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…

Balancing work, life and play

It’s week one of the Welsh invasion of Surrey and I’m already falling into the dangerous coach-potato pattern I swore I’d avoid.

I’m currently experiencing the curious phenomenon of becoming near-comatose as soon as weary feet reach the front door after a day in the office. Oh sure, I was bright and perky when I left work and had plans aplenty for the productive activities I’d get up to at home. Blogging, sewing, cake-making… there would be no stopping me!

But, curiously, what’s meant to be a brief respite with a cuppa on the sofa turns into hours of watching awful television and BAM! It’s midnight and I find myself cursing the time-stealing gremlins because how else were the hours snatched away?

I know, I shouldn’t be too hard on myself because it’s only been one week, but this really cannot continue.

On Friday afternoon, I returned home with a bank holiday weekend ahead of me and all manner of things to sort out. But somehow, I managed to turn a nap into a full-on sleepathon lasting right up into Saturday morning! When did I become so lazy?

As with most things, I took to Twitter to find out if I was the only one struggling to juggle work with the rest of my life. Of course, I certainly wasn’t:

What about you? How do you find time for your hobbies with your full-time job?

Normal service will resume as soon as I find a remedy for the time-stealing gremlins…

One good turn deserves another – Giveaway!

You heard right, it’s giveaway time!

But before I get to the giveaway bit, I need to tell you a little bit about my friend Ki.

This lady in the middle* is a bit of a legend you see. Not only is she an all-round kick-ass kind of gal, she’s got a PhD in awesome (or at least this is what I assume). Ki and I are pals from my time in Swansea, but now she has an exciting job in England and I’m back in the Welsh capital, we don’t get to see each other as much as we’d like to.

Except when we caught up earlier this week she brought me PRESENTS!

Not just any old present. LOOK AT ALL THOSE PATTERNS. As you can imagine, I got just a little bit excited. Her Mum’s a bit of a seamstress you see, and she’s been lovely enough to lend me some of her old patterns, which I’m going to trace and have a crack at making. Amazing present or what?

So, in lieu of Ki’s most excellent present, I propose a giveaway of my own. The whole trace it and pass it on ethos works quite well for old patterns – they’re highly sought after and go for a fair bob online. So I thought I’d take a leaf out of Ki’s book and offer one of my own collection to you guys.

This here is Vogue 7239, a ’60s style pattern with a coat and dress. Pretty schnazzy, right? I’ve yet to make this one up myself – I snapped it up at a vintage market here in Cardiff (actually, my friend Keiligh wrote about it here, there’s even a photo of my hands rifling through the vintage pattern goodies!) and haven’t had the chance to use it yet. It’s a size 14 with 36″ bust measurement, but I imagine it would be pretty easy to scale up or down.

What I’m going to do is trace the pattern, photocopy the instructions and send it along to one of you! All I ask the winner to do is pass it along in your own giveaway once you’re done with it – simples! Also, do blog about your creation! You’ll see mine at some point (I hope!) when I get a chance to whip one up, and it’d be great to collate the different versions we make.

All I need you to do is to comment with what you’d do with the pattern – what fabric would you use? What colour? Where would you wear it? You know me, I’m nosy! I’ll choose the winner at random two weeks today on March 28. This giveaway is open to everyone!

Oh, and do check out Ki’s blog, it’s lovely. Also, if you’re on the Twitter-machine, get following, because she’s a legend! Any ideas on how I can repay her?

*FYI, the one on the right with the blue hair? Equally legendary.

Pledge Progress Report – The beginning!

As more people sign up to the Seamless pledge (big thanks to Zoe for the shoutout!), I wanted to give you guys a few details on documenting your own pledge progress and to post the first of my progress reports!

Here’s the little video I made for the Seamless Pledge in case you missed it!

New pledgers!

Those of you starting out on the pledge – hello! Nice to see you and lovely to have you on board! A fair few new blogs have been added to my RSS feed today and I’m really looking forward to seeing how you all get along!

A lot of you will be documenting the pledge through your blogs, but it’d be great if you could join me in documenting it via Flickr and Facebook as well!

flickr group seamless screenshot

Hopefully you’re members of the Flickr group and like the Facebook page – the reason I set these up was so we could have places to bring our content together and encourage each other during the pledge.

The Flickr group was one of the aspects I really enjoyed about Zoe’s Self Stitched and Me Made Challenges, so I’ve followed in her suit. I discovered so many new blogs through those groups during the challenges so it’d be lovely if the same happened during the Seamless pledge!

While I may be a bit lonely on the Flickr group pool at the moment, I hope you’ll be joining me on there soon enough! At present, there’s no Seamless Twitter, but I am using the #seamlesspledge hashtag quite a bit.

Pledge Progress Report – The first refashion!

Officially, I began the Seamless pledge about three weeks ago.

Do I miss buying new clothes? Well, a day in the life of a trainee journalist doesn’t leave much time for shopping.  In between shorthand, a visit to court and wandering around my news patch, new clothes have been the last thing on my mind.  I predict it’ll really start to kick in at Christmas, when you’re expected to buy a new party dress for your Christmas ‘do.

When I wasn’t furiously shorthanding away or editing audio interviews last week, I managed to set aside some time for some refashioning!

vintage floral pleated skirt from oxfam boutique

Meet this pleated number courtesy of Cardiff’s Oxfam Boutique. The Oxfam Boutique isn’t my usual haunt for refashioning possibilities mostly because the price range is a little bit higher than regular Oxfam shops. If I’m just going to chop something up, I’m not going to spend more than £10 on it.

At £6.99, this floral wonder in the vintage section of the shop was right up my street. Though the label says it’s a size 14 from St Michael, as vintage sizes run smaller than their modern equivalents, there was no need to resize the waist. Excellent!

refashion pleated skirt after

Some snips, ironing and a baby hem later and tah-dah! One happy Elena! I know longer skirts are a la mode right now and some ladies pull them off fabulously, but alas, I am just too short.

For those new to refashioning and sewing, I’ll be posting a tutorial on how to hem a pleated skirt in a couple of days – but I wondered if any of the more experienced refashioners out there have any tips for pleated hems? Comment away, and I’ll add them to the post!