Friday, 31 August 2012

Selfish? Me? Now, wait a minute ...

I'm going to be entirely open and transparent - this post is all about winning something for me! On the other hand bringing this to the attention of others lessens my chances :(

However, fledgling blog, few followers ... I've weighed it up, I'll run the risk :D

There is a fab giveaway over at Sew Christine, the only entry requirement being a mention on a blog, Facebook or Twitter. Done.

If you visit Christine's blog you'll see some amazing bags, her tutorials are very clear and she's featured in many UK magazines. She also has Jessie, the sewing wonder dog as a regular contributor to the blog. I'm not sure I'm up to anything but the most basic bag making yet but as luck would have it she even has a shop.

I happen to know Christine is a very talented lady, with many crafty skills, because I used to be lucky enough to work for her. A scarily brilliant lady, so smart, such an eye for colour and creative with a wicked sense of humour. And fab shoes, that were regularly discarded under the desk because comfort wasn't generally one of the criteria when buying!

But don't enter the giveaway, you hear me?

Monday, 27 August 2012

Hello, my name is Jacq, I have ABCD

My friends say I have CDO, OCD but with the letters in alphabetical order as they should be. (Of course this begs the question, what do people who aren't my friends say about me but I'm determinedly not worrying about that). I don't, I know actual OCD can be debilitating, but it's probably fair to say I have tendencies. I'm not sure labels are always helpful, the danger being a person can end up being defined by it. However, the fact is this does seem to run in the family. The whole nature/nurture debate is really interesting and, given the quirky make-up of my family I believe it's a combination of the two, hardly a ground-breaking theory I know.

The trick, that seems to work for all of us, is about channeling it, taking a focus on food and drink and shifting it slightly has resulted in an 8 stone weight loss for my brother in 10 months - amazing. (FYI, Star Wars name - Han Solo!) His health has improved markedly but he is now obsessed with cycling, and seems to have acquired a large collection of very interesting cycling clothes! Apparently, being a fairly sober dresser ordinarily has no bearing and he was bidding on a very bold purple/yellow cycling jersey yesterday!

This conversation with my brother yesterday got me thinking about my sewing, and crafting in general. I definitely make bolder things than I would have bought in the past. I've only been sewing clothes since February but my choices are noticeably different, and regularly commented on by others.

So when do you have too much?

I know I'm never going to make some of these, I knew that when I bought them but they make me smile!

And my blog title? I used to work with young children with Additional Learning Needs. We had the full range of labels in our bunch. One little girl started every conversation with 'I have ADHD', a disclaimer of sorts. Another little lad told his Mum that 'J' had ABCD and that appeals to my sense of order. We were pretty sure all the staff had ABCD, as evidenced by the number of lists & notes!

Posted with BlogsyPosted with Blogsy

Friday, 24 August 2012

Plans, false starts & new beginnings

Well, on the plus side I did get on with some crafting this weekend. Not as much as I would have liked but for good reasons. We had a celebration on Friday for my brother S who has achieved so much in the last year it was deserving of a get together (and a proper mascara-running grizzle on my part, I am such a weeper!). Than we had a family barbeque on Saturday to celebrate a cousin's wedding anniversary. We even had great weather for both events, a welcome bonus.

I made lots of plans - crochetwise I needed a re-think. I'm long overdue finishing a cot blanket. It's a lovely Ripple, using Lucy's brilliant pattern over at Attic 24. I've made it before, fairly recently, and I think that's the problem. I should have had a break but it was the perfect pattern for a baby boy's seaside themed bedroom so I ignored my instincts and started, sadly it's the finishing that's the issue so:

Plan 1 - take the Ripple to work and do a stripe every lunchtime (this should also get me back on track and make me take a work break)

I also have several spa washcloths made, perfect to go with toiletries for gifts, I don't have nearly enough. These are so quick and there are even different patterns and I've still inexcusably lost momentum so:

Plan 2 - take washcloths on flight in September, the perfect little travel project

As mentioned before I really want to crochet along with Little Woollie's blanket, I have the yarn, I have a long standing order from my daughter, but felt guilty about starting another WIP so:

Plan 3 - just start, I know I want to, and look on it as an opportunity to find my crochet mojo! And it's a stash buster - yay!

I had a false start with sewing. Having had another go at wrestling Doris into shape (ably assisted by my OH) she's now pretty much spot on. I dressed her in a button-back blouse muslin, using a 60s pattern I bought recently. It's a good pattern, it fits, I'm just not sure it's 'me'. I need to think about it, it might be a grower.

So I started a new skirt using a TNT 60s pattern I found for 50p. I used this pattern for my elephant skirt which I've worn repeatedly. I thought this would be a quick win but my machine had tension issues (I also had tension issues having taken the zip out 4 times because the stitches were iffy!). I unpicked it again, re-threaded, changed the needle etc - and then left the machine in the corner, to think about it's disappointing behaviour, I'm hoping this will rectify everything!

I'm counting that lot as progress :)

Friday, 17 August 2012

"Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?"

