Thursday, 17 April 2014

April at Village Haberdashery

I have so many choices for my visit to Village Haberdashery this month.  Let's start with Flight, now available in voile, interlock knit and canvas and flying out of the shop at speed- do you see what I did there ;) ?

I have been waiting for the Flight in a knit and voile to arrive and ordered both straightaway.  The knit was slightly different than I imagined.   You can see the reverse of the fabric is off white (this is the 'Dusk' colourway- a dark slate grey with a hint of navy.  It is an interlock knit and these are usually less stretchy than jersey and this interlock has less stretch or softness than I had anticipated even for an interlock so it would not be my first choice for a fitted long sleeved T shirt like a Renfrew. However, the plus side of an interlock like this is that it behaves more like a woven fabric when you cut and sew it- it has greater stability than a single jersey knit which tends to curl up at every opportunity and can be tricky to cut.  So although this won't work for very stretchy shapes, it is perfect for jersey clothing that needs a little more structure- Tilly's Coco  as a dress or top would be a great pattern for this fabric. I plan to make a little light summer jacket from a new Lisette pattern, Round Trip Simplicity 1419.
I also ordered this in Juniper and it is totally and utterly lovely. 

It is another jersey interlock but much softer and with more stretch, although both are 100% organic cotton.  The colour is amazing and the quality is sublime.  Simply the best knit I have ever ordered!  I have 1 ½ metres of this- its 160cm wide, and I know from previous experience than I can squeeze a long sleeved fitted T and some sort of short sleeved Briar top or similar.  Tops like that are my everyday basics so I could not be happier and there are so many colours- stripes and solids- to choose from, I will definitely be back for more.
Fabric manufacturers have finally realised that decent knit/jersey fabrics are hard to find and what many home sewers are looking for and so have included them in their new ranges.  Art Gallery are leading the way with knits and voiles featuring alongside the silky quilting cottons in their new Limited Edition fabric collections- Sara Lawson's Jungle Avenue (coming in July) for example.

Back to what's available now, and just in today, the new knit patterns from Colette.  Mabel, an easy pull on panelled skirt:

And Moneta, a simple dress with lots of customisation possibilities and a free download booklet for different neck line options. 

Colette has made a giant step with both these patterns to cover a far greater range of sizes (from XS to 3XL) and it is truly wonderful to see a leading independent company embracing what women want and who they really are.  I especially like the Curvy Collective Blog Tour.  I did notice with both these patterns  jersey lining is part of the construction so you need to factor that in when you buy your fabrics and consider the type of jersey recommended for each pattern-there is a handy guide to different jersey/knit fabrics on Tilly and the Buttons.  The striped and solid colour interlock knits have great potential for these patterns.

Remember to always prewash knits and use the cycle that you would expect to wash the finished garment on.  Sometimes I wash knits twice as there can be quite a lot of shrinkage. Dry flat if you can and avoid hanging over radiators to finish the drying off- the fabric overhanging at the radiator corners distorts leaving strange bulges in your fabric- I speak from experience on this!

Back to quilting cottons,  there are three wonderful fabrics from Tula Pink's new Fox Field range and very appropriate for Easter weekend, Hoppy Dot in Sunrise, Shade and Dusk.

I am very impressed with the fabrics Cloud 9 have been producing recently, the Grey Abbey collection designed by Elizabeth Olwen is stunning- such pretty colours!  You can build a bundle here.

Thinking ahead for warmer weather, there are some new voiles which are wide at 142cm/56" and great value at only £10 a metre- perfect for the dress patterns that require 3 metres of fabric!  My favourite is this blue tulip print.

If you prefer a more geometric print, suitable for menswear too (shirts?)  there is this triangle based navy voile.

You can see the other prints here.
Wanting a quick fabric fix?  April Showers by Bonnie and Camille charm pack for Moda might just be what you are looking for?

And for the cuteness, I could not resist the new Oliver and S Lullaby layette Set- adorable and great for making new baby gifts.

The layette outfits in the picture are made from the Cloud 9 Palos Verde voile collection.

So much to choose from and I didn't even show these sweatshirt knits, this purple Olfa cutting mat, or these Emily Peacock needlepoint kits… maybe next time x

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Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Scrappy trip: Wordless Wednesday

Scrappy Trip pattern here.

