Thursday, 24 September 2015

Off topic: free screensavers

Hi guys! It's totally off the usual sewing topic, but I thought I'd share a couple of screensavers I've made in the last couple of months for work (well, for my computer at work - I wasn't commissioned to do them or anything!) Offices can be boring and I figured a screensaver is as good a place as any for some mild light relief.

The 'messages' maybe reflect the fact that I'm a personal assistant in a team full of people who like to get in a tizz about 'urgent' things, I don't know - can you can tell that I'm the one who likes to stay calm by relativising? I mean, it's not like any of us are going to die over it or anything. Anyway, they're free to use should you wish to!

:: I'M NOT HERE ::
download here

:: DON'T PANIC! ::
download here

And I'm assuming you know or can work out how to change your computer's screensaver all by yourself :-)


Sunday, 20 September 2015

Tiny pocket Hemlock

Hello!  How are you today?  I'm feeling a little underwhelmed - Sunday evenings tend to have that effect, don't they?  Plus I'm about to show you a fairly unexciting t-shirt. But then life isn't always exciting is it, so, well - suck it up haha! :-)  Yeah, I'm keeping it real with the sewing blogging here. It just felt like time for a chat, so here I am.

So I made a knit hemlock. I can't really remember why to be honest, apart from a kind of sewist's curiosity - just to check out what all the fuss is about.  It is indeed a very easy sew, and clearly an excellent base for all sorts of variations - but then you knew that already. I used a remnant of brown/cream striped jersey and slapped a tiny gold pocket on it (no explanation needed, surely. It's a tiny gold pocket).  On me it's considerably less oversized than it is on Jen, ahem. (Shits given: zero)

I finished the neckline, sleeves and hem by turning under 1cm and coverstitching. People with coverstitch machines - do you have trouble tying the ends off? I thought I'd pulled the thread through and tied them up really carefully, but still the sleeve hems have unravelled after a couple of washes (see below). Any tips for me? Plus they flip to the inside which is really annoying, I guess it's because it's a pretty narrow hem. Next time I'll finish the sleeves with little bands/cuffs anyway as I'd like them to be a teensy bit longer.

I did have grand plans for a bunch of other quick, fun hemlock tees - I even started sewing one with some rather nice flutter sleeves cut on (get me, fancying things up). But its been distinctly autumnal in temperature round here recently, and once I realised I'd given up hope of an indian summer, I couldn't bring myself to carry on. This bothers me tremendously - I absolutely hate UFOs, I have to finish things or chuck them out, but I just can't bring myself to do either with this one. Really, I think a tee like this is generally an instant gratification kind of project, isn't it? Which doesn't work so well when there's going to be a six to nine month delay before you actually get to wear the outcome.

Ugh. Autumn. Sunday evening.

Actually I can't wait for Monday morning tomorrow - we've had some seriously irritating bad behaviour from the kids this weekend (well one of them, but I won't identify which, to save potential embarrassment when he's older. Oh wait, oops...)  There are many things to like about the office (adult company, intellectual stimulation, relative quiet, coffee) but what I'm most looking forward to this week is the chance to speak again without whatever I say causing someone to throw furniture around while manically cackling with laughter and attacking me with plastic ninja turtles. (And in the unlikely even that that did happen, we'd just have the person concerned carted off by security or the doctor and it would totally not be my problem. It's all about context...)

ANYWAY. Now for some random other things, which might be marginally more exciting than the hemlock, for those of you who've stuck this post out to the end.

First, yesterday I realised that quite literally* EVERYBODY (*god I hate when people say that) on Instagram was signing up for Periscope, which is basically the same thing but with live video. So I did too (I know, I know, I'm such a sheep). I have to be honest: this kind of thing makes me feel really old. My phone asked did I want to sync it with my twitter account and I said yes, and as a consequence I can tell you that I think my username is the same on both: @jo_sews. Right? (Er, good luck finding me there, should you wish to...)  I did one video so far and, having replayed it, realise that next time it would be better not to put my finger over the microphone half way through. Anyway, it's pretty fun to hear my sewing friends speak and see them in live action, so if you're at all tempted, come and join us!

Second - this is a thing that is actually, truly exciting! Drum roll please!!! ... On Thursday 29 October, I will be in London, for the sole purpose of fabric shopping and meeting some of my lovely online friends!  Yippee!!  For the moment, it's just me and the lovely Marilla (yes, I get to fangirl in person!), and I think we're probably not up for organising a sewing meet of enormous proportions (which is why this announcement is hiding at the end of a fairly boring post - just for the true fans hehe), but if you're around and free and fancy joining us at some point - please just say so! There are loads of you lovely UK-based sewers that I'd love to meet, and it drives me nuts that I'm there fairly often and still never manage to meet up with anyone!  We don't have a specific plan yet but the general idea is Goldhawk Road and/or Walthamstow market (are these combinable??), and if I can fit in a quick pilgrimage to Loop as well, I'd be a very happy lady...

Have a happy Sunday evening, everyone! Or Sunday morning / Monday morning / whatever day it is when you're reading this (* delete as applicable).


Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Combi-short Paloma: Make My Lemonade

Don't you just love when you make something so all-round great, you can't decide which part of it is your favourite?  (I hope that does happen to other people too and this isn't just me sounding terribly smug).  Well, my lovelies, this is one of those makes.

I love the back. The surprisingly not-symmetrical lozenge-shaped back yoke, the angle of the straps, the roominess of the bum...


