Electric Piano Cover

A couple of weeks ago, I tried adjusting some t-shirts that were too long for Jez, but it was a bit of a disaster.  The t-shirts had been bought before we moved, and since then we have both managed to loose quite a bit of weight.  Yay!

Unfortunately, this meant that the shortened t-shirts looked ridiculous.  I threw them back in the wardrobe to use the fabric for something else.  I’m now considering deconstructing them and rebuilding them in a smaller size, retaining the neck band if I can.  But that’s for another day.

Today, I completed my first successful sewing project in a long time, and I only started it yesterday.  I had some leftover fabric that I thought would make a good cover for my electric piano.  It came from some Ikea curtains I had shortened for my office.  Up until now I’ve just been using some cheap yellow and white spotted fabric that I impulse bought years ago to keep the dust off my piano.  It often slides off, and is a bit of an eyesore in the music room.

Yesterday, I started taking measurements and working out how to construct the cover.  I wanted to create something that would:

  • be easy to put on and take off,
  • fit around the attached music stand, and
  • not slide off.

Here are my doodlings:

I cut out the pattern pieces last night, although I wasn’t entirely sure how I was going to fasten the cover at the back.  I thought probably with Velcro, which I would have to order, but I thought I’d wait until I got to that bit to work it out.

This morning I started piecing it all together, and didn’t have any problems.  It all went together nicely and fit as I intended.

In the end, after chatting with Jez about it, I decided I would go for a Velcro fastening.  I’ve ordered some which should arrive on Monday.  In the meantime, the cover still does it’s job and I’ve just pinned it together with some fabric clips for now.

I particularly enjoy constructing covers from object measurements.  I’ve had two other examples of this with the Guitar and Bass Amp Covers and the Chair Cover for Cape Beauty, and they came together better than I had expected on both occasions.

It looks like I have the sewing and blogging bug back.  Hooray!

Summer Tweed Jacket

I had been keen to make a smart jacket to wear on cooler summer days for a while, but hadn’t thought that my skills were quite ready for that challenge.  Then I realised that I’d probably never do it, unless I just jumped in and had a go – that’s pretty much what happened with my first blouse.  I had already been browsing some jackets and coats in shops online and started to create a Summer Jacket Pinterest board to track the items I was drawn to.  I quickly refined my vision to a tweed jacket and found I had a suitable pattern in my collection that I hadn’t used yet (Burda Misses Jacket and Skirt 7135).  I’d picked it up on sale with the intention that one day I’d feel brave enough to attempt a suit for work.  The shorter jacket (view A) with welt pockets looked very similar to those on my Pinterest board, so I didn’t even have to pick up a new pattern.

My main fabric choice was a pink, black and cream tweed check, and I lined it with a silver paisley weave jacquard, both from Minerva Crafts, then added some metal filigree buttons in antique silver, which I knew were the buttons I wanted from the moment I saw them.  These all complemented each other perfectly for this project, although many times during the sewing I wished I’d chosen a different outer fabric.  The tweed was quite a loose weave, and made the finer details (like the welt pockets and sleeve vents) very fiddly, as it frayed so easily.  I’m really pleased with the end result though, and it was definitely worth any pain.

I made a very basic toile with only one sleeve – mainly to check the jacket and sleeve length.  The jacket length was great, but I took an inch and a half out of the sleeve.  I’ve always had trouble with sleeve length in RTW (ready to wear) clothes, so it was a great treat to make them to fit my shorter arm length.

There were quite a few elements in this jacket that were new to me, but I took each one slowly and was blown away with how well it all went.

  • I decided to make my marks with tailor’s tacks for the first time, which worked even with the loose weave fabric. It would’ve been impossible to mark this fabric any other way – pins dropped out when I tried them, and chalk barely left a mark.
  • The welt pockets frayed like mad, and I thought that I’d fallen at the first hurdle. With a few extra stitches, however, to hold things firmly in place, they came together better than I ever hoped.
  • Lapels of any type are new to me, and these peaked lapels really had me confused when I first looked at the instructions. Nevertheless, once I’d sewn the darts in place on the front body pieces and followed the instructions a step at a time, they came together without too much difficulty.
  • There was a lot of hand-basting needed, and although I’d done this before I hadn’t needed to do quite this much or use it to shape elements like lapels. I found this quite a meditative activity, as well as the hand stitching at the jacket and sleeve hems.  I have learned the value of basting, and I think I’ll use it more often when I’m aiming for high quality in my sewing.
  • I really enjoyed putting together the lining of the jacket, as I was able to let rip on the sewing machine, although initially I was very confused by the stitching at the centre back of the lining. I couldn’t figure it out at all, so I just stitched it as described, expecting to need to unpick it and try again.  I had a big ‘a-ha’ moment, however, when I realised it created a very neat pleat to allow room across the back when moving your arms, which avoids pulling the jacket out of shape or tearing the lining fabric.

