Back to Blogging

It has been several years since I last posted in the Vivid Kitty blog, but it feels more like several lifetimes. My previous posts were very personal and came at a time when my life felt out of my control. My enjoyment of sewing and the support that came from blogging both helped me through that difficult time.

When my life moved on I very quickly stopped sewing and blogging, mainly from a lack of inspiration. I was really only making tote bags and blogging about my woes at that time.

Now, over four years later, I have a very different life. I am settled and happy, and I have several hobbies that are beginning to stand the test of time. Sewing is one of my favourite ways to spend my time, especially now I’m expanding my skills and making clothes that I can wear. When I’m not in my sewing cave, I love reading the many sewing blogs that exist, whether written by professional or amateur sewers.

And now I have decided to add blogging back into my list of hobbies. Now that I’ve removed my old, embarrassingly personal, posts, I’ll provide a quick catch up of the sewing projects I have undertaken since the renewal of my hobby in April 2014 (all posts dated before this one). Then, I’ll just see how things develop.

This blog is mainly just a record for me of my projects and sewing thoughts, and I have the intention of posting on the completion of each new project and joining in with some of the community events that occur in the sewing bloggers’ world.

Unfortunately, I’ve just missed Me-Made-May, but I’ll probably still post on it anyway.


Red Monkee’s Shirt

monkeesMy boyfriend is an amazing musician who loves the music of the 1960s, as well as many other genres.  He has always wanted a Monkee’s shirt, but has never been able to find one.  I’ve googled for them and they are really hard to find.  There are some hand-made ones available online, but they are very expensive and tend to ship to the US only …so I decided to have a go myself.

Jez wanted to be involved in the design process to ensure that it was a close as possible to the originals.  He found me some photos online and stills from his Monkee’s DVDs, so we could look at the shirts in detail.  We quickly noticed that there seemed to be several styles of shirts.  Some had the button up fronts, while others were worn open, and there were several lengths.  The key features were the eight button front bib, three button cuffs and square bottom hem with side splits.  We took our time finding just the right buttons for both the front and the cuff.Monkee's Shirt

The original Monkee’s shirts were designed by Gene Ashman, and as they were inspired by the shirt John Wayne wore in many of his movies, a western shirt seemed like a good place to start.  I used the Eagles View Western Bib Shirt and cut out size XL.  I made a very quick toile, for fitting and to test the making of the v-neck, collar and the sleeve cuffs – I’d never made sleeve cuffs before.  Then, I just worked my way through the instructions on the pattern for everything except for the bib. I simply sewed together two rectangles of fabric for the bib, after completing the rest of the shirt, so we could judge the correct size more easily.

Monkee's Shirt (in action)The fabric I used was a red twill, and the thickness made turning the collar and cuffs out and getting sharp corners quite difficult.  When I was creating the button holes on the cuffs I realised that I should have removed more thickness from the seams, as I had quite a bit of trouble getting the automatic buttonhole foot to work correctly due to the fabric bulk.  I’ll note that for future and probably use thinner fabric too, although this shirt will be really hard-wearing and last a long time.  We were both pleased with the results in the end, but I think I’ll wait a little while before I make another.

How many Monkee’s shirts does one musician need?


Red Knit T-Shirt

Red T-ShirtDo you remember the Purple and Green Scribble T-Shirt that I made back in September 2014?  I have finally returned to this pattern and attempted to adjust it to create a more flattering t-shirt.  It might even be something that I’d dare to wear out of the house.

I had some red knit fabric in my stash that I thought I could use for this.  It was a little thinner than I’d have liked, but it was ok for another wearable toile.

I tried on the Purple and Green Scribble T-Shirt and pinned away the gaping at the arm holes and the neck line.  Then I adjusted the pattern pieces to be closer to these shapes and added some extra length.

I quickly whizzed it together with my overlocker and did some double needled hemming on my sewing machine.  Ta da!  I have another t-shirt that will never venture out of the house.  It is better than the previous one, but still not good enough for public display.  The fabric was slippery to sew and the neck line has ended up a bit skewed.

I think I’ve learned my lesson for now.  I should stick with patterns drafted by people who know what they are doing …for now anyway!