... but then I also love the front, from the pointless seam down the middle of the bib to the shorts slouching over the hips, taking in the ties, pockets and belt loops along the way.

Wrinkles! #pressalltheseams #ironnothing

(Things I do not love: husband taking the photos. I was all set up with the tripod when he arrived back from his run early and insisted on 'helping', which never results in good facial expressions/stylish poses).

Awkward pose? Check. Facial expression? Cropped.

And all that is just the stuff I love about the finished garment. Whereas what I really, really loved was the whole process of making it.  I fell for this pattern hook, line and sinker well before it was a wearable garment. It's a delight!  So, before I give you a tour of the guts, here's the lowdown:
The pattern is the salopette Paloma (Paloma dungarees) by Make My Lemonade. I'm slightly embarrassed to admit that, although I speak French fluently, I've hardly dipped so much as a toe into the vibrant world of French/francophone sewing blogs, and thus I only became aware of this lovely little pattern because Marilla Walker put a picture of it on instagram.  It's an open secret that not only do I love dungarees, but I also have a total fashion-crush on Marilla, who manages to discover and design the most lovely things - it's like having found my own style by stealth, because basically she's doing it already (just better. Crushes have to have an element of aspiration, really, don't they?)
Anyway, long story short, she posted the picture and I immediately bought the pattern. Wait, short story slightly longer: the other thing was, it only costs € 1.99. Seriously! Look here if you don't believe me. For that knockdown price, you obviously don't get a beautiful package with detailed instructions (which does exist but will set you back € 14.90 + shipping) - you get the pdf pattern tiles, the layout for sticking them together and an online instructional video (both in this post).
See what I mean about husband photos? Ugh <shudder>.

Now, the video is in French.  This may understandably seem like an obstacle if you don't speak the language, but if you're prepared to patiently pause your way through it, I think the visuals are probably enough to follow along anyway. You clearly see which bit matches up where, which is the key thing really - if you've used google translate to label your pieces accurately, you'll be fine.  Watch it through once for the big picture, then take it slowly. My only big tip: the notches show where to fold, not where to match pieces up.
For those who do speak French, the video is worth a watch/listen just because she has such a lovely, truly French accent. Or maybe it's just me who'd appreciate that, because I speak French almost exclusively with non-native speakers (or, less frequently, Belgians. Belgians, don't get outraged please!! Native French-speaking Belgians do, of course, speak very nice French too, but, well, how to put this...? It was just lovely to listen to a well-spoken Parisienne for once - and all the more so for not having to experience Paris at the time. There, is that neighbour-insulting enough to make it ok...?)
Err, I seem to have digressed. Yes, the point! The point was, I had basically fallen in love with the pattern the second I started watching the video. I can't help it, I like French, it's my thing. And I've been wondering ever since whether this coloured my view of the whole thing.  But, there's no escaping the cold, hard facts that this pattern is not only stylish and comfortable but also impeccably, interestingly drafted. What more could a (Francophile) sewist want?


One of the things I found most pleasing is the way the shorts pieces are completely straight at the waist, but the waist seams of the front bib and back yoke pieces are curved - which is what gives the salopette it's shape. It was really a little bit magic to sew it together at that point and see how it turns oversized into flattering, just like that.  You can just see too, above, that the straps overlap ever so slightly at the back, which makes them sit very nicely when wearing it. Then there are the belt loops, to visually break up the waistline just enough but not too much.  Plus, I don't know - look at the shapes there? So balanced and geometric! 

And that, in the end, is my absolute favourite thing about this make. Most specifically, it's these triangular overlaps at each side for the snaps. They're so very shapely, so very pointedly contrasting with the curve of the shorts - and they're gloriously, beautifully tidy to construct. The drafting here is ever so precise, and everything matches up where it should, until you end up with a perfectly neat and oh-so-aesthetically-pleasing side/pocket finish.

I just. I can't even. I LOVE THEM.

Too much, maybe? DON'T CARE. Look at this from the right side out! Seriously - how could anyone wear these and not be constantly thinking about how wonderful the closures are?? I can't.

One thing I did do that's not in the pattern is to topstitch various seams, and in particular the side seam from about 1" below the pocket, to reinforce and hold everything in it's perfectly precise place. Then went back and extended it as far up as the lower snap (you can see here, below, where I stopped and then added a couple more inches) because the first time I wore it - fortunately only inside the house - I realised there was some serious knicker-revealing gape. Which has it's time and place I suppose, but this ain't it.

My other, minor changes were for fit.  Make Lemonade mentions that this pattern runs big, and it really does. I made what I hoped would be a wearable muslin and was drowning in it - this version is a size down from the one my measurements put me in. I also slimmed down the sides of the bib a little - the muslin was making me look wider in a place where I'd really rather not be, and it kind of threw the balance off. It's truly amazing what a centimetre's difference can make to how good a garment looks!  The other thing the muslin revealed was the need for a serious flat bum adjustment.  I'd show you a picture because it was hilarious - but in the end I couldn't even stand to take one of me wearing what basically looks like a hugely oversized nappy with straps.  I just traced the back crotch curve a couple of sizes smaller, and fortunately it worked fine.


So, there we are.  My salopette Paloma has been worn every day it's been warm enough (like three times in two weeks ugh Belgian summer) and has stood up very well to picnics in various parks as well as both the construction and de-construction of a mahoosive tent.

With me all the time inwardly smiling about those snap flaps and the pointless, but oddly lovable, centre front seam.