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?


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?


Me-Made-May ’16 Review

My Me-Made-May ‘16 didn’t go very well at all – at least the pledge portion didn’t.  I wore an average of two items each week (rather than my pledge four), and these were my ginger jeans, my red spotty blouse, my mint green wallpaper blouse or PJs.  This did suggest that the items I’m making are not ones that get much chance to be worn.

When I wasn’t wearing me-made, I was wearing black trouser suits and tops (that are not blouses) for work, or leggings, t-shirts / vest tops and cardigans when not at work.  So I think I need to concentrate on these items instead.

I have plans to make PJs for Jez next, but after that I’ll be working through the following:

  • Summer jacket (to test a pattern for a suit jacket);
  • Ginger jeans and jackets from the same suiting material, to replace my black suits that are wearing out;
  • More Ginger jeans, including a black pair with red top-stitching;
  • Various t-shirts and vest tops (to show off my new tattoo!);
  • Comfy, stretchy tops for work; and
  • Casual cardigans.

This may make Me-Made-May ’17 (tongue twister!) more successful and see me getting everyday wear out of my me-made clothes.

What have you learned from Me-Made-May ’16?


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.


Me-Made-May ‘16

It has been a little while since I last posted, although I have been doing some sewing, I haven’t had too much time and energy due to the demands of my day job.  In the last few weeks I’ve been noticing mentions of Me-Made-May ’16 appearing on various blogs and, although I have several items to blog about I decided that this blog should be a look back at last year’s Me-Made-May blog post.

That post was made at the end of May and rued my lack of participation in 2015.  I had just got back to blogging, a year after my return to sewing in May 2014.  I didn’t have many items of clothing that I wore regularly at the time, and I planned to spend the next year creating an almost completely me-made wardrobe.  The best laid plans…

The items that I thought I needed to successfully complete this feat were:

  • two pairs of jeans (I made a white wearable toile of the Ginger Jeans pattern, followed by a denim version, both yet to be blogged – only the denim version is worn regularly),
  • two pairs of trousers (I have plans to try to make these using the Ginger Jeans pattern, but these have not been started yet),
  • one matching jacket (I have a pattern in mind for this, but I’m going to use it for the summer coat first and then decide if it’s appropriate),
  • fourteen new tops (I have made four gypsy style tops, one of which is more of a dress length, which are good for going out in, and I have another McCalls M6036 blouse in progress, which should be completed in the next couple of days and is suitable for work wear),
  • two pairs of pyjamas (I made two pairs of pyjama bottoms to replace some that had worn out and could be worn with the existing tops),
  • and a summer coat (I have all the fabric and notions required for this, and although it will be one of my next projects, but it will not be ready before the end of May.)

As you can tell, I am not in a position to make the pledge I was aiming for:

“…a challenge of wearing 100% me-mades during May 2016 (excluding underwear).”

Instead, my Me-Made-May ’16 pledge for this year, which should accommodate my lack of work and casual wear:

“I, Jan of Vivid Kitty’s Fascinating World of Sewing and Stuff, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’16. I endeavour to wear a me-made item 4 days a week for the duration of May 2016.”

I am also going to review what sewing would most help me to build a wearable wardrobe.  Maybe next year I can go 100% me-made…

…or maybe a year is much shorter than I think.


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?