Two Weeks

Before we start, I should clarify that by two weeks, I don’t mean the super awesome song by Grizzly Bear. And if you don’t know what I mean by that, you should click here now so that you can listen to it. Go do it, I’ll wait.

Had a listen? Good, let’s get on.

So yes, two weeks. Two weeks today is 6th September. A date which is pretty important for me as it happens to be my birthday. And this year, it also happens to be a significant number of years since I first appeared on this planet (the same number of years since this was number one. Seriously.).

To celebrate, I’ve decided to throw a birthday party in a local pub and, as should be no surprise to long time readers of this blog / followers of mine on Instagram, the theme for the party is glitter.

I currently have nothing to wear. I also don’t have any free weekend time due to a combination of visiting family and going to a local music festival. I also don’t have anything to wear for dinner on my actual birthday, but that’s a whole separate issue.

I do however have three metres of silver sequins.

I think you can see where this is going….

Will I make it? I’ll let you know on Sunday 10th, but until then, the countdown is on.

x

If I had a crystal ball I could see the future, but as it is I guess I’ll guess

I’m not sure what happened, but one minute it was the first of June and now it’s the middle of July. Some of this is because I went away on holiday (and it was marvellous) and some of this is because I’ve been taking the time to pause, think, and reconsider what I actually want out of More Blue Fabric.

The first thing to say is that I want to (and I will) continue posting my finished projects, and doing it under the same format as before. I really like being able to look back through the things I’ve made, and, it might be my day job kicking in, but evaluating what was and wasn’t good about each make helps me think about what to do next.

That’s not all though, and one of the things that came out of thinking about what I blog and why I blog is that, fundamentally, it’s the act of writing and having a focus to the writing that I enjoy. With that in mind, I’m going to start introducing posts that are related to my sewing but look at different aspects of creating. I’ve got a couple of ideas for blog posts already (at least two of which I’d planned to write in June, but, life) as well as a new series of posts that, in an irreverent way, focus on the fact not everything goes right every time.

Running through all of this is an attempt to be more structured and organised in my blogging; one of the reasons I have a backlog of posts to write about finished projects is that carving the time out to blog hasn’t always been as easy as I’d assumed it might be. I don’t plan on making blogging a chore, nor is it going to be something that’s an ironclad agreement that I will have new posts with the regularity I’d like all of the time, but I do have a content plan. Which is a weird sentence to type and feels a bit incongruous with what is, ultimately, a floaty blog about floaty dresses. And yet….

And yet, I’m currently at a milestone point in my life (hello big 3-0) and, call it a third life crisis if you will, but I’m thinking about the things I do, the ways that I spend my time, and the way that I want to spend my time, and making changes when things don’t look like they’re quite the right fit any more. Sewing is a big part of how I spend my time, and I want writing about sewing to be something that is considered as a part of that time, not something that’s incidental. It’s about shifting the priorities and the order of things, altering the focus and looking at writing here as a form of making that is as important as the stitches that hold the fabric together. In doing so, I’m hoping it will also make me value the act of sewing all the more and build richer stories to share.

Which is all a bit of a rambley way to say that you can expect to see a fair bit more blogging going on round here. I hope you’ll stick around.

x

#2017usenine


It’s 2017. Goodness. Wherever did 2016 go?

With the approach of a new year, all sorts of resolutions get called, with people declaring that this is the year they’re going to lose weight, find a new job, run a marathon and all sorts of other big achievements that seem like a great idea when you’re fuelled by fizzy wine and it’s ten to midnight and you don’t actually think you want to do any of those things but it feels like a thing you should do.

Sometimes I think there can be a similar drive within the sewing community to commit to making all sorts of things over the course of the coming twelve months. We see the hashtag #2017makenine and all the plans other sewers have and get caught up thinking about our own plans.

For me, this has led to a #2017makenine but also a #2017usenine.