This feels a bit odd, having wittered away at myself for a few weeks, I won some buttons and there are people out there actually reading this stuff. My son is highly amused by my struggle with this taking the irritatingly logical "that's actually what blogging is for, Mum" approach. I was just writing my lists, pushing myself along with projects and figuring out how to actually upload things! Having had visitors I would have liked to get a post out, in lieu of a cup of tea and a piece of cake, but it's been a bit of a manic week and I've not managed it. So, if you're not already bored rigid ... Hi, I'm genuinely really pleased to meet you. Thank you so much for your comments, I'll try not to talk rubbish.

The real frustration of this week has been I've not managed to do anything crafty - not a stitch, not a card, not even a row of the crocheted blanket that is long overdue. I promised to teach H to crochet before she goes on holiday, so that she's got some little washcloth projects to practice on - I haven't even managed to do that. It's making me very grumpy. And I'm not sleeping well at all. Does this happen to anyone else?

The worst of it is, I know I need to do something creative (I use this term loosely, some of my endeavours are a bit more 'miss' than 'hit'), entirely different from what I do at work. I had a bit of a bumpy time earlier in the year, nothing major, more potholes than craters. I know I need to make time to do the things I love but at the first sign of a busy period at work I forgot everything I'd learnt - skipped lunch, worked long hours, brought stuff home. So now I'm grumpy and annoyed with myself.

I do feel guilty about the time my hobbies take up. I get so much support from my family - P cooks dinner so that I can finish the skirt I've decided I have to wear the next day, my son helped me wrestle Doris into shape, my daughter bought me a fabric and button covered notebook for special lists. So there's no pressure from them, it's all self-inflicted. This is why I need a good talking to. A wise lady told me to treat myself as I would a friend - I think I just need a bit more practice!

So, this weekend I'm putting some time aside on Sunday - definite crafting going to happen. And Elmo and I need to go through this little lot...
Sadly not mine, they all belong to H's grandma who has said I can have a good look through and even borrow some if I want to make them. There are some brilliantly quirky patterns, I'll upload photos. There are also some I am absolutely going to make. I'm trying to figure out how much it is reasonable to grade a pattern up or down - sadly I think some of them might be too big a difference for me to try.

And I think I'm going to have to take part in this crochet along over at Little Woollie. Have you seen her creations? Amazing. I don't actually need another WIP but my daughter put an order in for this blanket some months ago. It needs to be double bed size and I decided it was an autumn/winter project, it would have been too hot even in the abbreviated summer we've had. I even have the yarn - so no excuses.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

I am a winner!

Doris modelling winner's medal & Sorbetto No 4 (£2.80 remnant from John Lewis)
I thought I'd peaked yesterday, with Doris' arrival, but apparently not! I cannot believe I won the buttons in the Did you make that? giveaway. I never win prizes, ever. And these aren't any buttons, they are part of Karen's amazing Simplicity 4934, a vintage suit pattern that has been to San Francisco and back whilst she's worked on it.

I was very excited about the transatlantic nature of the project. My brother (family Star Wars name Yoda - he thinks this is because he is wise, actually he's the shortest!) lives in SF, it's one of my favourite places.

Now, I might be a little over optimistic but I'm banking on gaining extra sewing skills just because the buttons were destined for greatness and are in close proximity, by some kind of crafty osmosis I'm envisaging a leap in my skill set!

Friday, 10 August 2012

It's 'Doris' Day!

I am so excited - Doris arrived today! She's the last purchase from my 'Sewing Fund' birthday money. It's taken since April for me to decide how to spend it all. As a beginner there are a few things on my list, it feels a bit overwhelming. I know from other crafting it's worth waiting sometimes to see what you really need.
Karen at Did You Make That? very kindly replied to my request for advice. Her blog is so brilliant, I've been following it for a while. Even though the quality of her sewing is amazing she still manages to be inspirational rather than intimidating!

Getting Doris to be a reasonable proximity to my shape has taken a bit of wrestling but I think I'm pretty much there. Of course she's squarish, I'm kind of thinner from the side view and wider from the front/back! So I've had some help with the maths, stuffed a bra with toy stuffing and put her in a muslin for a Colette Hazel that fits me really badly - it's not looking good on her either - result! I am desperate to make this dress and have the perfect vintage fabric. At least now I've got a pretty good idea of what where to make the changes. Thank you Doris!

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Tilly's Picnic Blanket Skirt

Hurray, I finally made a version (OK, pretty much direct copy) of Tilly's Picnic Blanket skirt.
I wanted to make it with checked fabric and this is the only one in my stash, fabric choice decision easily made.
I don't know why the waist looks wonky in the photo, it isn't. I have a total aversion to having my photo taken, am always the one behind the camera. This is the aspect of sewing and joining in that has actually been a real issue for me, but I want to catalogue what I've made and am trying to just deal with it. So we could have had another go but my boy knew I'd want to get it over and done with!
The star of the show is Elmo, she always turns up for a photo and constantly gets in on the crafty action.

Goodness the garden is a mess, it's even worse in real life, must stop crafting and do a bit of weeding.
I really enjoyed making this, quick and easy. I just followed Tilly's tutorial, I know some people did the hem and buttonholes in a different order, but it wasn't necessary with the gingham. I will do some things differently when I make my next one but that's because I'm a novice, not a reflection of Tilly's instructions.