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Quarter Inch Mark Patterns

I have been friends with Chase for some time now.  She's just one of those people that I really hit it off with and we regularly email each other about what we are making, our daughters, what's going on in our lives and try and support each other from afar through the tricky bits.  Chase is a hugely talented and creative person.  Her photographs are always beautiful and her patchwork and  hand sewn quilting makes me want to reach out through the screen and feel the texture and stitches.  She has been working on a new project,  quarter inch mark studio where she is selling a mix of PDF patterns and also ready-cut fabric sewing kits.  Kin-cha-ku is her first and it's a beauty.

Kin-cha-ku is a traditional Japanese drawstring bag.  She details all the construction in the pattern from fabric choosing, through all the method and finishing and you can hear her voice talking through each stage.  Chase made we one of these last year and I like to use it for carrying hand sewing bits and bobs on train journeys as it stands on the fold down table and holds lots of little pieces easily.  More patterns are on their way so keep a look out on her shop and blog.

She is also running a Pack Patch mini quilt along which is a little easy to follow project that creatively uses your scraps in a simple patch block.  Each week there are two themes to help you pull out your fabrics and tell a story with your mini. You can read more in the Flickr group

Photographs courtesy of Chase quarter inch mark

Chase doesn't know I've written this, she is very modest!  I just wanted to share!  Enjoy x
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Monday, 14 April 2014

Fashion Revolution Day: Heads Up

I recently had an email from Laura of Behind the Hedgerow, Abby of Things for Boys and Celina of Petit a Petit and Family, asking me if I'd like to take part in a  blogger's version of a virtual flash mob on 24th April as part of Fashion Revolution Day.  Read more about it here on Laura's blog.

Fashion Revolution day is about asking the question, "Who made your clothes?".  Its about thinking about the supply chain which is a provocative subject in itself, and raising awareness about a sustainable future within the fashion and clothing industry.  A big task but encouraging debate and thought, even just your own individual ponderings has to be a good thing.  As crafters we are all aware of what goes into making an item- bags, quilts, etc and can apply that awareness to clothing.  We must all be able to recall that uncomfortable feeling when we walk into a shop like Primark, and many others and see T Shirts for just £3 and wonder how can they be that cheap without exploitation somewhere along the way?  Part of the reason I make my own clothes is to do with taking more responsibility for my own consumption of goods.  

I do not claim any great ethical stance here, I know that the supply chain in quilting cotton is complex too but I know that I made most of my clothes and I had to think carefully about making each item, weigh up the cost, time, materials involved.  I also still buy cheap stuff sometimes when my daughter needs stuff.  Its all complex but we can still think about it and consider what we are consuming and whether we really need it.

Fashion Revolution Day Handmade

 Taking part is easy: all you need to do is wear an item of clothing- be it handmade or otherwise- #inside out (hashtag for sharing), take a photo and share via blog, twitter Facebook etc.   Handmade is especially welcome as one of the pleasures of sewing your own clothes is the attention you can give to the inside with a little floral binding or a contrast facing.  If you only make clothes for your children you could always photograph an item of their handmade clothes inside out on a hanger.    You can make your pledge here or just take part in some way on the day.  Find out more here.

And why 24th April?  Its one year since the collapse of the Rana Plaza textile complex in Dhaka, Bangladesh where over a thousand people died and many more were injured.  Enough said.

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Wednesday, 9 April 2014

April at Seamstar

Courtney has so many new fabrics, prints and patterns in this month at Seamstar I hardly know where to start, but the 10% discount she is giving this week on purchases of Leah Duncan's Meadow for Art Gallery fabrics does rather draw my eye- you have until 11th April (I think) to get your discount!

If you haven't seen or felt Art Gallery cottons before they are a little different to the usual quilting cottons; finer, silkier and suitable for dressmaking as well as quilting.  I have made a couple of dresses from them and they are soft and a pleasure to wear.

Another new set of fabrics are Robert Kaufman lightweight denims.  These are dressmaking weight, ideal for children and adult clothes and incredibly wearable colours.  Think chambray or poplin weight rather than jeans denim: suitable for dresses, shirts, trousers and also quilting and craft- bags, cushions,purses etc.  They are also wide width, so you do get good value especially for circle skirts and patterns which are best done with 55" rather than 44" fabric.  I like to use these for clothing and then I use the off cuts when I quilt.
It is helpful to read more about the denim and see their samples close up on the Robert Kaufman website.  This is the Railroad link, this is the Indigo chambray link and you can see clothing examples too.  I simply cannot have enough of these fabrics in my life!
Easter is nearly upon us, there are lots of bunny craft activities around - (see this beauty from Karen at Listen to the bird's Sing, and Courtney has used this theme for a very cute bunny kit for this month's Craft Club.

