. . . . . . A place to contribute, exchange tips and ideas and find further info on the LDC group on Meetup.

Saturday, 28 January 2017

Sew Small- and use up those scraps.

There are times when you need to think small. When you just can't face or don't have the space to make something that takes more than half a metre, when you are confronted with a growing pile of scraps that you cannot bear to throw out, when you need something small to take with you when travelling, when you want to play around with fabric - those are the times I am thinking about.  If you have small children for whom to sew you may have a ready outlet for this type of sewing - bibs, caps, coverall aprons for messy play, toys, pencil cases for school.  Cushion covers, pot holders, coasters  are all possibilities but there is a limit to the number you need for your own home. Thus I am pleased that I decided to take a doll-making class with the multi-talented Maria Anderson-Contreras, pictured here during a class break, at the end of November 2016.

That's my effort in the foreground on the way to completion .  All the materials needed were provided in the workshop so I didn't have to remember to take anything with me.  The doll pattern is simple as the the legs and arms are not separate pieces, here it is laid on calico ready to be cut out.

As directed I sewed around the doll, reinforcing the stitching at the necessary points, leaving a section unstitched at the top of the head where the stuffing would be inserted.  The face of the doll had been ready painted by Maria, there is no way that I could get such a lovely face.

My initial idea, when I booked the workshop, was that I could make dolls with the features of family and friends taken from photographs digitally printed on to the cloth but Maria pointed out that the proportions of the features on a doll are different to those of an adult and my idea would not work or be attractive.  Better start practising drawing faces!  Once I had clipped the seams in the appropriate places and turned the doll right side out, it was time to start stuffing.  This was made easier by using straight forceps to get the stuffing down the narrow arms and legs.  These are inexpensive items, £3- £5 depending on the length, available from medical suppliers and fishing tackle shops (they are used by anglers to get hooks out).

Hair is made from knitting yarn and applied with glue, although I used a combination of glue and stitching.  Once applied you can style the hair as you  wish, long tresses, plaits, a bob- the choice is yours.  I decided on a chignon.
Next it was time to make some clothes from the tiny patterns provided - a sleeveless top and a full gathered skirt with a ribbon tie at the back.  I only had time to get halfway with completing these- too much time chatting and tea drinking!  I intended to make these up swiftly but Christmas preparations and minor illnesses intervened and I have only just given the doll some clothes.  Here is the front and back views of her in the floral two piece I started in the workshop. I made a tulle petticoat to go underneath.

Here she is in casual gear, a cotton top (from the same top pattern but with extended arms and slightly looser fit) and denim skirt.
The tops are fastened with tiny strips of velcro and the skirt with a tiny press fastener. 
I am not happy with my attempt at shoes, made with red felt, so I will experiment further.  Meantime I am thinking of making her a shift dress in this bright striped jersey scrap - I am sure I will have fun playing about and sewing things for her. She can be my alter ego and wear all those items I no longer can or the styles I fantasise about. 

I may even become addicted to doll making, as Maria has.  Anyone interested in taking a workshop like this or having a personal lesson or commissioning a doll can find more information on Maria's web site 
And what about scraps of knitting yarn, as I know many of us knit as well.  My solution, a godsend in this frosty weather, has been to make Mobius Twist Headbands in crochet following the instructions on Youtube from Oana's crochet Channel .  You can make them as wide as you like and wear them with the twist in the front or back.  How my ears have thanked me for these, a few of which you can see below.  Even a beginner can make one quickly.

And finally, another cold weather scrap make - gloves.  They do not have to be one colour, in fact the more stripes the better in my opinion.  These are knitted on two pins using yarn of the same tension and I knit them both at the same time, using yarn from the beginning of the ball for one glove and the end of the ball for the other so the stripes will match in width and thus I do not have to calculate how much to use on each glove but just knit until there is not enough yarn left to complete a matching row on each glove.  They don't have to match at all and I am inclined to have odd coloured fingers in my next pair. Just remember to knit one shaped for the left hand and one for the right hand.

Anyone have any tips for using small pieces of fabric or knitting yarn?  Perhaps you can tell us about it in a comment below and then post a photo on our club web site in the Member's Makes  Album.

Friday, 27 January 2017

London Dressmakers Club meetings

Do you live in or near London and fancy coming to our monthly meetings?

This is the link: London Dressmakers on

We schedule the monthly meetings between Tuesday and Thursday per quarter so anyone with a regular evening class is able to attend at least two out of three. January's meeting was on a Tuesday, February will be a Wednesday and you can guess what weekday the meeting in March will be. The following quarter we start over, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday.

