Category Archives: Sewing

Hello 2014

Happy New Year! I hope you have all had a good time with friends and family over the festive period.

Do you have any plans or resolutions for 2014?

Rather than a resolution, this year I’ve decided to do monthly themes. I’m hoping that having something different to focus on each month means I won’t get bored or frustrated and I’ll be more productive with my time.

January is going to be all about organising, sorting and cataloguing my stash, projects and what I’m planning to make. I’m starting by taking a photo of all my works in progress so I can make project pages on Ravelry for them. I think I’m going to cringe at how many there are once I’m done, I suspect its probably way more than I thought it was…

This will then set me up to tackle February’s theme which is going to be to finish as many WIPs as I can. I’m still deciding on the monthly themes for the rest of the year, let me know if you have any good ideas!

I’m also planning on getting back into running again. I started last year with the Couch to 5k programme (NHS version) which went great and I was regularly doing 5k Park Runs by the summer. I also cycled to work (a round trip of 14 miles!) until an irresponsible dog walker caused me to come off my bike and break my big toe which scuppered my running until recently. This year I’m going to aim for a 10k run.

Christmas Sewing Update The Second

Last week’s Christmas sewing session was very productive, but not completed, hence the lack of photos. Over the course of the week I’ve slowly been finishing what I started and I’m now finally ready to share.

DSC_2856

The trees are either going to be hung as a garland or as individual decorations, I’m not quite sure yet. But as a novice sewist I’m quite impressed with what I’ve done and how neat it all looks. My seams are usually fairly straight but I often struggle with tension. I didn’t really have that problem this time, maybe I’m *gasp* improving?!

DSC_2854

I was a little wary of sewing the heart, I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to make the blanket stitches neat enough for my perfectionist ways but I think I did alright! And it was very relaxing, carefully stitching it together whilst listening to a podcast (I’m slooowly catching up on the lovely A Playful Day). I’m thinking I might have to make another one.

This weekend I’m taking on the challenge of patchwork and making a gorgeous Christmas cushion cover for my sofa. I’ve picked a very straightforward pattern so I’m hoping the hardest bit will be picking out the squares of fabric.

But if you think I’ve abandoned knitting, think again. Check back here later as I have a very cute little character that I’d like to you to meet.

And a pattern.

And mini pom-poms.

Help Me with My Christmas Sewing?

Last year I bought some Christmas fabrics with the intention of making some decorations and/or cards from them. Well, you know what they say about good intentions. I only managed to get part of a heart decoration done as I struggled to get the zigzag stitching neat enough for my perfectionist ways and eventually abandoned it to go back to my knitting.

This year though, I am determined to finish that heart and do something with my other pieces of fabric. So I’m dusting off the machine and having a day of stitching on Saturday.

Can anyone recommend me some ideas and/or tutorials on Christmas sewing? I’d love to have a go at some patchwork with the little squares but I don’t know of any easy projects other than a mini quilt? I’d also love to see any pictures of decorations you’ve made yourselves!

As a thank you and to celebrate the start of the festive season and my day of Christmas sewing I’m also planning on running a special promotion on my patterns on Saturday. This will be exclusive to readers of my blog and my twitter followers so make sure you check back here Saturday!

Christmas stuff

A Beautiful Machine

On Wednesday I spotted a beautiful vintage sewing machine on ebay. The colour was what first caught my attention, its truely gorgeous. Luckily, I won the auction and this arrived yesterday:

Teal blue metallic shininess

It’s a Cooper Sewing Machine and unfortunately I haven’t managed to find out anything about them the internet. I’ve found a company called Cooper Sewing Machines that was established in 1903 and I’m assuming they made it, but it doesn’t seem like they produce their own machines any more. Their website has barely anything about the history of the company so I might shoot an email off to them to see if they can shed any light. It seems to me that it might be 1950s or 1960s?

The seller was fantastic, it couldn’t have arrived quicker and was so carefully and expertly packed. It is in impeccable condition with very minimal wear and tear and have I mentioned the lovely colour already? Plus, it’s been serviced and is completely ready to go!

Shiny

Look how shiny everything is! It has a stitch regulator with dial system, reverse-sewing, drop-feed for embroidery and darning and a self-adjusting bobbin winder.

Bobbin

The underside of the machine is just as shiny. This is a very well looked after machine.

Tin of accessories and it's slot

The tin of accessories sits in the slide slot.

Accessories

Inside the tin I got several threads (which I wasn’t expecting!) and a few feet and bobbins. Took me a while to identify the adjustable seam guide as I hadn’t seen one of them before but the rest of them are in the handbook. I’m going enjoy using this machine so much! :)

Vintage Sewing Machine

Last weekend I popped into an antique and bric-a-brac shop and discovered this vintage sewing machine. I couldn’t resist buying it!

Front

I don’t know much about vintage sewing machines, I hadn’t heard of Frister and Rossmann but I liked the decals, it had bobbins and a case, the price seemed reasonable to me and that’s all that really mattered.

So I’ve been doing some research on Frister and Rossmann. O. Quitmann was the sole importer from the 1920’s, after 1937 the badge changed to being marked ‘Little Britain’ so I may be wrong but I’m reasonably confident was manufactured in 1937 as it’s a model D not E. The serial number is 25867. There are a couple of good pages here and here that go into a bit of detail about the company if anyone is interested. Also, if anyone knows any more than me and can correct or confirm the date I’d love to hear from you.

