Sewing Machine Maintenance

Well. That was an adventure.

I was messing with my machine, trying to work out why the  bottom tension was a bit off, and I noticed the feed dog drop switch wasn’t making the feed dog come back up again… that’s no good. I need the feed dog up.

So I went on YouTube, found some very very very helpful videos, and stripped my machine back to bare bones. Only to find on closer inspection that there was literally no problem, it’s just that the offset cam was in the down position while I was flipping the switch. If I turned it to the up position, the feed dog came up as expected. Well, that was a half day wasted.

I learned a lot about my machine though. Sigh.

Too Short Trousers Into Breeches

Ok, so this week, a charity shop coughed up four pairs of rather nice corduroy trousers in different, perfectly acceptable colours. They fit very nicely except for the length, which rendered them totally fashionably unacceptable.

Good thing I’d been looking for a pair of trousers to make into breeches! And the universe gave me four!

Cut them just below the knee.

Take a little out of the inside leg so they fit snugly.

Rip a tiny bit of the outside seam so that you can sandwich it in the cuff.

Cut the hem off the remainder of the leg and cut it up the inside seam, removing the entire old seam to leave two raw edges. Pin this lot to the bottom of the leg with all the excess on the front so it will form a button overlap. Sew it up, leaving a little room at either end for the cuff sandwiching.

Turn up the cuffs right sides together and sew up the open edges.

Invert and pin inside for slip stitching. Yes, slip stitching. I know it takes hours, put the TV on.

There’s lots of good stuff on BBC.

You’ll finish eventually and it will look amazing.

Whack some buttonholes and buttons on there (hello, BBC!) and bob’s your uncle.

Hell, yes. I feel historical-badass.

 

Tudor Headpiece

Just feeling pleased with myself over this headpiece. The crescent things were originally supposed to be shoulders for the dress, but as is always the way with me following my nose creatively, I ended up with a different plan and these left over. So I repurposed them.

Ready for hire today at https://www.royalexchange.co.uk/costume-hire!

Cake Cake Cake Cake Cake

Congratulations to Nicola and Rob on their wedding, and thanks for commissioning a cake!

Here are a few shots, including rare documentation of the awkward, not very sophisticated stages.

Sarah May ably assisted me in rolling all the little elongated teardrop shapes to be made into curls.

And then was kind enough to amuse herself by limewashing the gable end of my house while I spent hours painting the cake.

The finished article was worth al the effort and Nicola loved it, which is all I care about, really. Many happy years and success in everything they do!

Swimwear

Ok, so this is not really new news, but I dug out one of my custom made super-supportive, shapewear swimming costumes the weekend while the heatwave gave me the very un-british opportunity to go wild swimming.

This baby is so far above any expectations the world had led me to believe I should have.

Let me explain. I am not a small person. And, though I fight them tooth and claw, I have all the insecurities of a middle aged woman of girth when it comes to swimwear. Particularly, the fact that I’m a 34F and they’re not, erm… naturally perky… meant that all swimwear made me look like a loaf. Screw that.

So I took an old bra, some lycra fabric and elastic and went to work. The result is a tankini (it’s two piece because seriously, whoever invented the one piece never needed a wee while wearing one) that fits me as I want it to, fully covers my not-small bum, fully supports my not-small boobs and is comfy and flattering on the rest of not-small me. This one is more of a comfort model, but I’ve also made hefty shapewear versions, for when I want to pretend I’m just that toned. Ha.

I’ve recently made a bikini for a friend using the same model and it went super well, so I’m going to be offering a design and make your own swimwear course in the future. Probably not til next year at this rate, but if you’re interested, by all means get in touch!

Steven’s Suit

It kind of all started a few years ago, when I was making Catie’s wedding dress with her and Daisy was making the groom’s tweed suit. I was impressed. I mean, a tweed suit… you know you’ve arrived when you can make a tweed suit, right?

