Before I started making clothes, I used to make tote bags. They were a simple design that was easy to repeat and to customise with all kinds of applique, some simpler than others – like my current music book bag, which is a design cut from a favorite worn out t-shirt. I use this bag to carry around all my ukulele music books, many of them created by my boyfriend (such as ‘Ukulele! – The Strummers Guide‘ available on Lulu and Amazon. All profits go to Save the Children). My boyfriend asked if I could make him a manly version of this bag, so he can carry around his books too.
I started with the red twill that was left over from his Monkee’s shirt and added a black and white musical note lining. I hadn’t mad one of these bags for a while so it took a little longer than it used to, but it was soon complete …then I noticed that the straps were sewn in the wrong way round! I really do need to take a little more care.
Quite understandably, my boyfriend asked if I could turn them around, and while I had the lining detached I was able to add an applique design. Jez drew a skull and cross bones pattern, which I cut it out of the red twill and sewed onto a square of the musical fabric ready to attach to the bag.
It worked out really well in the end and I have plans to make another bag with a ukulele design on, to hold the books we have for sale.
After my success with my Green Paisley Gypsy Top, I decided to make two more using the Butterick B4684 pattern. Again, I used view A, with the elastic under the bust as in view D, and finding the position of the elastic was a doddle with my method of turning it inside out and drawing on it. Perfect!
For the Black and White Gypsy Top, I used some fabric from B&M Fabrics on Leeds Kirkgate market. I think this is where much of my stash fabric has come from, but now I’ve signed up to their Facebook page I can also see when they get new fabric in. There is a great selection in the market and in their new shop on the outside of the market building. They are really friendly and very happy to help. I managed to avoid my problems last time hemming around a curve by using some biased binding along the bottom edge. It was much easier and gave a much better finish.
I tried to make this in one day, but I ran out of black lace and had to order more from Minerva Crafts. It arrived quickly though, so I was able to finish it within the week.
The Purple Gingham Gypsy Top was made to wear instead of my several RTW plaid shirts when playing with my band ‘The Skiffle Skunks’. It has a nice country feel and is comfortable to wear while playing and singing. I didn’t have any appropriate biased binding to use, so I did a scrappy hem on the bottom edge. It looks okay from the outside, but I know there is a mess inside. Next time I make this top, I might use it as a good reason to try making my own biased binding for the first time.
I think that there will be more of these TNT patterns in my future, especially for gigging in.
After my success with his Monkee’s shirt, my boyfriend asked if I could make him a stripy t-shirt. He’s quite particular about his stripes and hasn’t been able to find any t-shirts he likes for a while.
I wasn’t sure about making something as classic as a t-shirt, but thought I’d give it a go. I ordered some black and beige stripy knit fabric from Minerva Crafts and I was very pleased with the feel of it when it arrived. The pattern I picked for this was actually a pyjama top pattern which looked like it would be simple to make (Simplicity 2116).
The cutting out took quite a while as I tried to make sure that the stripes matched on the folded fabric. The stripe matching along the sides worked out well in the end – not perfect, but good enough.
The big problem I had was with the ribbed collar. I used my overlocker for all the seams including the collar, and as I was sewing it felt like it was going in beautifully. I’d never done this before, but I was following some advice I’d found online about stretching the ribbed fabric as I sewed it in, after lots of pinning to make sure it was evenly distributed around the neckline. As I looked at the completed neck band, which was lying beautifully flat with no puckers, I realised that I’d sewn it in inside out! Bugger! I managed to keep calm and after unpicking it, which took ages with the overlocking, I sewed it in again the other way around. Not quite as good as the first time, but good enough.
In the end, Jez was really pleased with it and has set me the task of finding some red and black fabric to make him a Dennis the Menace style t-shirt (or two).
Years ago I had a pink paisley gypsy top that I wore until it fell apart. I’ve always wanted another, but I haven’t been able to find one. Now I’m sewing again this seemed like a great idea for a project.
The Butterick B4684 pattern view A, with the elastic under the bust that is in view D, looked like a good place to start. The fabric that I decided to use for the wearable toile is a green paisley pattern from my stash.
I found it a nice relaxing project and loved adding the lace to the neck line using my overlocker. It made it really simple to get a neat finish on the inside. The only problems I had were trying to do a curved hem at the bottom edges and getting the placement of the under bust elastic right. I had to unpick the original channel that I’d sewn in. It took a long time to find the stitches to unpick among the overlock stitch I’d used on the edge of the fabric making up the channel, without damaging the top. I found that the best way to find the correct placement for the new channel, was to put the top on inside out and draw a line with tailor’s chalk where I wanted the elastic to fall. I added a slight upward curve in the centre front to ensure I didn’t have too much bagging in the centre. It worked a treat.
I was really pleased with the finished item and it was definitely wearable. I think I’m well on my way to another TNT pattern.
After watching Me-Made-May 2014 from the side-lines, I had very good intentions to participate in Me-Made-May 2015. Then, before I knew it, we were half way through May and I hadn’t even considered my pledge.
For anyone who hasn’t heard of Me-Made-May, the official description on its creator’s blog (So Zo What Do You Know?) is “Me-Made-May’15 (#mmmay15 for social media interaction) is a challenge designed to encourage people who sew/knit/crochet/refashion/upcycle garments for themselves to actually wear and love them.” The main types of pledges that people make include:
- Wearing at least one (or two) me-made garment each day for the month of May 2015 – some people include jewellery, bags and pyjamas in the count
- Wearing at least one handmade item five days a week during the month (or another number of days)
- Wearing whole me-made outfits (sometimes even including undies)
Although the challenge is not designed to be about blogging or making new items, some people see it as a good opportunity to pledge specific new makes, finishing off their procrastinated projects, photographing each days outfit, more regular blogging and sorting out their wardrobes. You can find some photos on the Official Flickr Group
Missing this year’s challenge was part of my motivation for re-igniting my blog. I have also decided to use it to document my preparation for MMM16 and a challenge of wearing 100% me-mades during May 2016 (excluding underwear). This will require at least two pairs of jeans, two pairs of trousers, one matching jacket, fourteen new tops, two pairs of pyjamas and a summer coat. Ideally, I’d also like to find some flattering, comfortable patterns for clothes I wouldn’t usually wear, such as a work dress, a work skirt and a casual dress.
Well that should keep me busy for the next year!
How do you decide what to make next? Do you plan ahead or pick and choose on whim?
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.
My 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.
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.
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?
Do 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!
One 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.
Here 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!
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.