One of the things I am acutely aware of at the moment is that my stash is getting bigger and bigger, and that I keep buying new things with plans to use them, but then a new favourite comes along and pushes it to the side. So, with that in mind, I’m committing to using these nine fabrics in 2017.

These are actually all relatively recent purchases, but part of the plan here is that they don’t become like other parts of my stash where the drive has gone and they linger waiting for a new project (besides which, some of those are covered by my make nine pattern choices). I’m not saying I’ll use all of them, but it will certainly be interesting to see if I have when this time next year rolls around!

How about you? Do you have a #2017usenine alongside your #2017makenine?

(And for those interested, my make nine are: Sew Over It vintage shirt dress; Closet Case Ginger jeans; Simple Sew Trudy dress; Tilly and the Buttons Orla top; Deer & Doe Pavota jacket; Deer & Doe  Datura blouse; the Ripple Wrap Blouse from Rosie Martin’s No Patterns Needed; the Brighton skirt from Wendy Ward’s A Beginners Guide to Skirts; and a desire to finally use my bodice block and draft myself some more dresses)

X

Pearl & Dean have nothing on me

Well my dears, it’s been quite a while since I dropped by here. Some of that is work related, as things have really stepped up a gear over the last couple of weeks, whilst some of it is much fun and sewing related (although, in fairness, my job gets to be pretty fun too sometimes!

I’ll do proper updates on my recent makes over the coming few weeks, along with a few posts about the adventures I’ve had, but, like a series of adverts in the cinema, here’s what’s coming to a screen near you soon:

  • Two day dresses
  • A party frock
  • Possibly the greatest photo I have ever taken
  • Thoughts on meet ups
  • A series of unselfish acts (well, it is the most wonderful time of the year!)
  • Some resolutions for the future

And now, for today’s main feature; Hong Kong fabric shopping!

I was lucky enough to get to go to Hong Kong at the end of October. I went with my mum and dad, and had an absolute blast; we went to the Big Buddha, did a trip around some of the islands, went to the top of Victoria Peak, trawled the markets of Kowloon, rode the Star Ferry about thirty times (not enough times for my liking!) and generally ate and drank our way around a host of amazing places.

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On the cable car up to the Big Buddha

And of course, I managed to sneak in not one but TWO trips for fabric shopping.

The first was an organised trip of the most wonderful serendipity. It turned out that the wonderful Vicky was in Hong Kong at the same time as me, and, probably unsurprisingly, was also interested in a spot of fabric shopping. So, on the Thursday of our trip, along with my mum (and, much to his bemusement, my dad) we found ourselves in Sham Shui Po, probably the best area in Hong Kong for fabric shopping.

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(This is from a fab video Vicky made that you can find here)

Quite a few of the stores were wholesale, with an amazing array of coloured swatches hung up outside for people to take away and consult (I wanted to take the whole rainbow with me, but wasn’t sure what I’d do with one inch square pieces of fabric). Sadly, most of these places required you to order two to three days in advance of delivering the fabric, and coupled with my non-existent Cantonese it just wasn’t to be.

However, we did manage to find a couple of shops that were more like the fabric shops I’m used to. My absolute favourite was an Aladdin’s cave of a shop where Vicky and I were constantly in danger of having the rolls come tumbling on to us (and, indeed, in once case they did….). The shopkeeper added to the appeal, not least when, looking at my poor dad’s confusion about just why three women were going “oooh” at seemingly identical rolls of fabric, she offered him her seat!

I came away with a couple of interesting pieces, none of which have yet been made up, but which will all be revealed in time.

Then, the second trip was another act of serendipity. My dad had decided to get a suit tailored whilst we were in Hong Kong, and we were on our way to go and pick it up from the tailors. We came out of the metro and walked past another tailor. A tailor with a massive bounty; bags and bags of fabric, all neatly packaged up and all 50 HKD each. That’s a fiver. Five pounds. For high quality suiting and dressmaking fabrics.

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An actual treasure trove!