You may not have heard of Southwark, it is the tube stop between London Bridge and Waterloo - extremely conveniently only a few minutes from central London. Our meeting place is a lovely cafe under the arch in Isabella Street. Detailed directions are in the Pages section on the Meetup site.

Someone will be there from 6pm and we usually stay until at least 8.30pm if not even 9 o'clock. The get togethers are very informal: you can turn up whenever you want to and leave at any time. There is no agenda and no program.  We sit and chat about all things sewing (and all sorts of other stuff), the meetings are very social.

We are obviously not able to bring sewing machines along. We haven't found a venue that would be affordable so EV is as good as it gets. The staff are lovely and let us get on with it (we hope we are good customers for them) - many of us have some kind of craft project with us. Maybe hand sewing or mending, basting or similar things - or something other than sewing. It is up to you. New people who join us often say that they wish they had brought their own craft project. We seem to be quite motivating in that respect!

Hopefully in other respects too: we love to share our love, enthusiasm and knowledge of sewing. So if you ran into a dressmaking issue and need some advice, ask us. Even if no-one knows, we may know of somewhere to look. Some of us are keen on pattern drafting too, others are into making costumes more than everyday clothes. The group's members are a varied lot and we love meeting new people. So don't be shy, come along and see what the meetings are like.  We don't charge the (very small annual) membership fee on the first evening, if you like it and come back then I much appreciate the contribution towards the organiser's fee that I pay to Meetup.

Do you live too far to travel to meetings but you would love to be part of things?  Check out our sewalongs - they are virtual events that we don't meet up for.  We pick a theme of what to sew and participants can then post comments to share what they are hoping to make, or ask questions if they want - we usually get quite a lively exchange going. There is also a photo album that anyone can post a picture of their item to - lots easier to show then try to describe something.

The sewalongs are posted for a two week period, this is the longest that Meetup allows an event to be scheduled. Sometimes we put on a second part if we feel that some members would like more time.

The current sewalongs are about checking through unfinished projects, known as UFOs, to decide what to do with them (Part 1 is almost over (January 2017), Part 2 is here March 2017). There is a separate sewalong for picking a UFO project and finishing it (February).

One of our members suggested a sewalong to Make Two garments from the same pattern: two different versions, or a toile and the actual project, or any other kind of making two things that you only need to mess around with for the fitting once. This is also in February, immediately after the other February sewalong.

We also post monthly reminders about Sewing Resolutions that we hope will motivate us into great progress - you can also take part in these by posting in the comments. There is one a month so please check the general website.

Are there any questions about the group that I haven't answered?  Please let me know in the blog comments underneath this. Thank you.

Hope to see you soon.

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Tilly & The Buttons Cleo Dungaree Dress Part 3- In which I sew another version.

I was so pleased with my first version, like so many other sewing bloggers, that I decided to go ahead and make another, learning from my original effort. and making a few changes.
The fabric was a faux snakeskin in a bronze colour with a sheen, purchased about three years ago for a pittance at 34 Market Row, Brixton.  I did away with the centre front and centre back seams, as such seams would detract from the effect of the fabric, and added some length.

To  leave some walking room, as I was making a longer version, I left slits at the bottom of the side seams but rounded the side edges for a shirt tail effect.

 I also drafted new hip pockets with rounded bottoms echo that hem style.

I fully lined the dress and applied the fusible interfacing to the inside of the lining.  Below you can see the inside back of the Cleo.

The lining was from the Sewing and Craft Store by Tooting Bec tube station and was such a gorgeous purpley bronze colour that the photograph doesn't do justice. I would love to use it to make something you can see, it's ex-Jigsaw and so soft and smooth.  The buttons, which have an unusual concave shape, came from Simply Fabrics, Brixton. 

Unfortunately I can't take a photograph of it being worn as I have no "volunteer" photographer to hand today.  I cannot even take one of the dress on my Adjustoform Tailor's Dummy as the shoulders are too wide to get the dress on it.  This just shows that, helpful as they may be, these type of dummies cannot reproduce you exactly, I always have to do a narrow shoulder adjustment to garments I make. The best I can do is below.
I have enthused before, in the previous parts of this particular blog, about this pattern.  Not only is it easy to make and has no zips, darts, gathers or pleats to contend with but it is takes very little fabric and could be a stash buster, especially if you do a short version, - imagine it with contrast pockets and straps, using two fabrics, maybe two different colour denims, and dividing it horizontally, vertically or creating panels.  Let your imagination run wild! One day there may even be a part 4 to this blog if I make another.
Have you made a Cleo?  We would love to see a photograph of it in our Member's Makes Photo Album on The London Dressmakers Club Meetup site.