Screen Printing with the WI

In January I joined the newly formed Tooting Women’s Institute (WI). Annoyingly I have been so busy with school that I haven’t been able to go to the meetings, until yesterday. 

This week we were learning how to screen print, with our fabulous new logo. I had screen printed before, but it was during my GCSEs (way back in 1996). 

We had two different screens ready, one for a tea towel and one for a tote bag. The new logo looks like a local street sign and was designed to be printed in more than one colour, so part of it was taped over to prevent the dye from going through. 

After the first print we had the black part of the logo, then we had to use hair dryers to get it to dry quickly. 

Then (after a bit of a queue) we got to print on the next part in green.

It was a really fun evening, and it would be possible to screen print at home (although it would have to be a simpler design). 

You can see that my tote bag got a little messed up, the newspaper I had inside the bag was in the wrong place and got in the way of the squeegee. But I think it gives it character! So next month we are wine tasting, and I’m going to make sure I make it to that one!

Ultimate Wrap Dress Attempt 2

After making my first Ultimate Wrap Dress, I knew I had to tweak the pattern quite a bit to make it fit me properly. 

I needed to drop the waist down by 1 1/2 inches and lengthen the dress by at least 4 inches. I also wanted to add darts in the back neckline to bring the shoulders in, as this would in turn bring up the front of the dress. 

I picked up some lovely navy scuba (at only £6 a metre) from my local haberdashery and set to work. After I had finished the dress, I realized that I also needed to add darts to the front slope. Unfortunately I had already finished adding the facing down the front using a very close zigzag stitch (which is a nightmare to unpick). So after some creative bodging, I added darts to the front and managed to get them to lie reasonably flat (and added them to my paper pattern, so they are ready for next time). 

I asked my teenager to take some pictures of me wearing the finished dress, it was raining outside, so we had to use our not very exciting hallway as a back drop!

I’m really pleased with the finished length, and the waist seems to be perfectly placed  

The front isn’t too deep, so I can wear it to work and most importantly it doesn’t gap open from the side!

I’m so impressed with this wrap dress, now that I have finished tweaking the pattern, that I went out to Sew Over It in Clapham to pick up some fancier jersey (my local haberdashery doesn’t tend to have much in stock). 

So here is the fabric to make my next version, up close it has a really nice texture and it drapes really well. 

Ultimate Wrap Dress

After setting up my new machine, I finally got to sew together the pieces for my Ultimate Wrap Dress from Sew Over It

It was very easy to put together, and being able to just press ‘start’ on a sewing machine and let it sew with a little steering from me was a pleasant surprise. 

The finished dress was much shorter than I anticipated, so it’s ended up being a tunic dress (to be worn with leggings). I was quite surprised by this, as I’m only 5’10”.

Plus the tie strap hole is a little to high and doesn’t sit on my waist. But I absolutely love how this fabric looks. I may have to buy some more, especially as it comes in different colours!

So I am going to buy some more jersey and try again. Next time I will:

  1. Adjust the front slope so it ends on my waist, then the straps will be at the right point.  
  2. Add a couple of darts in the back, so the front comes up a bit higher. This will also pull the shoulders seams up slightly, so it will sit better. 
  3. Add about 4″ to the bottom, so it hopefully hits my knee. 

New Sewing Machine

Last weekend I intended to make my Ultimate Wrap Dress from Sew Over It, using the fabric I bought from Girl Charlee at the Knitting & Stitching show. But my beloved 1940s zigzag machine stopped working. 

The needle wouldn’t move when the foot pedal was pressed. I tried everything, checking the wheel at the end was tight, looking inside at all the parts. But I couldn’t get it to work. I had been contemplating buying a more modern machine for a while, and this seemed like a sign that now was the time. 

I happened to be going to Oxford Street on the Sunday, so I popped into John Lewis to see what sewing machines they had. 

I quite liked the Brother JK4000, but I wasn’t sure how heavy it was going to be (ironic when you consider I’ve been using vintage cast iron machines for the last few years). 

There was also the Janome 5030, but as there wasn’t anyone around who could demo the machines to me I didn’t feel that I could make a objective decision. 