Needless to say, mum and I were on it like a pair of magpies, and I came away with some absolute beauties, including some blue Chinese silk brocade and leopard print sateen. There weren’t any guides as to how big each piece was, but I figured I’d at least get a top out of each piece. In actuality, each piece is at least two metres long meaning there’s some rather fancy dresses in my future.
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All the loveliness!

So there we have it; two really rather successful trips. Indeed, they were so successful that I couldn’t actually fit all the fabric in to my suitcase and had to put them in a second suitcase….. Thank goodness for Emirates’ 30kg luggage allowance!

x

A moment to think…

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(This was last autumn but that leaf carpet will be back soon!)

So here we are, September has come around and with it the first bluster of autumn.

I always feel like September heralds a new start (and not just because I’m a September baby), the air rich with the smell of freshly sharpened pencils and new school shoes.

Which is why now feels like a good time to pause, reflect, and think ahead for the coming months.

With that in mind, here’s what you can expect over the next few weeks here on More Blue Fabric:

  • Three new dresses that are already out in the wild
  • One dress that went not quite as planned
  • Some unselfish sewing (I know! Shocker.)
  • My first make for the Simple Sew Blog Team
  • (Hopefully) My first make for the White Tree Fabric Blog team

…And maybe the odd surprise too.

I hope you’ll stick around?

x

Time marches on…

Watch and case © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

My word. How time has marched on since I last put up a blog post! Quite a bit has happened over the last month and a half, not least the passing of 2015 into 2016. I’ll be putting up some more blog posts over the next few days / weeks to rectify my silence, but in the meantime, here’s what I’ve been up to since last we met:

  • I went sewing crazy through most of December, making a circle skirt, a cropped jumper, a jersey dress and the best part of a shirt dress
  • Father Christmas / My awesome mum bought me an overlocker (which, coincidentally, was used to make the jersey dress, but more of that soon)
  • During the Christmas break I rediscovered my love of knitting, not least because it was a very useful way to pass the time on the drive down to Dartmoor for New Year’s Eve (I wasn’t driving…). I’ve now got the bulk of a jumper back on the needles, with plans to redesign the jumper front when I get there. When I share the original and the redesign, the redesign won’t be a surprise!
  • I made a couple of resolutions for 2016. Unsurprisingly, two of them are sewing related. They are:
    • By the end of 2016 have a week’s worth of every day me-made clothes that I actually wear
    • Make a pair of jeans (argh!)

The week’s worth of clothes is an interesting one; I’ve already made quite a few pieces, but, like most new sewists, I’ve got the combined bugs of only-makes-dresses-and-skirts and overwhelmed-by-choice-so-buys-bold-patterns. I love wearing dresses and I also love patterned clothes. However, if I actually sit and think about what I wear most days, particularly in the winter, I should really add more plains/simple prints into the mix, and not just plain dresses, but a good, solid, jersey top pattern that I can remake and wear with skirts and trousers. That’s not to say I will stop making patterned clothing (I already have 3m of unicorn print fabric washed and waiting to be turned into a Sewaholic Cambie dress…) but I’ll be trying to offset my sewing of dresses that fall into the “super special” category with at least the odd “wear it everyday” item.

So there we have it; 48 days in a nutshell. How about you, what have you been up to in that time? Have you made any resolutions for the year ahead?

x

Speedy spooky sewing

1-green dress 1Ok, so I’ll be honest, I don’t really know what counts as spooky sewing, however this definitely counts as speedy sewing; in under three hours this morning/afternoon I managed to sew up a whole dress!

What is it?

A green shift dress that forms the basis for my Halloween costume next week; I’m going to go as Poison Ivy although I’m going for more of a 50s theme Ivy and a bit less flesh-revealing than the traditional comic book character…. I’ll be cutting a load of ivy down from out garden to wrap around myself and into my hair and making my eyes all green and sparkly to complete the look.

Is it blue?

