Thread Drawers

A while back I did a little DIY project which brings me so much joy it’s slightly worrying. I made me some beautiful thread drawers. Yes, that’s right, thread drawers. They’re a thing. And mine are my favourites!

The boring "before"
It began with a set of these little Moppe drawers from IKEA, and of course a snoop around Pinterest to see what other creative folk had done with their Moppes. Then, a little white paint, some little card holding drawer pulls and a few tiny labels later and voila! Behold!

Me beautiful drawers

I used to keep my thread all jumbled together in a massive dented biscuit tin, which was fine I guess but not very practical. The drawers, however, are practical AND pretty. So much joy in such tiny drawers. Of course I arranged the thread by colour, then ordered the colours through a spectrum from white to beige to brown to black to dark green to green to yellow to orange to red to pink to purple to blue. Specialist threads got their own drawer (there’s one little solitary spool of silk thread in there currently).

Organising my rainbow of thread while the drawers dried

Needless to say, I love the finished product! Happy Ree, over and out. x

Top 5 of 2014: Reflections and Goals

Now for my favourite bit, reflections and goals.

My Top Six Reflections

I tried to pick five, but I couldn't whittle it down I'm afraid. 

  • I love my ambitiousness. 
  • Having this blog and reading other blogs is brilliant and has DEFINITELY been the biggest contributing factor to my improvements in sewing.
  • I've got so much better at achieving good fit and finish!
  • I'm not that speedy, but that's OK!
  • Having more than one project on the go at once stresses me out.
  • Sewing has made me buy less Ready To Wear. In fact, I can probably count on both hands the RTW items I've bought this year. WOW. This wasn't even a conscious RTW "fast" or anything, but it's definitely down to my sewing.

My Top Five Goals for 2015

  • Restrict the lists! I do sometimes overplan. I have To Sew lists which would stretch me into next year, and that is not really going to do me any good, is it?
  • Make an awesome wedding dress!
  • Sew some knits.
  • Make a big quilt for our home.
  • Use my stash. To be honest I don't have a very large fabric stash (each piece has a plan and there aren't even that many pieces). I do have lots of patterns I haven't sewed from yet, so I'm planning to use those before buying new patterns if I can at all help it. Also I seem to have this inability to get rid of scraps, off-cuts and clothes ejected from my wardrobe. I need to use some of this stuff up! 
I thought I'd end with a look at my sewing year in numbers.

I'm pretty pleased with that! In conclusion, 2014 has been a great year, a formative year in my sewing journey, and the year I started this little blog. I feel proud of what I've achieved in my sewing this year, and so excited for 2015. 

Top 5 of 2014: Hits and Misses

As the year comes to an end and we all get reflective and start to set goals for the year to come, I thought I'd join in with the "Top 5 of 2014" series hosted by Gillian at Crafting A Rainbow. I enjoyed reading lots of these posts last year, when this blog was still a twinkle in my eye, and it looks like a good way to take stock and get ready for a fresh start in 2015. 

My Top Five Hits:

Harlo's Quilt

Harlo's quilt
Well, I'm just so proud of it. My first attempt at quilting, and an unbridled success. This was a long project, out of my usual comfort zone and one of my rare bits of unselfish sewing. It turns out unselfish sewing can be just as fun as the selfish kind! I flipping love the finished quilt.

The Lady Luck Dress (By Hand London's Anna)

The Lady Luck Dress 
This is the first dress I'd properly spent time over fitting. I made various Swedish tracing paper toiled, and lots of adjustments. I took my time and fussed over the fit. I still love this dress just as much as when I first made it!

2 x Butterick B4443s (the Rock Around the Clock dress and the Stevie dress)

The Rock Around the Clock dress
The Stevie dress

The shape and fit of the B4443 just suits me down to the ground. These two dresses have been worn A LOT, and every time I wear them I feel super comfy and "me-like" in them. Must make more! 

3 x Emery dresses (Flowers for Jane, Marion and The Sinking Sun dresses)

The Flowers for Jane dress

The Marion dress

The Sinking Sun dress
I adore these three Emery dresses, and they have been worn and loved loads. I always feel nice wearing them. I love the shape, the fit I've achieved and the fabrics I made these three out of. There will definitely be more Emery dresses!