Monday, 6 August 2012

Advice from Pooh

“Organisation is what you do before you do something, so that when you do it, it’s not all mixed up.”

A A Milne

I am loving this, I worked out how to add a page (all by myself, no help from my boy) and wrote my Achievements List for 2012. It's only August and I've made masses of stuff, I feel like I'm my own cheerleading squad, 'Go Jacq!'

It was a real mindshift for me to go from To Do lists to Achievements lists but it is really making a difference. I have To Do lists at work, why did I ever think that would motivate my hobbies? Of course, I need lists, but positive, under my control ones!

It goes hand in hand with my new 'judge myself as I would a friend' approach, which admittedly I'm finding hard to do but am determined to get the hang of.

Now, if only I could get the hang of blog buttons ...

Sunday, 5 August 2012

A Learning Curve

I know I'm not alone, I really struggle to buy stuff when I think I can make it myself. I drive my husband bonkers because I'm stubborn and take on far too much not always realistic about what I can achieve in the time I have available. I'm working hard at being kinder to myself, cutting myself a bit of slack, and that means choosing my projects a bit more carefully. Apparently overloading yourself with craft projects is not a sensible way to deal with being overextended in other areas of your life! Who knew?

So, what I don't need is another 'project' but a 'quick win' is a different kettle of fish.

I saw a dress in a shop in Whitstable and really liked it. P said 'treat yourself', I said 'it's just 2 rectangles' - so we popped in the fabric shop (twice, obviously, I'm an Olympic standard ditherer). I like to support the local shops - I just prefer to be buying the raw materials. The lady in the shop was very patient whilst I draped bolts of fabric over myself trying to figure out how much I needed.

I knew I'd recently seen something similar at cationdesigns blog but I wanted to add some shirred details like the dress in the shop. Actually, with hindsight I should have stuck to her design and fabric choice exactly but I was thinking of the dress in the shop. I thought of all the time I'd save that I'd usually spend tracing pattern pieces and cutting out - no pattern, just need to keep holding it up to figure out placement, piece of cake.

So, as a beginner, what did I learn from my first try at completely winging a garment for myself:

Totally over estimated the fabric width, even allowing for the gathering once shirred, so back to the drawing board. I do this every time, make everything too big, not sure why I'm getting it so wrong but measuring correctly would save me so much time and aggro. I actually ended up cutting my original Front in half length ways to make front & back which was much better.

5 lines of shirring at the waist did not work but that gave me masses of fabric at the chest so I ripped those out to replace with shirring under the bust, much better but led to another issue. The positive is that sewing, unpicking, and re-sewing endless lines of shirring means I got much better at it and figured out the best set up for my machine when using elastic.

I should not assume that liking a dress on the hanger means it will suit me once on, why did I do that? I would never just buy a dress in a shop without trying it on, I think I felt guilty about trying on something I had no intention of buying but it would have saved me some time.

Empire line styles don't really suit me, what was I thinking? I know this. And if masses of fabric at the bust is not a good look, why would shifting it downwards help? This would make a perfect maternity dress, not the look I was going for! So I should spend my time sewing stuff I will actually wear, that should just be obvious.

However, I'm not counting this as a total loss. I learnt such a great deal.

Pattern: None

Cost: 2.5m of fabric @ £10; thread 50p (staggeringly I did not have anything like a match in my stash, which proves that my stash is totally under control)

Made it myself saving: ??

Time taken: Totally stopped counting, I am clearly not good at winging it!

Satisfaction level: Mixed.

  • I don't have the sundress I was planning on but I learnt a great deal
  • I remembered some things I already knew (but ignored because I got carried away!)
  • The dress is a perfectly acceptable beach cover up and I will definitely use it for that, the cotton is cool and it will work fine over a bikini
  • I only used half the fabric, so I have enough for a blouse or dresses for my nieces
  • I will feel less resentful of the time I spend tracing and cutting pattern pieces in future, it is obviously time well spent

Friday, 3 August 2012

Little Wanzer? There's old ... And there's old!

We popped in to see my in-laws last weekend, we're helping them with their new iPad. At 80 and 75 they're doing pretty well, certainly better than they were with the old pc they had, which finally gave up the ghost. I always thought I was quite good at explaining stuff but I realised I'd pitched it wrong very quickly. Small steps, and this week we're practising forwarding and replying to emails.

Totally out of the blue my FiL, B, said he had something for me, used to belong to a Great Auntie Edith (there were several 'greats' but we couldn't establish quite how many). Just wow ...

I think it is a Little Wanzer Time Utilizer machine, but don't really know much at all, having just searched a bit on the internet.

We made a family tree album for my FiL a couple of years ago and, given the info B has I think the machine dates to about 1870-80. We know from the census that 2 ladies in the family were milliners at the time. Given the cost of sewing machines (equivalent to buying a car now) this would have been a really considered purchase which seems more likely if it was to earn a living.

I honestly feel overwhelmed to have this - and it works! A very big Wow :)