Musical Christmas Blouse

BlousamundoOne of my favourite Christmas gifts this year was some gorgeous musical fabric, from my boyfriend.  He thought it would be a good fabric to make another of my McCalls M6036 blouses and I couldn’t wait to get started.  I picked up some buttons and got to work.

There isn’t too much to say about the sewing, as I’ve blogged about this pattern twice before, only that it is proving to be a great TNT pattern.  Unsurprisingly, I completed this one quicker than my other two, even taking into account the time used to neaten the seams with my overlocker.  This was the first time that I’d used the overlocker on a garment and I was really pleased with the results, although it was very scary finishing that first seam – cutting and sewing at the same time, oh my!

Well, I ended up with another great blouse.


Green Heart Skirt

Green Heart SkirtHere is another ‘Clemence Skirt’ from ‘Love at First Stitch’ by Tilly Walnes of Tilly and the Buttons.  I finally built up the courage to tackle another invisible zip …but what a mess!

This skirt went along very similar lines to the last one.  Fun with the gathering …putting in the zip with a zipper foot …trying it on and praise from my boyfriend …disaster as the zip refuses to budge and yet again cutting myself out of the skirt!Green Heart Skirt 2

After much googling about trouble with invisible zips, I decided to invest in an invisible zipper foot and see if that would help.  Well, it did! The zip went in much more easily that before and continued to work after putting on the skirt.  I find that going up and down is quite a useful feature of zips!

Fingers crossed that it works every time.  I am hopeful, but I’ll have to wait for the next attempt to find out.


CSC Holiday Sewing Swap

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’ve been reading quite a variety of sewing blogs since turning back to my sewing machine.  One of my favourites is the Curvy Sewing Collective.  They have some great posts about all aspects of sewing in plus sizes and encourage a very supportive sewing community, with posts from regular contributors and sharing of makes from many different blogs.  This month I came across a post about a Holiday Sewing Swap.  Simply, you register your interest and are then paired up with another participant to exchange gifts.  You exchange emails and get to know a little about each other, then send each other a pattern, and some fabric and/or notions from your stash that you think they would like.

perkinsCSC catI was paired up with Andie from Sew Pretty in Pink, who lives in Canada, and we exchanged some lovely emails.  We seemed to have quite a lot in common too.  Such as: cats (who help me to knit and to wrap Andie’s gifts); sci-fi; 50s fashion; Jane Eyre…

We both discussed our desire for a 1950s wiggle dress and I received a great pattern which will make a fabulous rockabilly dress (I have some perfect turquoise spotty fabric for this) and some lovely fabric that I’m intending to use for a gypsy style top, once I have perfected the pattern – the fabric is too nice to waste.

I’ll be looking out for more of these sewing swaps, as they are a great way to connect with people in the online sewing community.


Chair Cover for Cape Beauty

One of my very good friends decided to become self-employed earlier this year.  She is an incredibly good beauty therapist and masseuse, and I would recommend Astrid of Cape Beauty to anyone who can get to Selby in North Yorkshire for an appointment.  She has recently moved to new premises and has been busily preparing her treatment room.  One of the items that she has in her room is a comfy chair, but the covering didn’t match the new colour scheme, so I offered to make her a cover.  I took away the old cover and some fabric she had chosen, and got started on the project.

Astrid's ChairI’m not sure why I took the cover without even looking at the chair, but I had to do the best I could just measuring parts of the cover.   It had been made by her grandmother and so I wasn’t going to unpick it.  When it was complete, I dropped it off with Astrid at her home, and promised to make any alterations that might be required – I was very concerned that it would be too small, as she’d told me that the old cover was a very tight fit.  I’d resisted adding in any extra ease to my measurements, just in case, as I didn’t want it to be too loose, but I was beginning to wonder it this was a good move. I was relying on the accuracy of my measurements and precise sewing, and I was incredibly relieved when arrive at work the next morning and sent me this photo…

Phew! Next time I will definitely take measurements from the item of furniture to avoid unnecessary panic, but this time I got away with it.  I was pleased with the end result and, more importantly, so was Astrid.