Liam's PJs

Liam's PJs
Another unselfish one! These have been worn and washed loads, and they are still looking great. Best of all, they're loved by Liam, which makes me happy!

My Top Five Misses:

Taking the Michael Skirt

Taking the Michael skirt
Well, this was doomed from the start. Should've made a Miette! It's not all THAT bad of course, but the fact is that this is not a great shape on me, the wrap doesn't wrap over quite enough and it was a poor fabric choice on my part. 

The Jinx Jacket

The Jinx jacket
Again, the trinity of wrong shape, wrong pattern and wrong fabric. I'll chalk this one up to experience and throw this in the bin (read: 'to refashion' pile).

The Late Dress

The Late Dress
Well, clearly I love the Emery so the pattern is not the issue here. I over adjusted this dress resulting in bad fit. It was just flipping uncomfortable. I have more of this fabric, so I COULD whip up a new bodice and reattach the existing skirt, but to be honest the fabric is not great quality anyway so I don't think I will in the end.

The Ancient Mariner Dress

Why I hate the Ancient Mariner dress
A not-very-successful frankenpattern. The skirt shape isn't really suited to the Anna bodice. The main nail in this one's coffin though was the AWFUL fit. I just felt rubbish every time I wore it, so this one got chopped up for parts a long time ago. Side note: I'm not all that sure whether I like the V-neck Anna bodice. I'll definitely make more of the high neckline version but just not sure whether the V-neck is doing it for me.

The Sherlock Skirt

The Sherlock Skirt
Ah, my first blogged make. I do like it but alas the fabric is just too thick really for this style. Plus the waistband has stretched a bit. I do have a fondness for this though, I'm not sure I can throw it out just yet.

Well,  there we have it. It's really nice actually to sit and think about what has worked and what hasn't (and of course, why). I'll be back soon with my reflections on the year's sewing, and my goals for next year. 

Over and out! x

Harlo's Quilt (my first quilt ever!)

Here it is - my pride and joy, my very first quilt.

Harlo's Quilt

I'm so ridiculously proud of this. I must say, I was never that enamoured with the idea of quilting. I don't know what changed, but suddenly I became a bit obsessed with wanting to make one. I kept seeing gorgeous,  amazing, impressive and artsy quilts everywhere online (see my board on Pinterest for a few of my favourites) and also in Sew magazine.  So, I decided to dive straight in with this nautical chevron number for my baby nephew Harlo's joint Christmas and christening gift. He has this amazing nautical bib which really suits him, and I do love a nautical print, so the idea for this quilt was born. You can spot some dress off cuts in there (red spots of my Marion dress and blue waves of my Ancient Mariner dress), but the rest were bought specially. Why oh why didn't I buy more of the pale blue anchor print and the red striped anchor print to make me some dresses out of? Error. 

As you might be able to see, the chevron pattern on this quilt is made of rectangular pieces, not triangles. I thought I'd better stick to the grain line on my first quilt. I used a mixture of "my method" (winging it) and this tutorial from Crazy Mom Quilts. This tutorial was especially helpful with how to sew the blocks together. I honestly would have fudged this up otherwise. 

I do now wish I had made those original little rectangles BIGGER. It took so blooming long to cut them all, sew them all together, lay them out.... You get the idea. But I am so chuffed with the result, that's all forgotten now. 

There were only a few "minor panic" moments during the making of the quilt. And they were these:

1) "Uh oh. What if I've not been accurate enough with my cutting and sewing? My chevrons won't match up!!" I should have more faith in my ability to fudge it and make it work on the fly. I managed with a bit of artful matching and folding to get all the chevrons to line up. Ahhhh.

2) "The quilt top looks so NICE. Am I about to ruin it with my first attempt  at quilting?!" 

3) "I bet I'm committing many cardinal sins of quilting."

4) "I've stabbed myself with a pin and BLED on this new lovely quilt. Well done, Ree."

Worry not, the blood came out. I did fine without a walking foot, and no matter how many cardinal sins of quilting I may have committed, I did end up with a quilt. 