DSC_0097I really love this jacket, but I’m not sure if I’ll dare wear it out and about for fear of damaging it.  This was my biggest challenge and my biggest success to date.  It’s too hot to wear it here right now, so I have some time to get over my fear, and just enjoy it.

Do you ever feel worried about wearing your hand made clothes in case of damage?  How do you get past it?


Jade Green Jumper

DSC_0105About 18 months ago I started on the first knitting project I’d attempted since my school days, when I started knitting myself a scarf that quickly turned into a scarf for my dolls as I got bored with its slow progress.  In December 2014, after adding some knitting blogs to my Feedly app, I decided that I like the idea of having a project that I could do in the evenings while listening to the radio and podcasts with my boyfriend, rather than being hidden away in my sewing cave.  One of my favourite fabric stalls at Leeds Market (B&M Fabrics) had recently opened up a shop on the outside of the Kirkgate Market building, and expanded to sell knitting supplies.  I picked what I thought would be a good beginners’ pattern (James C Brett – JB218) and some lovely soft jade green chunky wool (with Merino) and set about relearning how to knit.

I couldn’t remember anything from my youthful attempts at knitting, so I had to start from the beginning, teaching myself how to hold the needles, cast on, knit, purl and what the abbreviations in the pattern meant. Using some basic instructions that my mum had collected in the 1980s as a weekly subscription, and searching the internet whenever I got stuck, I managed to get myself started with the front body piece.  It was slow going and I had to restart several times before I had successfully cast on and worked even a few rows.  Just as I thought I was getting the hang of it I lost concentration and then something odd happened to my stitches.

I had no idea what I’d done, but I didn’t think it looked right, although I really didn’t know how it should look.  I quickly realised that trying to listen to a podcast at the same time wasn’t helping.  Then I dropped a stich – well I thought I’d dropped a stitch, but I couldn’t be sure. I increased my stitches by one in the next row just in case.  It wasn’t looking very even so decided to make this my back piece – I was happy with it being a bit rough as it was my first attempt at a jumper.

Eventually, my first piece was complete, except for the curved bottom and the neck trim, which are both added at a later stage.  Despite my hiccups along the way I was satisfied with my progress and looking forward to the front.  Everything went very smoothly with this next piece and I soon had the front complete.  Then I compared the two pieces.  My front was so much neater and more regular than the back, and it had been completed so much more quickly.  I had plenty of wool and so I decided to make a second back.  This came along nice and quickly, and I thought I’d easily have the jumper completed within a month.

Next came the sleeves and tackling two by two rib.  I had to cast this on at least eight times, as my first few attempts looked a complete mess, then I kept getting distracted and losing my place in the pattern. At some point in the first cuff I lost interest and the project was put to one side for several months.

Eventually, I came back to it and persevered until I had a nice looking ribbed cuff.  I popped this off onto a spare needle, and then completed the other cuff the same day while I could still remember what I was doing.  The rest of both sleeves came together nicely and I was really starting to enjoy the meditative effect of knitting.  Then came the trim.  I thought I’d picked a nice easy pattern, but this was where I became aware that it wasn’t.  At the bottom of the jumper you had to pick up stiches so you could knit a two by two rib curved bottom onto the jumper.  I started haphazardly picking up stitches, and before I was halfway along the curve I had more than the number of stitches advised, so I let it unravel and tried again.  After several attempts I wasn’t getting anywhere.  The bottom of the jumper was all stretched out of shape and any trim I’d managed to get on the bottom looked terrible.  I was losing my patience, and so again I put it away – this time for over a year.

DSC_0033It was now July 2016 – over 18 months since I first started this jumper, and it hadn’t turned out how I had hoped.  My previous work contract had finished on 30 June and I had been using my summer break to catch up on other projects and complete some UFOs (Unfinished Objects).  This seemed like the perfect time to deal with this jumper once and for all. I decided I was going to complete it, and in the worst case it would be a ‘house jumper’ – the wool is lovely and soft, so it would be great to wear, even if it looked a mess.  I had a quick practice on the first back piece to try to get the trim even – this time marking out lengths of six stitches so I could space them more evenly, then I leapt into the real back piece.  I managed to get most of the stitches that I needed picked up, but I lost track of the two by two rib somewhere along the rows and ended up with a strange shifted pattern.  I completed the trim  and then moved onto the front.