Nope, green. How many ivy plants have you seen that are blue?

What’s the fabric?

Really nasty cheap polycotton that I bought for a previous costume

What’s the pattern?

The pattern is one I drafted myself in a copy-your-clothes class. The original dress is one of my favourite ever RTW items. What you can’t see in this photo (not least because I haven’t sewn them on yet…) is that there’s a false opening on the back held together by buttons. The only difference I made was to the skirt which is a bit tighter than the original, not least due to the limited amount of fabric I had!

Where’s the fabric from?

I think it was from Fancy Silk?

What was good about making this?

I was really pleased with a couple of things with this. The first was how quickly it came together. I didn’t have any bias binding but managed to figure out a bodge for hemming the neckline which I was chuffed with.

green dress 2Basically, I sewed baste stitches at the 5/8  seam, then used these to help me turn the hem, cutting notches as necessary on any curved lines. I then pressed it all and resewed at 3/8. I was also pleased with the gathers connecting the skirt to the bodice, especially as the back pieces don’t connect so I had to make sure they lined up as neatly as possible without actually joining them (that doesn’t make sense but would if you saw the back)

What was bad about making this?

Despite being a copy of a dress I already have, I don’t like the way the armholes sit when the dress is on, nor do I like where the bust darts are. It also seems tighter than expected, which is a bit of a worry.

Ultimately, although it’s a bit rough around the edges, I’m pleased with the speed that this came together. Besides which, once I’ve dressed it up with ivy and the like (and I’ll share pictures next week after the party) all the bodges and rough bits will be hidden and no-one will know!

How about you? Are you making a costume for the spookiest night of the year (possibly)?

Plotting and planning

This weekend has been one of plotting and planning for my next couple of projects. So, in a cryptic, not so cryptic way, here’s what I’ve been up to…

1) Green thread

3-threadMANY moons ago I measured up my sofa to make a new sofa cover and bought a load of fabric to make the sofa cover. This is what I looked like when I’d just bought all the fabric. To give you an idea of how long ago it was, this wasn’t taken in our old flat, it was taken in my old flat (i.e. over two years ago….).
sofa whoopsAnd since then it’s just sat in a bag. However, yesterday I finally bought some thread that matches the fabric. So maybe, just maybe there’ll be a sofa cover somewhere in the future

2) Orla

1-orlaI fell in love with Orla pretty much as soon as Tilly published it, and I’m pretty convinced it’s going to be perfect for some gorgeous Nani Iro double guaze I picked up in Japan over the summer. In a strange move for me, I’m going to make a muslin this time around.as I’m terrified about cutting into the fabric and want to make sure I have it absolutely right before I make the first scary cut.

3) Super secret secretness

blurryI had a planning brunch about this today. All I can say about this is it’s very secret, I’m excited about making it, and think it will be pretty darned amazing if I manage to pull it off!

4) Toiletry bags

2-filled toiletry bagsSo these are a bit different. A local group has been collecting a whole heap of items to send to those needing aid in Calais, Kos, Lesbos and Syria. Rather than just send the toiletries in huge boxes, they decided to make them into individual packs, each in a reusable drawstring bag containing a message of hope and peace. I volunteered to help make some of the bags, so this afternoon went along to take those I’d made so far and sew up another batch of 14 over the course of a couple of hours. Whilst we were sewing, other people were filling those bags already made and it was amazing at the end of the session to see just how generous people had been with their time and their resources (253 are being sent off this week!).

If you’re in the Birmingham area and would like to help, this is the group I’m helping with: https://www.facebook.com/groups/Kingsheathcollects/
Rosie (who is co-ordinating the work) may be able to help you find a collection nearer to you if you aren’t able to make it to the Kings Heath area

If you’re in the wider world and would like to help, I’d recommend using facebook as a way to find a grassroots collection near you, or alternatively take a look at the website of any of the many charities and organisations working in these areas, including the UN Refugee Agency, Save the Children and Oxfam