I used a thin 100% cotton wadding by Simply Cotton, which was of lovely quality. I stitched in the ditch of my chevron design. Well, mostly in the ditch. sometimes just next to the ditch. I love the effect it creates on the back. 

Mitred corner!
So, have I been bitten by the quilting bug? Well. Kind of. I do absolutely want to make more, but not yet! I would like to make one for our bed and one for the living room sofa, but they'll be such big projects I think if better wait till after Project Wedding Dress. 

I hope Harlo likes the quilt! 

Christmas Gift Sewing: A Baby Dress and Other Things

Hello all! I can't wait to show you my latest completed projects! *fanfare*

Mylah's dress (pattern from GBSB's Sew Your Own Wardrobe)
I've really missed blogging this month. The odd thing is I've been busier making things than ever before, but I just haven't been able to share any of it with you (yet). There's Project Wedding Dress, of course, and although I'm doing alright with progress, I'm a bit behind on my self imposed schedule. Trying to be cool about it! I'm also making some presents for my two bridesmaids to thank them for all their help, and I'm helping them make their dresses. Then, of course, there are Christmas gifts! I LOVE making Christmas presents, and always have loads of ideas of gifts to make for friends and family. With everything else I've taken on at the moment though, I tried not to take on too much more.

So, here are a few of the pressies I have finished. This is the sweet little dress I made for our baby niece, Mylah. Construction-wise, all was pretty straight forward, and I had a lot of fun making this. The materials were all stuff I already had, so this was zero-spend! Woohoo!

There's not much to explain about this one, except that
1. I could've ironed it before taking these pictures (sorry)
2. I sewed the button holes horizontally instead of vertically. I only realised as I was sewing the last one. "Noooooo!" I cried. Then, "Oh wait, she's a baby, she's probably not going to mind."

Pattern: Baby dress (9-12 months) from Great Bristish Sewing Bee "Sew Your Own Wardrobe" book
Fabric: from the stash! I love how little fabric it took to make this!
Buttons: from the stash
Notions: self-made bias binding (using this continuous bias tape tutorial on the Coletterie)

I'm calling this one a success. My top-stitching is probably not the neatest ever but this was a good project to try and fix that! It's pretty neat for me so I'm pleased with my top-stitching progress!! Unfortunately Mylah lives 200 miles away, so there are just flat garment pictures to show you.

Also, another Scrap Happy make in these little Oyster card wallets. I've sewn a few of these as presents and one for myself, but this is my latest (and most favourite). I made a little template from an existing Oyster card holder, then interfaced all the pieces before stitching it all together. Such a great scrappy project. (And again, top stitching is getting much neater).

My other BIG Chistmas project has been my first ever quilt, for my nephew Harlo. It's not done yet, but it's almost there and is looking pretty good! I'm looking forward to revealing all my hard work on it soon.

I'm feeling decidedly festive and am having huge urges to make Christmas party dresses. Alas, I may not have time, we'll see!

Over and out x

Taking the Michael skirt

This skirt nearly didn't get blogged, but in the end I felt a bit sorry for it and decided to blog it anyway. Plus my sewing output has reaaaally slowed down while I tackle Project Wedding Dress, so it's nice to have something to show you!

Taking the Michael skirt (McCalls 7316)
I love the idea of wrap skirts, and I made this in the summer time thinking it would be a really practical summer skirt. It also ticked the "Ree, you should make more separates" box.  Well, I didn't wear it at all over the summer, mainly cause it looked weird with everything I tried to wear it with! Anyway, I have worn it a few times so far in this rather warm autumn. I'm still not sure about it but Liam really likes it, and I usually trust his styling opinion!

I call this look "apron chic". The amount of wrap over isn't huge so I have been wearing it with leggings and my boots rather than with tights. Even though I'm wearing it with tights in the pictures. Breezy autumn days and wrap skirts aren't beat buds!

This was a very quick make, and came about as I was looking for something to make with the small amount of this heart print cotton I have had lying around for ages. I plumped for this as I've made other views of the pattern before (McCalls 7316), so I thought it'd be a pretty simple sew. It was, especially since I didn't bother with button holes to thread the ties through. What can I say, I was feeling lazy!

