklustre (in the sewing department) final year in Swansea, my sewing machine was rarely out of sight. Here in JOMEC’s newsroom, a sewing machine wouldn’t exactly fit in with the Macbooks, maps and newspapers!

living the the cjs newsroomWatching the Leveson Inquiry in the newsroom instead of sewing, I am cool.

I always knew this course would be full on, but I hoped I’d at least put aside some time to sew. As it stands, I’ve spent the last three weeks on the same project! It’s difficult to come back and forth from a project sometimes as often I’ll have given up on the last session because I hit a wall, only to return and discover the wall still remains. A bit frustrating to say the least, particularly when other sewing bloggers are consistently making good quality items on a regular basis.

Back in April, Tilly began her Sewing Productivity Project. There are a lovely set of posts about how best to organise your time to sew and even some data visualisation (I’m normally used to talking about this in the context of journalism!) with hints and tips on how to improve sewing productivity. It’s safe to say I’m not the only sewer having trouble with productivity. Tilly’s set of posts on this are really interesting, with some guest bloggers contributing too!

As it stands, I’ve been oh-so-slowly getting along with my self-drafted pencil skirt, but it has been taking an absolute age. All the while, I’ve been resisting actually buying any new clothing, which is great, but I’m not doing so well with regards to actually getting back in touch with the sewing aspect of my life.

Over to you. What’s on your sewing table? Do you ever find anything getting in the way of your sewing?

On an unrelated note – I’m really loving how willing everyone is to comment, particularly on my past post about old clothes. I do read everyone’s comments, even if I don’t get a chance to reply to them all! Keep them coming, it’s great to get some more perspective.

The Graduation Skirt

A big part of the Seamless pledge is bringing focus back to the handmade and refashioned items in my wardrobe. Sewing progress is a lot slower nowadays, but I still have a few projects up my sleeves ready to share, and this is where this scallop waist circle skirt comes into the picture.

As some of you may have noticed, I’m a big fan of making things especially for big occasions; in the past I’ve made clothes for university balls, interviews and weddings. There’s something deliciously satisfying about wearing something you’ve made yourself, but even more so when you have a certain occasion in mind. When it came to graduating from Swansea University, I wanted to make sure I wore at least one handmade item.

scallop waist skirt blue
Elena Cresci BA, in case you wondered… (show off)

Using Vivat Veritas’s free pattern and tutorial from Grosgrain‘s month of free patterns, I made a royal blue circle skirt especially for the occasion. The bright blue gabardine didn’t exactly match the ridiculous graduation robes, which featured the most delightful shade of maroon, but I won’t tell if you don’t…

The pattern itself was so easy to sew up. Circle skirts are easy to draft yourself and there are plenty of tutorials online, including great ones from Gertie and . Chie of Vivat Veritas has done all the work for you on this pattern, meaning a lot less maths on your part! My inner maths-hating child was delighted.

There’s a nice little variation on the circle skirt theme with Chie’s pattern in the scalloped waistband. Scallops are becoming quite the trend from what I’ve seen on the online sewing community – as you can see from the newly released Colette Sewing Handbook which features the Meringue skirt with a scalloped hem. Lovely! Mine didn’t turn out quite as even as hoped, but I liked the effect anyway.

One problem I’ve found is the top of the waistband curves over so you can’t really see the shape. It’s not too big a problem, but does anyone have any suggestions on how to prevent this effect? Also, the back waistband doesn’t quite line up. Something to work on in future projects!

As for graduation – I may have spent most of it pretending I’d finally received my letter to Hogwarts. Standard practice really if you’re given robes and a silly hat. Is it any wonder I renamed it Wizard Day?

If you have any tips, I’d love to hear them!