Sunday, 29 May 2011

Tentatively Carrying On!

Carrying on today (Saturday) with making up the toile, the instructions firstly say to attach the pieces of the waistband together, matching up the notches. However, the notches don't match up!! I double check the pattern pieces and I have done it correctly. Odd! Have the notches been put in the wrong places? Seems an odd mistake to make! So, I match up the pieces in the way that seems logical and sew them together.

You then have to sew together the two front pieces. Since it's a toile, I have the stitch length set to the highest length. It's been a long time since I have sewed such a long length, so I take it slowly! I then stitched the two back pieces to the front ..... so far, so good :)

I then pressed open all the seams and attached the waistband to the skirt. This went very well, although there was a little 'ease' to make allowances for. I only slightly misaligned one of the seams.

Then for the dreaded invisible zip! I'll be honest that initially I wasn't entirely sure how to do it! I had previously looked at a number of different websites but in the end, I used Sunni's instructions. I took a lot of care over it, treating it as a learning experience before doing it 'for real'. It came out quite well. I make a slight mistake over the section of the seam that goes from the end of the zip down to the bottom of the skirt and so had to improvise with a bit of hand stitching but I think I'll be able to rectify that when I come to do the real thing.

And here is the finished toile! In actual fact, for an old duvet cover, it doesn't look all that bad :)

Firstly, from the front:
Then from the back ...... the invisible zip looks pretty good even if I do say so!!

And finally from the side.

Initially, I thought that possibly the skirt was sitting too high. However, on reflection, I think it is more that I've got used to buying skirts of a size that fit my hips but then have a loose waist that sits low down. Basically, I can't recall the last time I actually had an A line skirt that fitted well!
So, onwards to the real thing :)

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Gingerly Making a Start!

Right! Here we go! I am late in participating in the Ginger sewalong but better late than never :)

I am going to try and record every step of the process so I have something to look back on and hopefully can learn from any (the many?) mistakes I make.

The pattern pieces are all folded, so the first thing is to roughly cut them out and iron them flat. I set the iron on the lowest setting and ironed each piece on the wrong side (just in case the print came off!) and on an old tea towel. There are a few things I notice. Firstly, the cut lines for the different sizes are very close together and I'm wondering if this will be confusing when cutting out. Secondly, ironing the pieces creates some static which I hope won't be a problem! Finally, the printing is a bit faint in a few places.

Voila! All the pieces reasonably flat.

I want to trace the pieces and use the tracings for the actual sewing. I want to do this so I can keep the original for another time plus, I'm pretty sure that my waist and hips belong to different sizes. I say 'pretty sure' as....... I haven't actually measured myself for a long time! I buy ready to wear English size 14 but I have to say that I think the current size 14 is much bigger than the size 14 I recall in (say) the 70s.

So ..... now for the tough call! My measurements!! Why is it I can quite calmly say 'I'm a size 14' but I baulk at saying my measurements? Discuss!!  :)

Anyhow ..... I'm taking these measurements in the evening of Friday 27th May, after dinner, so hopefully anything I make will fit at any time! My hips are 43 inches and my waist is 31 inches. (Shock horror ..... better keep on with the diet!!). On the sizing chart, size 12 has waist 32 inches and size 14 has hips of 44 inches. So, merging sizes 12 and 14 will give me one inch extra on both the waist and the hips. Somewhere on Sunni's blog I seem to recall her saying that Collette patterns tend to be a close fit and I have to say that I don't like tight skirts, so perhaps having an extra inch will be a good thing? Indeed, looking again at the sizing chart, the finish size for the size 12 is 32.5 inches. This is 1.5 inches of ease for my waist. To be honest, I am so used to size 14 ready to wear being mega big on me that if I wore a skirt without a certain amount of ease, I think I will be uncomfortable. So ...... I'll try making a muslin merging sizes 12 and 14 and see how it comes up. For this pattern adjustment, Sunni says you must also measure your hip length ie the distance between your waist and your hips and for me, this is 9 inches.