This came more easily and I managed to keep track of the rib to get the right effect.  I joined one of the shoulders and created the same two by two rib around the neck, then hand-stitched all the bits together.  The stitching was simple enough, and before I realised it I had my completed jumper.  It was better than I could have hoped.  I had some small holes at the neckline, but they would be fixed with a quick stitch or two, and the back trim was odd, but not too noticeable.  The pattern is ‘super chunky’, but the wool is just ‘chunky’, which may explain the problems I had picking up stitches for the trim and the holes at the neck line, and the whole jumper is quite loosely knit.  But that’s ok – I’ll use it as a winter layering jumper.  I’ll happily wear it out in public, and will proudly tell people it’s my first handmade jumper.  It’s just a shame we’re in the middle of a heatwave here in England.

DSC_0047Do you ever make clothes that are not fit for your current season, or do you try to make sure that they can be worn immediately?

Oh, and I made Tiffin. Mmmmmm!


Appleton Dress (#sewingdares)

I’d had the Appleton Dress in mind for a while.  I don’t generally wear dresses and skirts, but the promise of secret pyjamas had been calling to me.  When I joined in with the sewing dares (#sewingdares) on the ‘Crafting a Rainbow’ blog, and Gillian suggested a Cashmerette pattern it felt like a sign.

DSC_0124I’d had plans for a sewing date with my friend Catherine, who has just started sewing, and so we decided to both make an Appleton Dress.  Due to lack of space, and general chatter and tea drinking time, we only got as far as cutting out our pieces, so no actual sewing was done on this sewing date.  It was still great fun and to be repeated when we can synchronise diaries again.

The pieces sat for a while until the end of my last contract on 30th June, but then I attacked it with vigour.  I decided to use a zigzag stitch on my sewing machine rather than the overlocker, in case I needed to take it out as I thought I was pushing the sizing over the hips a bit. As it turns out the caution wasn’t needed.  I’m really happy with how it turned out and have plans to make more, once I’ve tackled some of the things from my Me-Made-Made review list.

I think this may be the very dress I need to get my legs out this summer, and with a modesty vest it may even be wearable for work when I get my next contract – which I’m hoping to put off until September to allow for plenty of sewing time.

Have you done a Sewing Dare? How did it work out for you?


Pirate PJs for Jez

DSC_0039.JPGWhen I came across this fabric on the Minerva Crafts website I couldn’t resist it for some PJ bottoms for Jez – he loves pirates.  I set out make him a set of PJs using the ‘Margot Pyjamas’ pattern from the ‘Love at First Stitch’ book for the bottoms and the Simplicity 2116 T-shirt I’d used for his stripy t-shirts.  In the end, I just bought a plain black t-shirt, as I didn’t have much time and he was keen to start wearing them.

As this is the fourth time I’ve made the PJ bottoms, there isn’t much to say about them, other than it works perfectly for men too.  I am generally a selfish sewer (sewist?), but Jez’s joyful reaction when I make things for him means I love sewing for him as much as for myself, maybe even more.

How often do you sew for your significant other?


Mint Green Wallpaper Blouse

DSC_0027Since realising that I didn’t have much me-made clothing I could wear on a regular basis, I had been feeling inspired to complete a UFO (unfinished object) that’s been hanging around for a while.  This would also give me another blouse to wear during May at work.

There isn’t too much to say about this project, as it’s the fourth time I’ve made this pattern.  I’m really pleased with the fabric choice on this one though.  It’s not a colour I’d usually choose, and although I thought the fabric pattern looked a little like flock wallpaper, I think it looks really striking made up as blouse.

I feel like I’m getting better at imagining fabric and patterns together, and my awareness of clothes around me is growing.  In the same way that playing music has improved my ear for listening to music, I think sewing is developing an interest in fashion that I haven’t had before.  I love flicking through blogs to see what other people are making, and browsing the web for inspiration for my future makes.

Once I figure it out, I’ll add a favourite blogs page to my site, so you can enjoy them too.


Pink Gingham Cushions

DSC_0036.JPGDue to being busy at work and too tired to do much once I got home, I’ve had a dry spell of sewing.  I’ve had some homemade patchwork cushions hanging around in my sewing cave that I made years ago, and the cats had been using to sleep on when they  watch me working from home.  They were made from all kinds of fabric reclaimed from old clothes, including jersey fabric that I hadn’t stabilised.  I loved them, but they were misshapen and covered in cat hair, so one day I just decided to get rid of the covers and keep the cushions to reuse them.

The cushions hung around nude for a while, before I decided to deal with them and do some stash busting at the same time.  I had some pink gingham fabric that had been around almost as long as the cushions and I thought it would make a good inner cover to refresh the now floppy, sad-looking, naked cushions.  I had every intention of making newer, more interesting cushion covers that could be removed and washed, but I liked the look of these cushions so much when they were finished that I decided to call them finished.  It made a nice quick make and I hoped it would be the beginning of more sewing.
It felt good to start and finish a project in one day.