Rockabilly Blouse

Rockabilly ShirtSince my first attempt at making a blouse (Red and White Spot Blouse) I’d always intended to make another, and this was the perfect first project for my new sewing machine.  It has an automatic button hole function, so I didn’t need to worry about creating them manually at the end of the project.

I had some skulls and flames fabric in my stash which would make a perfect rockabilly blouse, again using McCalls M6036 (size 22 – D cup).  I didn’t make any adjustments from the previous blouse, as I was lucky enough for this size to fit me straight from the pattern.  It took half the time that I spent on my first blouse, although it took over a month in actual time due to my busy schedule.

Everything went perfectly with this project – I believe that I have found my first TNT pattern.


Happy Birthday to Me!

Brother VX809Happy Birthday to me!  I promised myself that if I continued to sew until my birthday, that I’d treat myself to a new sewing machine.  Up until now, I’ve been using my mum’s old brother sewing machine (Brother VX809).  It has worked perfectly well, but from reading all the sewing blogs I’ve followed, I’ve learnt that with a new machine I could have many magical things, including: automatic tension settings, invisible zip feet, automatic button holes, and stitches other than straight and zigzag.  Then there are other considerations such as whether I want to be able to do embroidery and do I want an overlocker for stretch fabrics and finishing seams.

janome memory craft 5900The idea of being able to do my own embroidery, especially creating my own designs, was really exciting.  I spent a long time researching machines and finally decided that I was unlikely to want to do embroidery often enough to justify spending extra money on an embroidery machine. Embroidery doesn’t really figure in my style and it’s not something to do on a whim, given the cost of the threads.  I’d get a much better machine if I didn’t get a combination sewing and embroidery machine, and the software for creating your own designs is really expensive too.

After more research online, I decided that I wanted the Janome Memory Craft 6600P which was just within my budget and I set about finding somewhere local I could buy it.  I like to buy local whenever I can.  I was recommended the Janome sewing machine sales and service unit in Leeds Kirkgate market and they were fantastic.

janome 9300dxThey first questioned whether I really wanted that model, since it was very heavy duty and taking their advice I ended up with a different and cheaper model – the Janome Memory Craft 5900.  This left me with some budget for an overlocker, and again taking their recommendation (Janome 9300dx), I placed my orders.  To avoid any unnecessary suspense, I’ll tell you now that I couldn’t be happier with my choices.  They are amazing – this is one of my pre-dated posts and I’m writing this over a year after I got my new machines.  It didn’t take me too long to get used to them and I quickly learnt to re-thread my overlocker, after one of my cats broke into my sewing room and ‘kindly’ unthreaded it for me.  It’s not as hard as everyone makes out, although there was some unrepeatable language at my first attempt!

What machine do you use?  Do you have a machine that you dream about owning?


Patchwork Cushion Covers

Cushion Covers (front)We recently bought a new sofa to replace the one that my mum gave me when I moved into the house nearly four years ago.  It had lasted well considering it was second-hand, but it was beginning to sag.  The new sofa came without cushions, and being purple (the old sofa was red), the cushions we had wouldn’t match.  More practical uses for my sewing hobby – fantastic!

I had previously made some patch work cushions out of old clothes and fabric remnants, which turned out okay, but looked very home-made.  There was some knit fabric among the pattern and I hadn’t used anything to stabilise it.  This meant there were parts of the cushions that had bagged out in strange ways. The cats didn’t seem to mind and found them comfy enough cushions for the office window sill.

Cushion Covers (back)With these latest cushions I decided to use new fabrics and triangular patterns.  I drafted and measured the pieces out, then laid out all of the pieces to figure out the best placement, with some help from my boyfriend.  I had five different patterns.  I decided that I would make the back of the cushions from a single piece of four of the fabrics, and then the fronts would be a patchwork using the four other fabrics not on the back.  That way the four cushions would definitely be a set.

The whole thing went very well, except that they were a bit baggy on the cushions when completed, so I ordered some more cushions and sewed two together for each of the covers.  I decided for simplicity, and to avoid any zips or buttons that might stick out uncomfortably when hugging the cushions, that I would just hand sew to close them up.  It would be easy enough to unpick and re-sew when the covers needed washing.