Thursday, 25 December 2014

The Curvy Sewing Collective Holiday Swap!

Hi Everyone and a very Merry Christmas to you all! Or if you don't celebrate Christmas then I hope you have the opportunity to take a nice break with family and friends.

Today I want to write about the kindness of strangers, and some curvy sewing of course.
I recently took part in the Curvy Sewing Collective Holiday Swap. This was where you gave your details on the Curvy Sewing Collective website and were partnered with another member of the online sewing community. The idea was to send a pattern, and perhaps a few notions, to your swap partner. I thought that this was a lovely idea so signed myself up.

I was partnered with Friedericke, who has a terrific blog at Naehenisttherapie (Sewing is Therapy). If you haven't read her blog before you should really give it a read. I was blown away by her chic, modern style and her sewing skills. I mean look at this amazing coat.


And this fabulous Washi dress looks effortlessly stylish.

Chic, modern and stylish are three words that would never ever come up if you were asked to describe me so I was really intrigued to what pattern Friedericke would choose as our styles couldn't have been more opposite if we tried. 

Anyway, a couple of days ago I received my parcel and I couldn't have been more delighted with my present. I was really touched by the thoughtful pattern choice as when we had written to each other about what we liked or disliked I had mentioned that I was frightened of sewing knits. I received a Mabel sewing pattern from Colette Patterns with some stretch needles and a twin needle! How great is that! I have been looking for a twin needle for ages and thought that I might have to order one online.

Look at this bad girl! That skirt is smokin' hot (as they say. Definitely not down with the kids here). The Mabel is a skirt pattern designed for stretch fabrics and comes in sizes from XS to 3XL. 

It also comes in three styles. One of them a bit longer than the other two. I have to say that this is completely out of my comfort zone but in a very good way, I think that that is great and one of the things that makes these swaps so much fun. We can get stuck in a style rut and the Mabel has such great instructions and reviews that I am sure I will be whipping one up in no time. I have even bought fabric, a heavy grey ponte knit with textured black flowers on it. I can't wait to give it a go.

So yet again I have been touched by the kindness of strangers, thanks Friedericke, and just how much the online sewing community is just that, a community. Thanks go to Tanya too for organizing the swap. 
Friedericke, if you are reading this I really hope you liked your parcel!

Finally, if you haven't yet visited the CSC you really should give it a look. It is a great resource for anyone that sews but has a definite focus on us more *ahem* generously proportioned sewers.

So just closing off with some festive best wishes for you all and a classic (non-festive) tune!

K xx

Edited to say that my brother's rugby game got put off due to the weather so they are not going out until January now. Typical after all that rushing!

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Book Review: The Overlocker Technique Manual

Do you sew with knit fabrics? I never do as I am a bit scared of working with them. I have had an overlocker (serger) for about the past 10 years which I used to use for finishing the insides of Sprogzilla's dresses when she was small. I stopped using it, forgot everything and now I have lost my confidence. So, after a few abortive attempts to get my machine threaded up, with much added swears,  I decided to cut my losses and give it up for a dead loss. However, part of me REALLY wants to sew with knits again. I used to run up leggings and sew skirts from stretch fabrics with ease and have a lot of great knit fabrics kicking about growing old.

So I do what I always do when I need to learn something? Buy a book! I had a good look on Amazon and this one seemed to get the best reviews. The book in question is " The Overlocker Technique Manual" by Julia Hincks, published this year and in paperback. The cover price was £12.99 but it was on offer for less than £10. The  contents are divided into three main sections: Chapter 1 - Overlocker Basics; Chapter 2 - Techniques and Chapter 3 - Quick Constructions.

One of the things that I love about this book is that it is chock full of photos (good for a visual learner like me ) that is balanced out with the informative text. This makes it so easy to see where your stitches are going wrong and how they should look, Plus, it gives you the confidence to fiddle with all the little dials and knobs as now you know what they do. Guess who forgot to take any book photos? Yep, so you will have to take my word for it.

It looks awful but I was delighted that it was actually stitching

However glossy a sewing book it still needs to live up to its hype so I dusted down the machine and fired it up. Threading took me about 20 minutes and I could see from the start that the tension was a bit wonky and that the stitch width was probably off (thanks to the book).

Different fabric but looks SO much better (I used 3 different coloured threads)

After 5 minutes of fiddling I had another go and now it was stitching perfectly. (it looks like the fabric is rolled but it is just the stripes, it was dead flat). I only had three threads on my 4-thread machine as I couldn't find the box with all the spare feet, needles and stuff but will be converting this back to a 4-thread as soon as possible and changing the needles to ballpoints or stretches so I can sew knits. I have the Cake Patterns "Tiramisu" and the Holy Grail of knit dress patterns, the Palmer/Pletsch  "Perfect Knit Dress" from McCalls (M5974) waiting to be made up. I have pre-washed fabric and everything.

So am I glad that I bought this book? A big, fat resounding yes! I have conquered my fear, actually threaded my machine properly, can pinpoint where I was and am going wrong, and am now looking forward to the holidays so that I can get some knit sewing done. The only thing that would have improved this book for me was a spiral-binding so that I could have it open flat next to my machine when I was working through. 

I would heartily recommend this book to anyone with an overlocker, especially if you are thinking about buying one and would like a book to hold your hand through the learning process. I know that I am going to refer to it a lot.

Anyway, that was the sum of my productive output yesterday and I couldn't be more chuffed. I am off on my travels again tomorrow and have a couple of hours spare so will try to find fabric shops new.

Have a great week!