Anyway I shall leave you now, and will hopefully be back soon with more to share! 

Over and out! 

The Sinking Sun dress

Hello! Today I have to show you my new favourite dress. 

the Sinking Sun dress (Christine Haynes' Emery pattern with pleated skirt)
It's yet another Emery, again with pleats on either side of centre of the skirt. In fact it's exactly the same as my last version of the Emery, except with the 3/4 length sleeves which I had previously not tried. The sleeves weren't toiled, I just cut the same size as my short sleeved versions (a ten on the sleeve heads grading to an 8 for the straight underarm seam. I should have graded in more, because these sleeves were BIG on me. I do have disproportionally thin arms, so I understand why this would be the case, but it made me look horrid and short and frumpy. Those sleeves added half a stone to me. But by this point I had already made the dress up and had my heart set on 3/4 sleeves. It's autumn after all. And somehow the purple and red in the print was asking for 3/4 length sleeves. 

So, being too lazy and stubborn to cut out new  sleeves, I made do and altered the ones I had already made up. I shortened them by a good 4 inches, then added a little pleat to the sleeve hem. I actually love this feature now, it gives me room to manoeuvre, but still looks fitted. Wonderful! 

Close up of my make-do sleeve

So the sleeves were fixed. Phew! I don't think I'll be making another 3/4 length sleeved Emery any time soon though. At least not without some sleeve adjusting work going on. But actually, I think the short sleeves are more practical anyway - easier to throw a cardigan or jumper over, and easier to cross seasons with. I definitely prefer the silouette of the Emery with short sleeves. BUT I stand by my decision to keep the longer ones on this dress - it totally works and is in keeping with the overall feel of the dress. I'm happy. 

As you can see I didn't *properly* pattern match, but I did make sure, for instance, a big red splodge is next to a big red splodge. You can see in the picture above that I tried to line up the kind of row of green peeking through at the very top of the back bodice / sleeve heads. It worked out pretty darn well!

The fabric is a beautifully soft Swiss cotton, which must be very finely spun and tightly woven as it is so light, soft and drapey, with a very slight sheen on the right side. I just fell in love with the print, then touched it and went "Ooooh". So it is super comfy to wear as well as lovely to look at. I lined it with some of my trusty cotton lawn from classic textiles,  and gave it a centred zip rather than an invisible one as I had an ordinary one "in stock" in a coordinating colour. I always shop my zip bag first! It helps that ages ago one of my neighbours gave me a selection of brand new zips, all different lengths and colours, which make up the majority of my "stock". Hooray for free zips. 

The finished dress is glorious, and has been worn twice already. It's going to be a definite autumn favourite! Bonus is that it goes with my wonderfully bright oasis pumps. 

In other news, I have started my very first quilt (a Christmas gift). It's a nautical themed quilt, and I am currently kicking myself that I didn't buy enough of my nautical print fabrics to make awesome nautical dresses from. What a fool.

I may just have to buy more....

Blog Hopping

So the next stop on the blog hop is here! Thank you to Coo at Betty Stitchup for nominating me to take part. Coo is a fellow performer by trade, and I love her blog. She makes SUCH gorgeous vintage-inspired dresses, and knits up a storm too! Her blog-hop post is here, have a look-see!

So, on to my answers...

What am I working on?

I'm currently working towards making my wedding dress, which is definitely the biggest, most ambitious and most important sewing project I've ever undertaken. I want to keep it as a surprise though, so I am going to blog about it after our wedding, which is in June. It's so hard not to share though! I am writing blog posts as I go along, and trying to remember to take 'in progress ' shots as I go, so that when it's time to share I will have a series of posts written as The Project went along, rather than written retrospectively. It's also hard keeping the progress of the dress hidden from my fiancé. Any problem or mini victory, I just want to show him and the blog world! I bet as I get further down the line with the making of the dress I will need the advice of the super wonderful online sewing community, so be prepared for cryptic tweets or a "help please!" blog post. I'm sure Project Wedding Dress will challenge my sewing skills!

