Sunday, 29 November 2015

Sewing routines and regular life

I've been reading about people's routines recently, and how they fit time for making into their daily lives. It's amazing how varied people's suggestions are! Tilly Walnes advocates sewing for 15 minutes every morning, before you start the rest of your day. Rachel Pinheiro says that she does everything in bulk: prepping patterns, cutting out, and sewing several different garments at once. Katie mentions that she puts everything away entirely between sewing sessions.

Something that really stuck with me recently was reading an Instagram comment, where a sewist said something along the lines of: I'm going try to stop checking my phone so much and spend that time sewing! It's so easy to be distracted, especially when the Internet is full of a never-ending stream of beautiful projects that inspire you onto your next project. Of course, unfortunately, I seem to spend a lot more time admiring and planning than actually working on projects! I've currently got quite a big backlog of things that I want to make, and time is as usual running out.

What I've always struggled with is wanting to do too many things at once, and not having a routine. I've tried getting up at 8am every day, but it just doesn't work for me because I don't have a set bedtime. Sometimes I get home from uni or work at 6.30pm, sometimes at 11pm. I'm a night owl by nature, but doing careful sewing in artificial light isn't great.

Commuting routines have always been successful for me. Recently it's been raining so I've been taking public transport, which has given me much more time for knitting. Sewing has relied more on bursts of inspiration; but I think that if I try to stop myself mindlessly scrolling, I might be able to make some progress on my huge project pile.

Do you have a regular time set aside for hobbies, or do you make when inspiration strikes?

Friday, 13 November 2015

Penitentiary Pyjamas

My latest make…Penitentiary Pyjamas!

Although there is a Lightnin' Hopkins song called Penitentiary Blues, I keep getting the much catchier tune of the St James Infirmary blues in my head instead whenever I think about these Penitentiary Pyjamas. 

Are you listening to it? Great! 

I'm so excited to share this project with you. Recently, I was browsing in one of my favourite fabric shops for lining fabric, when I instead came across this lovely black and white striped knit. I knew straight away that I'd like to make another Hemlock T-shirt with it, so it came home with me. The fabric is ponte di Roma, which I'd never used before. 

This time I just used the Hemlock pattern straight up, as it's offered online - no fiddling around with length. The fabric was great to work with - really easy to cut and sew, hardly creases, and doesn't even really need finishing. I overlocked the T-shirt together in a flash, then added a contrast pocket for fun. I'd wanted to cut the neckband the other way (to have fun vertical stripes going around the neckline), however ponte di roma is a fabric which only has a little horizontal stretch and no vertical stretch at all, so this wasn't feasible. 

The sleeves again ended up a bit of a weird length for me. I overlocked bands onto the edge, as I prefer this finishing method for knits; but still the bracelet length sleeve is slightly impractical for this boxy, oversized sweater. I tried it on and had a brainwave: it wanted to be pyjamas!

The next day I dug out the pattern that I'd previously devised for leggings. I then traced around a pair of my favourite pair of old leggings, and amalgamated the two different patterns. I did lots of measuring, added ease, and then did the sensible thing of cutting the leggings out with 1" seam allowance all around. (I should really have done this before, to avoid leggings-gate.) To my surprise, they seemed to fit! I added more ease to accommodate my muscular calves, and took them in more around the hips to avoid the saggy crutch look. Then, I overlocked them together.

The leggings are still a little tight around the calves, which makes them ride up at the ankles and knees as you can see. But overall, this is my most successful pair of leggings yet! Fine-tuning the pattern along the contours of the leg will help achieve a better fit, but I'm really happy to finally have a better starting-point for those tricky knits with no vertical stretch. 

I've slept in them all week and they're very cosy and snuggly. Although I normally tend to try to avoid more synthetic fabrics (this ponte de Roma is a viscose and polyester blend), the fabric is quite soft and it's insulating without getting too hot. 

 I may make another pair with more ease, as looser pyjamas are more comfortable. And my boy-friend came home from work to find me in this jailbird look and requested the same for himself! So this won't be the last you see of what's surely the ultimate in stripes.

Project details:
Penitentiary Pyjamas
Pattern: Grainline Studio's Hemlock T-shirt // My own leggings pattern
Notes: Be aware of the sleeve length!
Fabric: 2.5m stripe ponte di Roma, viscose/polyester blend, from Classic Textiles, Goldhawk Road
Cost: £12 for the fabric; threads and patterns in my stash!

Monday, 2 November 2015

Azuma bukuro - linen lunch bags

After I finished making my Japanese trousers, I had a few sizeable scrap pieces leftover. I loved the textural linen - slubby and coarse-woven, so that the plain weaving forms the texture. I thought that the pieces would be lovely for some kind of home ware.  Following from my analysis of my textile purchases last year, I know that I should try to make more everyday items such as tea towels. This cloth would have been perfect for that purpose - but unfortunately my leftovers were too narrow. I didn't want to make napkins (boring!) or an apron, so I was a little stumped for what to do as I equally didn't want the cloth to get sucked into my stash. Then I discovered the blog Fringe Association; and more specifically, their sister site Fringe Supply Co's product 'bento bags'. I was smitten!

These gorgeous little textiles are more commonly known as 'azuma bukuro', but I loved the product name 'bento bag' - a textile to stash all your snacks in so that they don't get lost in your backpack; and which folds up very small.

There are several tutorials available online; three methods are reviewed here. After some consideration I chose to follow the simplest method available which uses only two seams. I used the tutorial on Coco Stitch; and there's a clearer diagram available here.  The bag is formed by cutting a long rectangle, hemming it, and folding it into thirds. 

I love how the flat, geometric bag is immediately transformed into vessel and a form, just by placing an object inside. The tied bag has a pleasing quality to it; a bundle of snacks.

I made my first bag very simply, to try out the method. I immediately fell in love with this textile and had to make another from my remaining linen scrap. This time, I added a piece of interfacing into the centre third; and lined it. I bagged out the rectangle with a piece of lovely quilting cotton (leftover from my quilt) and topstitched the seam before sewing it together. This made it sturdier, so you can carry more food in it.

The fabrics look great together; and I was so thrilled by the simplicity of this useful everyday project. I forced everybody that I met the next day to admire my lunch bag (sorry!). 

I'm now excited at the other possibilities that this wrapped textile project can offer. It's a seriously good way to use up leftover scraps that are an otherwise awkward size. There are only so many zip pouches that one can make and give; but this bag has a sense of novelty and fun. I think that it would be a great alternative, eco-friendly approach to wrapping for that big celebration of food and gift-giving that's coming up soon…

Project details
Project details:
Azuma bukuro / Bento bags
Pattern: This tutorial by Coco Stitch. 
Modifications: Interface the central square; bag out to line. 
Fabric: leftovers from trousers and quilt
Cost: £0

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Find Tailoring Tales on Bloglovin

For those of you who like to use a feed reader, you can find this blog on Blogloving.