However, before merging the patterns, I need to trace the patterns onto tracing paper....... At the same time, I followed Sunni's instructions for merging a waist from one size to the hips of another size. I also wanted my skirt to be longer than the pattern by more than 2 inches so I will be altering the pattern to insert 2 inches in the middle of the front and back pieces and also add length to the bottom. Although I had thought that the pattern lines were close together, when it came to the crunch, tracing the pattern pieces was easier than I thought it would be.

Inserting the additional 2 inches looks a bit odd on the pattern. I think I will have to extend the line down to the bottom to make the bottom section larger. You can see this in the photos below. I must admit that Sunni suggests re-drawing the line so it ends up at the original hem point but I can't see how this will make the side seam OK. For better or worse, I will extend the line down and see how it looks on the muslin.

Having altered the pattern, I then found an old duvet cover that was going to be my 'muslin' material and cut it so I could lay it out to pin the pattern pieces to. First mistake here! I forgot that the material had to be double. I had cut out one of the waistband pieces when I noticed, so it wasn't too difficult to correct! Mind you....... I then re-read Sunni's muslin making instructions and realised I only needed one of the waistband pieces in any case!! DOH!!

Cutting out can be a bit tricky as from time to time I wasn't entirely sure I was close enough to the pattern pieces and I was left wondering if the pieces will be accurate enough. However, having cut out the pieces, I decided to break at this point! By now, it was 11.30pm on Friday evening and I thought it best to leave the sewing to another day :)

This took me much longer than I anticipated. I guess I started at around 8.30pm, give or take. Mind you ..... I was also loading and unloading four lots of washing and hanging that up as well, so it wasn't a dedicated 3 hours of time.

On Saturday, I will put together the muslin, including sewing the invisible zipper ...... which I'm a bit nervous about!!

Saturday, 21 May 2011

More Gingeryness But Of A Sewing Kind!!

Floral Cotton Fabric for Ginger Sewalong

OK ..... it's black and white fabric, not Ginger at all :)

However, I've discovered a fantastic blog called A Fashionable Stitch, owned by someone called Sunni, and she is running a beginner's sewalong using a beginner pattern by Collette called Ginger.

I was first aware of this pattern a little while ago from the blog run by Gone To Earth that I follow but at the time, I wasn't sure about it. You see, I have wanted to get into making clothes for a very long time but it has always seemed so daunting!! I did make a skirt in the first (or was it the second?) year of secondary school which didn't turn out too badly but I haven't done any since ...... and that was a long time ago!!

However, as you can see from the starting post, Sunni is planning to hold our hands in a virtual sense and so far the posts have been fascinating, from the history of the A-line skirt, to choosing fabric and a whole host of other things.

Although I have ordered the pattern and some fabric from Gone To Earth, I only did this yesterday as I was dithering about whether to take the plunge or not!! So ..... having decided yesterday that I really should go for it ..... I'm committed now :)

Also, I knew I didn't have an invisible zipper foot so yesterday, after work, I whizzed down to Rona sewing machine shop at Waltham Cross to see if they had an invisible zipper foot. This shop is a lovely shop! It is where I took both my and my Mum's sewing machines for repair/service last year. It was no surprise to find that they came up trumps!!

On the left is the zipper foot that came with my machine and on the right is the invisible zipper foot. It has two little notches on the underside and I'm intrigued to know how it works!

Whilst in there, I also bought the black and white floral fabric, the invisible zip and the thread. OK ..... yes, I know ...... I ordered fabric from Gone To Earth ...... but I liked the look of this fabric and I fully intend to make more than one :)

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Ginger Cup Cakes

For the Flower Festival, I made Ginger, Lemon and Chocolate Cup Cakes and, as I said before, John was most disappointed that he didn't get to sample one of the Ginger ones!

So, last Saturday, since he had to help me go done to the Church to collect all our trees and shrubs AND wait whilst our other flower contributors dismantled their displays AND help clear up afterwards AND I was then due to desert him in the evening as I was going out with some of the ladies from Church .... I thought I'd better made him some Ginger Cup Cakes just for him :)

Here is one of them! John took the photo.

Despite having millions of cookery books, I found the recipe after a quick search on the Internet. I liked the look of this recipe as it was geared to the English way of cooking, having the ingredients as weights rather than cups (just what sort of 'cup' are you supposed to use, I never can tell?). I also liked the fact that all the ingredients can just be plonked [technical term :) ] in the food processor and it's done!