I expected it to be, you know, fine, but to look home-made, if you know what I mean. In reality it was magnificent. She said that tweed, far from being difficult and requiring years of secret knowledge acquisition, was actually really biddable and forgiving to work with.

So I threw down all my other projects and immediately went shopping for tweed. And then got distracted by other things, and years passed, and anyway, long story short, not long ago, Steven asked me about making him a tweed suit and I signed up on the spot. Nothing like a client and a deadline to sharpen the attention span.

So we went shopping, at a fantastical place, fantastically named The Fancy Silk Store (Birmingham) Ltd. and bought our tweed, a lovely, thick, brown wool tweed with rust accents. We considered silk for the lining, but I advised against it because Steven is going to actually wear this suit a lot and silk tends to perish quite quickly. We chose a deep-dark-purple-brown polyester lining that suited the fabric beautifully and will last.

I then had a bout of anxiety and imposter syndrome so bad I found ALL the excuses not to start. That lasted a few months.

But in the end I got over it and just got to work. Of course, it wasn’t nearly as bad as I was making it in my head. Things pretty much went fine, and tweed *did* turn out to be quite nice to work with.

Horse hair interfacing not so much. I think I will do some more research there.

At least half of the project, time-wise, was fiddly hand finishing. I don’t mind that so much, because while it’s tedious and time consuming, you can at least watch old episodes of Buffy while you’re doing it.

And the whole thing came together beautifully in the end. I was almost absurdly proud of it.

Even the fact that the last part, the waistcoat, had a whole string of sort-of-disasters that required whole parts to be taken apart and re-cut, and one welt pocket that got sewn together three times before I got it right.

Thursday arrived and so did Steven. I’d finished everything I could do without a final fitting, and he patiently waited for me to hem the trousers and finalise a few other things. And then, the moment of truth. See for yourself.

 

 

 

 

 

Steven was gratifyingly pleased, which is always nice. He says he will be wanting a lighter, summer suit as well. Hooray!

With that under my belt, I’ve decided to run a course to teach *you* how to do what I did. Join me the first week in September at I Make Everything HQ for the first ever Tweed Suit In A Week course.

Breakfast Foods

We had a festival of breakfast (called BreakFest) at our house this weekend. See my other blog for the full story: http://donatedhouse.org.uk/?p=3400 but meanwhile, here are some highlights. Come on a course! We eat very well here…

Blueberry muffins and pecan coffee cake…

Homefries with carrots and greens…

Brioche French toast with berries and whipped cream…

 

Full English breakfast with local meats and halloumi for the vegetarians…

And home-smoked salmon with buck’s fizz on the deck.

Food, glorious food. No need to eat for the next few days now.

Tudor Splendour Taking Shape

I love my Tuesdays. All day playing with lovely fabrics making whatever I want to make for the department. Shame about the commute, but it’s worth it.

Today I took some super-fancy fabric of the sort we just have lying around and made some sleeves and some ornamental stuffed sleeve caps.

I had LOADS of fun (towards the beginning and sore fingers towards the end) making the criss-crossed wrapping and pearl decoration. None of it is ready to be put together yet, but here’s an idea of what goes where:

More on this subject every tuesday I hope…

Other Things I Am Making

While I’m not finding a lot of time to make sewing-crafty stuff, it’s because I’m building a shower. Here’s the frame for the curved bench seat, because I think it’s a basic human right to be able to sit down in the shower. It’s better than falling over while washing your toes.

Meanwhile…

Slow going with the craft these days, partly due to paid work (in not crafts) and partly due to building a bathroom so that I can have a bathroom for the first time in 6 years, and so that I can get the hell on with having residential courses here.

But also, I’m about to line up a bunch of one-day courses, so watch this space and feel free to request one if you fancy a particular craft.

Also… nom nom nom, this is my favourite new omega 3 recipe: grilled mackerel with seedy salad. The sort of thing I will be serving on my residential courses.