Got to keep my sketches secret too!
I have a few milestones in Project Wedding Dress before I get to the actual dress, and at the moment I am making a silk slip / nightie to practice working with silk and lace (plus is will be wedding night appropriate). So far I have made a little toile, sorted out the fit and am silk-shopping tomorrow! Eep exciting!

Toile of slip, made from drapey polyester I found in dad's loft

How does my work differ from others in it's genre?

I'm not sure if it does. I try not to compare myself to others. My favourite blogs to read are definitely the ones where I feel like I'm getting a little glimpse into the world of the blogger, so I try to keep that in mind as I write. I make a point of trying to document my triumphs and challenges alike. I don't want to present myself as perfect, or always successful in my creative endeavours. I would like my blog to be a true reflection of my sewing adventures and hopefully it is! 

In terms of my sewing, I'm not sure whether that differs from others much either! I sew what I like and I like what I sew (most of the time). I sew things that excite me and fit with my personal style.

Why do I write / create what I do?

I create because I am a creative person. I'm always brimming with ideas, and I love nothing more than creating something new that wasn't there before. Be that art, music, theatre, clothes, cards... Pretty much anything. I have a need to create, and sewing is an extension of that. I love it for the process, the craft, the skill, and of course the finished result. I have always loved clothes, and have always been highly interested in style. So the fact that I have the power to create my own clothes, to express my style in my way, with pieces made by my own two hands is really liberating. 

Coupled with that is the fact that I can't often find the kind of clothes I want to buy in the shops. And if I do, I'm usually very picky about their quality and finish.... Or I can't afford them!! Making things has always been a solution for me. "I'll just make one instead" is a common utterance in our house! My parents were a huge influence on my creativeness. My mum sewed, knit, crocheted and made lots of beautiful things, and my dad is a potter, joiner, tiler, plumber... in short very handy indeed!

Instagram snap of the pot I threw under dad's tuition last time I was up at home
I write about what I create for a few reasons. When I started getting right into sewing properly a couple of years ago, blogs were a huge source of inspiration, help and advice. They helped me no end to improve my sewing and to really get excited by sewing again. So I really wanted to join that creative, supportive, inspirational fold! Plus, I wanted a way to document what I was creating, especially as I got better at sewing and grew prouder of my makes! I love to write and to share, and blogging makes me happy! That's why I do it!

How does my writing / creative process work?

I have a firm "no UFO" policy. I used to have a box labelled "current/unfinished projects" which was getting way too full. I found that i would leave things languishing there for years (yes, actual years) so I decided henceforth to finish every flipping thing I start, or throw it away if I decide it really isn't worth finishing. I have to say my new policy works a treat, but it does mean that I usually only make one thing at a time. I'm thinking that this will not apply to my wedding dress, as I know I will need some littler, lighter projects to keep me happy as I go along, between silk and lace and hand sewing. Or maybe I won't have time!

I have a sewing notebook, in which I write down little notes about the garments I've sewn straight after I've finished making them.That way when I make my next version I can remind myself of what I needed to adjust, alter or keep in mind from previous versions. I usually draft blog posts on my phone, on my commutes to my various jobs. I like that there's a productive way to use my train and tube time!  Taking photos happens whenever we've got time (Liam takes my photos for me).  I don't work to a blogging timetable or post on specific days, just whenever I have something to share. Sometimes if I'm in the midst of a sewing project and encounter a problem, I will write some of my blog post right then, in the middle of the frustration. It helps me to solve the problem sometimes!

My sewing notebook
Notes about my slip toile

Hop On...
Thanks for reading, it's been fun to take part in the blog hop and share a little bit about my creative process. I am passing the torch onto two wonderful sewing bloggers (drum roll please...)

Danielle at One Small Stitch, who sews and knits gorgeous, gorgeous pieces, and lately has been sewing up lots of lovely knit garments. Danielle inspires me so much with her finishing. All her makes always look so neat! 

And Sally from The Quirky Peach. Her blog always makes me smile. I love how much joy she exudes. Not only that but she makes beautiful clothes in fun prints and styles. 

They're both hugely inspirational to me, so do check out their posts next week!

Over and out!