As well as the denims and Art Gallery fabrics, Courtney has started stocking Moda precuts this month.  There are Jelly Rolls- I like Jelly Rolls and Layer cakes when it comes to Precuts as they both contain a lot of fabric.  My favourite jelly roll is Bluebird Park- love the colours in this collection and the balance of patterns and cuteness:

And at the moment the layer cake on offer is Wren and Friends- lots of bright, small scale modern patterns.

For the dressmakers out there, there are Joel Dewberry patterns like this Vintage Flutter Dress 
which would be wonderful in either Meadow or the light denims and Courtney has other suggestions and supplies here.  Some sewing experience needed for this dress but it is relatively simple. 

And finally, perfect for Spring, the Michael Miller Birds of a Feather collection is lovely.  I think my preference is for the tessellating Birds print- it really is a good one.

I love what Courney is doing with Seamstar at the moment, the selection has really opened up, both for quilting and dressmaking and she has made great choices.  Offering all this and kits and projects is a lot of work and it really shows on the website,  Well done Courtney! 

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Tuesday, 8 April 2014

London super quick trip

I managed to squeeze in a packed trip to London last weekend, precipitated by Chinelo Bally: Sewing Bee winner-to-be? (*Edited to add* after some rather shouty comments from people who thought I had given away some TV secret: I am very sorry if you thought I had, I would never do such a thing, it was rather badly written- this is only a guess, I have no idea or pre-knowledge that this is the case and Chinelo certainly did not say a thing about the bee other than to mention that Claudia bakes great cakes and that she had discussions with Patrick about tailoring.  I will be watching tonight with my fingers firmly crossed for her) and free cutter dress maker, running a half day free cutting course in East London.  It was the end of term and the start of a couple of weeks free from the day job, I could not resist.  More to come on the free cutting class.  It was fascinating and I had the added bonus of meeting up with Rachel again there and meeting new sewing ladies, great, great fun!

I was staying with my brother with the luxury of visiting his new flat for the first time.  He knows London well and saves up activity ideas for me each time I visit and of course, there is no shortage of stuff to do.  This fence was near Brick Lane.  There are raffia hearts woven on too as well as the crocheted granny squares.

We wandered through the tourists and bizarre mix of food, bric-a-brac/tat, bikes, and hipster clothes on Brick Lane, then onto Columbia Road where Sunday is flower market day and everyone is walking round carrying either a substantial plant or a bunch of sunflowers.   I looked round for Beyond Fabrics which is at the far end, and bought these pretties.

Then on to the The Geffyre Museum of the home which is a lovely Sunday afternoon place to visit, packed full of middle class urban period drawing rooms/parlours and living rooms from the 17th century through to the 20th century- much of these can be seen on their website.  It had free entry with donation boxes to add your support to, and is charming museum full of period details.  The garden is a treat, recently reopened for the spring/summer season and replanted in many areas, it is just starting to burst with spring blooms and there is an imaginative choice of flowers and herbs, all beautifully displayed in a mix of styles.  I was very taken with the Auriculas and the eighteenth century style Auricula theatre, a traditional ornamental way of displaying flower in pots:

On our way outwards, this took my eye…

We headed off in the late afternoon for the Design Museum to see the Paul Smith exhibition.  This was fascinating, much more interesting than I thought it would be and said more about design and creativity than I imagined it would.  Hugely stimulating and a great visual treat.  There were two large walls facing each other, covered in images that inspire him, a mock up to what he has in his studio.

Two walls of exquisite menswear and women's wear.  With Paul Smith, the devil is the detail: tiny twists and turns to cuffs, buttonholes, linings and the highest quality fabrics throughout. 

Wonderful sculptural sleeve pleats in this women's military coat.

I also loved the subtly of the Shadow Lapel men's jacket- the shadows under the lapel and pocket flaps are actually very dark navy fabric- brilliant!

