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…

INTERVIEW: Tilly Walnes (Tilly and the Buttons)

If somehow you haven’t heard of Tilly, you’re in for a treat. Since she began sewing and blogging at Tilly and the Buttons, she’s been recommended in the Colette Patterns book, become a guru for sewing beginners and recently ran the first successful sewing social on Twitter.

Tilly kindly agreed to answer some questions for me via email, so without further ado, I’ll hand you over to the lady herself…

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A quick peek at the Colette Sewing Handbook

The Colette Sewing Handbook has been on my wish-list for some time now.

This independent pattern retailer is a clear favourite among the blogging community. Colette Patterns offers vintage-style patterns with clear and concise instructions – perfect for anyone just starting out with sewing.

On top of this, founder Sarai Mitnick has created a little community based around her patterns. The regularly updated blog, Coletterie, is full to the brim with all sorts of hints and tips for beginner and more advanced sewers alike.

Colette Patterns cover

This community has been abuzz since Sarai announced there would be a Colette Patterns book and its release was timed with a tour around the sewing blogosphere.

Finally, I have my own copy! I’ve been a fan of Sarai’s work for some time now, having owned the Macaron dress pattern for about a year (I’m still on the hunt for the perfect fabric).

Colette Patterns has always stood out among independent pattern retailers not just for their unique take on the vintage styles sweeping the sewing blogosphere by storm but also because of the individual way in which the patterns are packaged. For someone used to the more traditional packaging of sewing patterns (folded into an envelope and near impossible to get back in!) the little instruction booklets complete with intricate, illustrated instructions are just lovely.

inside colette patterns bookThe book itself is no different. Sarai has based it around what she calls the Five Fundamentals: A thoughtful plan, a precise pattern, a fantastic fit, a beautiful fabric and a fine finish.

What really sets the Colette Sewing Handbook apart from other sewing books are the patterns. Oh the patterns!

Five patterns – one accompanying each fundamental – are included in the book, so you’re really getting your money’s worth. The patterns themselves are also easily adapted, as Sarai has demonstrated in several tutorials on the Colette Patterns blog.

Reading the book, it’s a clear winner for anyone just starting out in sewing. What I’m hoping to do is to hone my sewing abilities in 2012 using the book – sometimes I can be a pretty lazy seamstress and forget about these fundamentals, leading to some horror garments!

This won’t be the last you’ll hear from the sewing handbook – I can’t wait to get cracking on the patterns!

Any other Colette Patterns fans in the house? Also, don’t forget – I’m still looking for 2011’s inspirational makes, as explained in this blog post here!

I hope you all had a great Christmas!

The Weekend Reading List

My week has been full of everything but sewing! I’ve still been keeping tabs on my favourite blogs – here are some posts which may tickle your fancies too!

Tilly popped up a tutorial for puff sleeves yesterday, the same as those featured on her latest button back blouse. I love a good tutorial, and Tilly’s are always very helpful.

It’s not about sewing per se, but Miss Katie wrote an excellent post this week, hitting back at women looking down on those who enjoy past-times traditionally associated with females. She says it a lot better than I do, go read!

This post from Tasia at Sewaholic earlier in the week caught my eye. She asks: “How does your partner feel about your love of sewing?” It’s worth delving into the comments as well as reading the post itself, maybe even share your own experiences!

Speaking of reading comments – have a look at those on my last post about getting rid of old clothes, it’s been great to read people’s experiences with textile recycling. On a similar, sustainable, note, Zoe has a great post about commercial consumption which is, as always, very thought-provoking.

Happy reading!