Badge

Inside the the case were a couple of surprises, the first was evidence of a little visitor:
Little visitor

I’m thinking I won’t clean these off! It adds character don’t you think?

There were also the remains of the handbook, it’s only 6 and a bit pages that are very delicate but it was a nice surprise to find these inside the case when I got home.
Remains of the handbook

There were quite a few accessories in the compartment too, I’m not sure what half of them do but I’ll do some research once I’ve cleaned them up.
Accessories

It’ll probably take a few weeks but I’ll post some more pictures once I’ve given it some TLC.

The only problem is that I’ve now been browsing the collectible sewing and textile section on ebay and lusting after other vintage machines and paraphernalia. I’ve inherited some of my grandparents sewing threads and other bits and bobs and I’m now thinking about how I could decorate my future hypothetical sewing room (or corner, I’d settle for a corner) with vintage sewing collectables. I’ve now got a 1930s Singer sewing machine oil can coming in the post next week…

A Bundle of Pretty

I picked up a little bundle of pretty fat quarters the other day at Jarrolds.

Fat Quarters

They had 10% off so they’re a little bargain too. :)

I’m planning on making small bags, probably sock project bags. I’m not sure what pattern yet, but I’m having fun browsing blogs for tutorials. I like the pink and brown spotty fabric best so I’m going to use the other fabrics as trial runs to practice the techniques and try out designs first.

The green fabric on the far right is the odd one out as it’s a whole meter which I bought just because I liked the print (and it was also reduced!) Not sure what I’ll make from that yet, maybe another bag?

In addition to these goodies, I also got a free bunting kit consisting of template, instructions, cotton tape and tailors chalk. I’d show you a picture but I gave it to my mum as she’s been talking of making/buying some bunting for the summer house in the garden.

I also picked up some fat quarters at Sew Creative this weekend.

Stripes!

Lovely colours and bold stripes that I think will also make some great bags.

Yes, I do seem to have a one track mind at the moment. Everything I see I think will make good bags! I’ve decided I’m not going to buy any more fat quarters (no matter how pretty they are) until this lot is used up and maybe with the next fabric I buy I’ll be inspired to make something other than bags… :)

Ta-dah!

My weekend bag is finally finished! It took a few more days than I was expecting but I got there in the end.

Bag

It’s the first project I’ve made using my sewing machine and while it’s not perfect it’s really not that bad either. There are only a few wonky seams and I’ll probably sew the handles on again neater at some point but the main point of this project was to learn and that was a complete success.

I’ve practiced doing bias binding, interfacing, seams and getting the tension right amongst other things. Plus, I can now change threads and wind bobbins without looking up the instructions. Oh, and I’ve learnt it’s a good idea to check the pockets before you sew things together, before you do something silly like sew the liner in upside down…

I’m planning to use the bag for my knitting, I can use it as a stash basket or alternatively it will easily hold everything I need for a WIP (or two!). There’s 8 balls of yarn underneath the WIP in the picture below and still room to spare!

Inside the bag

I put pockets on the inside and outside as the bag is reversible although I’m probably going to keep it patterned side out. There’s also an additional mini pocket on one side.

Handy pockets with pretty needles

The worst of the wonky stitches was on the handles as I struggled to keep it straight whilst sewing with the bulk of the bag. I’m quite pleased with the handles themselves though.

Wonky stitches

I’ve got so much more to learn but I think that’s a pretty good start! :)

Bag

Now I need to decide what to make next…

Not Sew Good

It’s not easy learning to sew. My first seam looked like this:

Wonky Stitches

That got unpicked swiftly! Thankfully it didn’t take me long to figure out how to do neat, straight(ish) seams.

Other things I’ve learnt:

1. Checking your tension is as important in sewing as it is in knitting.

2. Pretty stitches are pretty cool.

Pretty Stitches

But they take 10 times as long to unpick!

3. The Sewing World pattern is not a good one. Not because it’s difficult because it is full of errors. A 30cm circle does not have a circumference of 107cm (30cm x Pi =95cm, and you can’t tell me the 12cm difference is the seam allowance), and if you cut a rectangle to be the same length as the circumference you will not have enough fabric because you need a seam allowance. I could be missing something as I’m a beginner but I doubt it.

I won’t mention all the other wrong numbers.

I wish I had pictures of a bag to show you but I’ve had to unpick several times and haven’t quite achieved it. I hope to have something better to show you tomorrow.

Frugal(ish) Shopping Trip

I only intended to buy a magazine and some stiffener today. I didn’t go overboard but a closing down sale and a bargain bin meant I got a little bit more and best of all it came to just under £15. :)

Frugal(ish) Shopping Trip

I have lots of interesting projects planned with these. From the left:

  • Stiffener for a bag I’m going to try to make at the weekend.

  • Sunflower yellow dye for some sock yarn. (I wanted white yarn but what I unknowingly ordered was un-dyed off-white, rather than return it I decided it would be sacrificed to my first attempts at dying).

  • Ribbon for finishing off my Ambrosia cardigan.

  • Sparkly black thread! I probably would have bought it anyway as I love anything black and sparkly but I do actually have a project planned based on some artwork I saw at The Forum last week. I’ll tell you about it when it becomes less awesome idea and more awesome reality.

  • Teeeeeny tiny hook for placing beads in knitting.

  • Homestyle sewing magazine, lots of interesting projects inside and came with the materials to make a red spotty bag. I don’t think I’ll be doing the one printed inside, but I like the generous 50x100cm of material to play with.
  • That lot should keep me busy for a little while… :)