 A mock up of the working studio with textile samples and threads everywhere.

This method of creating stripes makes perfect sense.

What I came with most of all was from listening to the audio that was part of the exhibition.  Paul Smith described how he likes to travel, often spending only 24 hours in one place but going away with many sights and experiences.  He constantly takes photos of new colour combinations and recommends that to be creative we stick to what we like and not pay too much attention to what others are doing, even actively avoid looking.  This belief is very close to my heart.  Sadly, I find that Pinterest, although useful as a pinboard for specific tutorials and ideas, is also a sucker of originality and a rather bland similar aesthetic can result from the same pins recirculating and been reinterpreted and remade.  Its a difficult and potentially thorny topic, but I am sure you understand and maybe share my stance.
Thankyou to my lovely brother for his generous hosting as per usual x It was a great trip, packed into less than 48 hours.
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Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Gabriola in Chambray

I love a maxi skirt.  They go in and out of fashion but they are a permanent fixture in my wardrobe.   I have more maxi skirts than any other style.  I hate wearing tights and stockings and I love the length and romanticism of a long skirt, it brings out my inner Edwardian and Prairie girl. I l bought the Garbiola pattern as soon as I could and I already had 3 metres of chambray.  I love chambray too, by the end of the summer, I think I will have a wardrobe of chambray.  When I like something I tend to hit the repeat button...

I went through some ups and downs with this skirt.  I found the fit a bit weird- the hips are very generous, especially the upper bit of the hip.  I am a small pear shape- my top half is usually 8-10 and bottom half 10-12 depending on the pattern company and this skirt felt like my waist was one size and hips another.  I did make a quick test of the yoke and came out at a size 6 for the hips however, the quilting cotton I used to practice with was a different beast than the drapier chambray and I ended up altering as I want along on the real version, cutting pattern pieces down and taking the side seams in again and again an again, especially over the hips.

The shaped front is flattering.  I may be slim but I have a curved belly rather than flat tummy and this skirt works with that and seems to flow and curve over the body.  I wanted the waistband to sit a little lower than my natural waistband as I find that more comfortable and more flattering so my waist area is a larger size than my hip and I have graded a little between the two.  I used flat fell seams on the diagonal yoke pieces and the panel seams as a feature, to add stability to the diagonals and to make a smooth skirt inside and out- no serger threads to run- I have very sensitive skin.  I posted a tutorial on Instagram for this ( I am @verykerryberry)  but I'll post here soon too.  Flat fell seams are usually found on men's shirts and on the side seams of jeans as they are strong and durable.  They are not hard, they just need careful top stitching, let's just say the seam ripper is kept busy getting these nice and neat.

I felt proud of all my seam alignment, the seam style would emphasis anything that was out of whack so I was extra careful to line up, even through my additional seam alterations, taking in and fitting stages.  The waistband was rather upright and gaped a bit so I ended up opening the waistband our and  making a small shaped dart on either side of the waistband to reduce the fabric at the top edge by approx ½" on each side.  It does still gape a bit and drafting a shaped waistband piece would probably be a better solution.

I ummed and ahhed over the back zip and in the end I chose a contrast white as I had one to hand and a small overlap on the waistband using a little of the orange and white fringed selvedge to trim the edge.  This tutorial with Janet Pray (you'll find it 17 mins 36 secs into the video) is a great zipper insert tutorial and the method I used.

You really get an idea of the quantity of fabric in this skirt.  With quite a hefty reduction on the length, I cut the Gabriola out of 3 metres of 60" wide fabric.  Because the panels are gently flared and the fabric is on the floaty side, the skirt flows as I walk and is a pleasure to wear. I am a strider and a fast walker and this skirt was made for that.

The next one will be so much easier as all the pattern pieces have been altered and tweaked and I have 3 metres of black chambray that would be perfect, even if a little similar to this!  I might use a light contrast thread for the next one.

Here are the stats:
  • Sewaholic Gabriola pattern (Sewalong here)
  • 3 metres 60" Robert Kaufman Chambray Union fabric
  • Cut a mix of size 2 (hips), size 4 on side seams and size 6 at the waist so it would sit low
  • Hem cut on size 0 and then reduced further by 3 ½".  I then took up a ¾" hem
  • Woven cotton light interfacing strips on the back zip seams
  • Waistband overlap closure with plastic poppers

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