Ginger Jeans

DSC_0031My last post gave you an insight into my next project.  I’ve been really keen to have a go at Ginger Jeans, since I’ve seen them popping up in many of the blogs I read regularly.  My curvy figure struggles with most RTW (ready to wear) trousers – too tight on the hips and thighs, and gapping at the back waist – so I’ve been hoping this is the answer to uncomfortable jeans.

I started by making a toile from my ‘cream cord with olive green flowers / leaves and bright yellow squiggles’ fabric.  The intention was for these to be a wearable toile, but I shouldn’t have needed hindsight to tell me that they are not my usual style.  Anyway, as cheap as the fabric was (special offer from Minerva Fabrics), wearable or not wasn’t really an issue.

DSC_0030I fDSC_0029ound the whole process of making the Ginger Jeans, from download of the pattern,
through the crazy toile, to the final making in blue denim with gold top-stitching as real pleasure.  As the instructions note, I am now a Sewing Ninja – I made jeans!  They fit really nicely, Jez even says they look like the best fitting jeans he’s seen me in.  I’m especially proud of my top stitching.pic 1.jpg

I did wear the cord version out once to test how they fit in action (on a Boxing Day trip to Whitby), and due to the pattern and the comfort I felt like I was wearing pyjamas.  The only problem with the fabric was that the ridged fabric rubbing between the thighs made the walking harder work.  My proper denim pair are usually being worn or in the wash, and I think the pattern will make the
perfect secret jeans for work, if I use some stretch suiting fabric.  If I can find a jacket pattern that will work, I’ll use the same fabric and make myself a suit(!), then I would truly be a seasoned Sewing Ninja.

Have you made Ginger Jeans?


Stretch Corduroy for the Home (and Van)

Bac2016-07-22 (1)k in June, I got a really good deal on some stretch corduroy fabric at Minerva Fabrics.  I bought 7 metres, without giving any thought to what I might use it for.  It arrived and I immediately regretted it as I stashed it away – it took up loads of space and I had no idea what I’d do with it.  Well, I needn’t have worried…

The first project was a van curtain, using the brown fabric.  In the summer, we bought a new (to us) van, with the main purpose of transporting our band equipment to gigs.  This second-hand van had been kept very clean in the back, and so we have also been using it for autumn picnics (cheese and pickle sandwiches and a flask of tea, snuggled under a blanket in the back, gazing out over the Yorkshire countryside, after a brisk walk through the fallen leaves).  We also have plans to use it for camping when the weather gets better next summer, so I took one the pieces of fabric I bought to make a hefty, light obscuring curtain to go behind the seats.  It worked perfectly, blocking out the van contents from the outside and creating a homely feel inside.

The second project was a set of three duvet bags using the cream with brown squiggles fabric – not to be confused with duvet covers.  We don’t have a spare room with a bed in, as we use our two spare bedrooms for our hobbies.  We have futons we can use in the music room and sewing room, and a sofa bed in our living room, but the spare bedding is stored in heavy duty garden waste bags on top of the wardrobes in our bedroom.  These bags tend to tear when the bedding is removed and when it’s squeezed back in, and also adds an unpleasant plastic smell.  After our last visitors, Jez was squeezing the freshly washed bedding back into one of the bags and it sDSC_0012.JPGplit completely down one side.  He mused that it would be much easier if we had fabric bags that wouldn’t split – could I make some?  Well, the stretch corduroy was just the fabric for the job.  I made up three circular based bags with draw strings to hold covered duvets, pillows and bottom sheets for each of the beds.  They look much more attractive on top of our wardrobes too.

The third project for this versatile fabric is yet to be made up.  I’ll be using it to create a (debatably) wearable toile for the Ginger Jeans pattern – cream cord with olive green
flowers / leaves and bright yellow squiggles, for those crazy days.

(This is another of my back dated posts – I’m hoping to post in a more timely way in future.)

Do you ever buy fabric because it’s a bargain, when you have no idea what you’ll use it for?


Replacement PJ Bottoms

I find that my pyjama tops last longer than my bottoms and, in the past, I’ve thrown out perfectly good tops, just because my bottoms are no longer wearable.  In October, I had two pairs of PJ bottoms wear out.  I realised that I could use the ‘Margot Pyjamas’ pattern from the ‘Love at First Stitch’ book, by Tilly Walnes of Tilly and the Buttons, to quickly replace them.

The first, and only, pair of Margot PJs I’d sewn were made with woven fabric, and although they are very comfy, I find stretch PJs much more comfortable.  I bought some pink & white stripe and some black & white check jersey fabric, and very quickly had them made up using my overlocker and twin needles on my sewing machine.  These were a quick, practical make and I’m really pleased with the results.DSC_0008

(As this is a post-dated blog entry, these PJs have since worn out with constant wear and I don’t have any photos, so here is a photo of the fabrics.  That’ll teach me to put off my blogging for nine(!) months.)

Have you extended the life of a matching set by replacing the worn out parts?