Then I remembered the machines I had used in the Sew Over It course I went on last year. After checking which ones they were, I did a bit of online price comparison and purchased one. 

So here is my lovely new Janome CXL301. I’m still setting it up, but I’m hoping to sew together the dress pieces have had ready for a machine that actually works. 

The Knitting & Stitching Show

Today I went to Olympia (via non working trains, torrential rain and wind that wouldn’t let my umbrella stay the right way round) to visit the Knitting & Stitching Show. The last time I went I felt very overwhelmed by the variety of stalls on offer, so this time I went with a plan and a better budget!

I wanted to visit Sew Over It to see if I could get their new skirt pattern, or pick up the wrap dress pattern. I also wanted to try and get some fabric to go with the pattern I picked up. Lastly I wanted to try and pick up some yarn for a secret project.  

As I predicted there were so many stalls with all kinds of things. 

There was the most amazing ribbon stall called Crafty Ribbons. I picked up some 1m ribbon, I planning on turning them into lanyards (once I get some bag clasps). 

I managed to pick up the yarn for my secret project from Debonnaire (no picture of specific yarn, just in case a certain person is reading this!)  

I found Sew Over It and bought the pattern for the wrap dress and so popped to the Girl Charlee stall (they are lovely by the way) to get some jersey for the dress.  

Finally while browsing the numerous knitting stalls, I found a stall that specialized in Knit Pro needles. I bought my set of interchangeable Nova needles many years ago. The bag they came in has split, and much though I love them they are very ‘boring’  (I feel very middle class saying this!). I spotted the new(ish) Zing interchangeable and fell in love. Fortunately I had enough left in my budget so I bought myself a new set of needle tips.

It was a fantastic day and I now have several projects to keep myself busy with. If you get the chance to go the Knitting & Stitching Show then I would recommend going in the morning. It seems to get busier around lunchtime, by which time I was done and ready to go home.

Yarnporium

Today my daughter and I trekked off to Kings College London to visit Yarnporium. We had been looking forward to this ever since my sister mentioned she would be volunteering at it. 

Here she is in her fantastic volunteers shirt having just finished an 8 hour shift!

We went round all the stalls and there was so much lovely yarn to touch/fondle and quite a lot of it made it into my bag to come home (after being paid for, obviously!). 

One of my favourite indie dyers, Easy Knits, was there with their beautiful vibrant yarn. 

There was a stall selling Blue Heron yarn which has to be the most luxurious, sparkly yarn I have ever seen! It was £48 a skein, which was a little to expensive for an impulse purchase. I will have to do some careful project planning and saving before purchasing some.

I don’t think this photo does it justice, but looks how much it twinkles!

There were stalls selling other things as well, including buttons. I picked up 2 sets to go on shirts.

There were also plenty of notions. I found these really cute darning needle and stitch marker sets. 

All in all it was a fantastic afternoon out, now I have yarn to make hats and gloves – which is perfect as the weather has definitely started to get a lot colder. When the lighting is better (it’s dark out at the moment) then I will take some pictures of my purchases. But for now I’m off to go and wind some yarn into a ball to start making a hat!

Patterned Skirt

I’m in the process of updating my work wardrobe ready for the start of term. I’ve been buying a few pieces, but also making some myself. I’ve almost finished the ‘Anderson Blouse’, I just need to redo the bottom hem as I’m not happy with the way it turned out. 

I’ve had a pattern from Burda for a panelled stretchy skirt for a while, so I thought it about time to start making it. 

I had this textured black jersey in my stash. I thought it would work well with the panels. 

Annoyingly Burda patterns that you print yourself require all the seam and hem allowances to be added. Fortunately I had a little sewing guage that makes this so much easier.

I also had to get out my other sewing machine (which I got at a car boot sale for £6). It does a lovely zigzag stitch, but it is a little fiddly to set up. These are the controls for setting the zigzag.

It was really easy to refurbish and now works like a dream. I keep thinking I should get a more modern machine, so I have a choice of straight or zigzag (without having to change machines!). 

After cutting out all the pieces for the skirt, I did a test sew to check the zigzag worked ok on the fabric. Fortunately I had lots of spare fabric. 

It worked perfectly, so now I need to start sewing together the numerous panels.