I wanted to make more than the recipe says, so I multiplied the cup cake recipe itself up by 4. However, multiplying the butter cream topping by 4 seemed like an awfully large amount of butter cream, so I only multiplied that up by 3 and it was plenty!

Also, I wanted to decorate the top of the cup cakes with crystallised ginger but couldn't find any in my local shop. So ..... what I did was to slice up a piece of stem ginger into small(ish) pieces and roll the pieces around in some caster sugar ...... and voila ...... a nice decoration for the cakes. John especially approved as he loves ginger!

I'm now hoping that John and James eat them quickly as they are sorely tempting me and I'm still on a quest to lose some weight  ......... :)

By the way ..... when did Cup Cakes stop being Fairy Cakes and become Cup Cakes :P

Friday, 13 May 2011

All Saints Church Edmonton Flower Festival 6-8 May 2011

Between Friday 6th May and Sunday 8th May there was a Flower Festival at my Church, All Saints Church in Edmonton, North London.

I volunteered to organise it, even though I had never been involved with a Flower Festival before and could only just about remember when the last one was held by my Church. I think this was about 15 or more years ago; I vaguely recall that my son James was about nursery age and he's coming up for 21 now! So a long time ago!!

I was possibly a little late in writing to other Churches and organisations in the area to see who would be interested in getting involved, but I was pleased by how many wanted to donate a flower arrangement. This was especially surprising given the current economic climate.

I had a day off work on Thursday 5th May as this was the main day that people could come into the Church to put their displays together. I also used the day to check up on the things needed for the refreshments we were going to serve on the Saturday and did some shopping down at Edmonton Green. However, the work I did that day pales into insignificance besides the work on arrangements carried out by Irene Money, the head of the flower arranging team at All Saints. She unfortunately had to re-do all the displays from Easter. She had hoped they would still be OK, but the flowers were beginning to die. She also did several other displays on behalf of other people; the Mothers' Union display, the display for Sheila Whetstone. the display for the Bennett family, as well as helping a couple of other people with their displays. Irene's displays are fantastic!

Did I do one? Well ..... No! Flower arranging is not my thing! Those with a good memory may recall that I was going to make lots of ribbon roses and make displays with those. However, apparently our Vicar is not very keen on artificial flowers and, in the end, I didn't feel that I wanted to spend lots of time doing something that wouldn't be acceptable. So ...... I wanted to do something, but what?

When watching the Royal Wedding and seeing how Kate and Wills brought trees into Westminster Abbey, it occurred to me that we have lots of small trees and shrubs in our garden that are in pots and that they might make good backdrops for other displays. On the May Bank Holiday Monday, John and I took lots of plants down to the Church. However, once again Irene come up trumps! She decided to use all these trees and shrubs to make a display with the theme of  'Tribute To The Royal Wedding'. Its all the greenery you can see in the photo below at the end of the table. The lace and satin are to suggest the wedding dress and the white daisy flower is the bouquet, not forgetting the inevitable flag!

Oh ..... and I did also spend all evening on the Friday making cup cakes! I haven't made cakes for a very long time but I was quite pleased by how they came out. I just forgot to take any photos of them. I made chocolate ones, lemon ones and ginger ones. John was very disappointed that he didn't get to sample any of the ginger ones as he loves anything made with ginger. So, I shall be making some more pretty soon for him ...... and I'll take photos when I do :)

The weekend finished with a Small Choirs Festival organised by our Choir Master, Mark Harris. This involved lots of small choirs coming together on Sunday afternoon to rehearse various pieces of choral music and then performing this music in the evening. The singing was fantastic! I do hope Mark organises another one. I wouldn't ordinarily say that choral music is quite my 'thing' and in the normal course of events, I may not go out of my way to attend an evening of choral music. However, I had volunteered to help with the refreshments for the choir and obviously stayed for the concert and I am so glad I did!!

Perhaps it was the setting in an atmospheric Church? Who knows! But it was a lovely concert and only goes to show that you never know what you might like!
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