Saturday, 25 June 2011

The elves are off on holiday

It's either that or they've deserted me. I've left out all manner of tempting treats, from lindt chocolates to miniature christmas cakes (don't ask why I am making christmas cakes in June. I just felt like it.)

But still, there is just a little heap of unsewn fabric in the morning, and fat looking cats...

Which is a shame, as I've only got a bit left to do on my dress, and I'll all ready to go on the next project. I've even drawn the pattern out all neatly ready to scan in for you guys. (They are 'Pram trousers' not sure what else to call them. Reversible quilted over-trousers with little bootie feet to put on when you are out and about in the pram...)

I've even cut out the fabric (pink with little dogs on the outside, green with little birds on the inside.) but still nothing's happened.

All I've managed to do in their absence, is a teeny bit of Ellie's quilt, and I've covered eight little buttons for my dress. Oh big wow, I hear you say...

And you're right. It's rubbish, and shows quite plainly how I've come to rely on the little blue fellows.

I shall endeavour to do better next week.

Friday, 17 June 2011

Here's the latest on the dress. The left hand picture shows a view looking down the dress, whereas the right hand picture shows a front view of the left front. Ignore the pink top I'm wearing underneath (although it is quite pretty.) What I've done is reverse scalloped the edges. This was a bit fiddly to do as I had to try and very carefully poke out the points of each scallop (19 in total!) . I found a small crotchet hook worked very well. When both sides line up (with a small space in between for the button) this should make a small circle. And before you start thinking it looks a bit daring, I am going to be putting something behind it!

After all the good weather we've had here lately, Ellie hasn't had much need to wear the coat the elves and I made her, which has been a bit gutting to say the least. I'm hoping that I drafted the pattern big enough for the coming winter, but still I was pleased to have an opportunity for her to wear it this last weekend. Not incredibily pleased as it meant that our trip out to Kenilworth castle was very wet. Here is my husband and Ellie standing in the pouring rain. Other than her feet (from jumping in puddles) she was lovely and dry inside.

Anyway, I want to update you on my quilt. Here are all the fabrics together. There are a bit mental, and even though I knew they were a bold fabrics, it is still a little shocking altogether.
Ellie was a big fan, and didn't even want to wait for it to be finished. Here she is all tucked up. She has a cold this week poor little thing, so is looking a bit down.
Nancy on the other hand (not wanting to leave her out) is doing well, although I suspect she might have a sore throat as the rest of us do... Isn't she cute!
Anyway back to the quilt. It is a hawaiian design, and you had to trace out the design like a paper snowflake and then cut it out! It suggested to cut it out with the fabric folded so you were cutting out 8 layers, but there was no way my scissors could do this accurately. I opened it out and drew out more of the pattern and cut it so that it was only double thickness. It was very fiddly to do, and I think on the next one I'd mark out the pattern but not actually cut it up at the start, but just snip away as I needed to.
 You can just about make out the difference in the fabrics. I really should have picked more contrasting fabrics! I did mean to, but Ellie loved the orange, and I don't suppose she will mind if it isn't the best design ever.
I imagine that there are going to be quite a lot of posts with bits of this quilt over the coming months, all looking rather similar. Here is a blue flower with some of the snowflake leaves sewn up.
And a chocolate brown and pink one...

And to finish, a green one. Now I've followed the instructions for the size of the backing fabric, and I've got to admit that I think it's a bit skimpy at this point. I should just be able to get on an edging, but I think it would have been better for another couple of inches. (22" square). So if any of you are doing quilts from Elizabeth Roots books I would be tempted to add a bit more on to what she advises.

For the eagle eyed readers out there, you may have noticed that I've put up a new page. For those of you who don't know me, you may be surprised to know that I adore reading and writing regency romances, so I thought I'd share my interest and put up the occasional extract, (mainly clothing related) for you to read here

Friday, 10 June 2011


Well, this has been a bit of a slow week sewing wise. I guess even elves have to have a break some times.

I opted for french seams on the skirt seams. You can see just how inclined to fray this material is. It also creases beyond belief. On the up side, it does iron well, but I think it is going to be shockingly creased when it comes out of the washing machine!

You can see it is slowly taking shape. This picture show the front bodice and the skirt. You can also see the pale grey lining behind. The gathers are in the centre back. I need to move the front bust gathers as having tried it on, I'm not entirely sure they aren't too close to the arm hole. 
 I had to spend quite some time matchng the front pattern. I've got to admit this fabric is a bit bold for me, but I think once it's all made up, it's going to look pretty stunning. I'm just working on an idea for the centre front fastening. I'd like to do a shaped edge, but I need to think it out first.
Here's the back with the gathered middle section. It's going to be a bit weird wearing a dress with gathers here. At least I shan't have to worry whether my bum looks big. I'll KNOW it looks big!
I was trying to show a picture of the bodice pattern I've drafted here, but Ellie kept deciding that the off cuts of material should really be in the shot!
One sleeve attached. I did mean to do puffed sleeves, but I'm afraid I chickened out. It's been a while since I've worn dresses, especially ones like this, and I don't want it to look like a costume. I know a lot of people like making costumes but I'm going to be wearing this down my local co-op, so it needs to be functional, and I need to feel confident. I'll work up to the puffed sleeves on a later dress I think...
Here's a shot of the back. I haven't quite finished the neckline hence the wrinkles. I like how low it swoops down, and the shape of the curve.
So, all in all, it's progressing, slow but sure. I wish it were done as the weather has been just lovely for a wearing a dress like this. Perhaps next week I'll be floating down in swishy material as I go to the library with the pram...

On other notes. I think I've worked out how to upload a file, so I shall be on the case of scanning in patterns. Just watch this space! I want to do a tutorial with it as well, so it will have to wait until I've got a bit more material. 

I ordered some material yesterday to make a small quilt each for Ellie and Nancy. 

This is the basic pattern, but I decided to do it a bit mental colour wise, so it won’t be nearly so clear cut as this example is. as background for Nancy’s quilt as background for Ellie’s quilt (Then the reverse on the back of each of their quilts) I got small pieces of all of these, so each flower will be a different colour.

I'm really looking forward to starting these, although I think they'll be a while in the making.... Right off to do the dishes  ;o(

Friday, 3 June 2011

Anyone interested in a free pattern?

I'm not going to talk about elves today, as I want to ask you all a question?
If I were to scan in my dungaree pattern would anyone be interested in a free copy? I'm not entirely sure I how I do this, but if my IT skills fail, I could always just email people a copy.
I currently only have 6 months and 2-3 years drafted out, but I will be doing bigger sizes as my little girls grow.

The elves and I have been busy this week making another pair of dungarees, this time for Ellie who has been looking at Nancy's pair with an envious eye.
I've made these out of a retro orange quilting fabric. Orange is Ellie's favourite colour at the minute. My sewing machine has a lot of lovely embroidery stitches, so I've taken advantage and used a matching one along the bib front edge. It would stand out better on a plainer fabric, but I still think it looks pretty.
Here is a picture of the front of the dungarees with the main seams all sewn.

 Here is the facing being attached. I've just turned a hem in here to prevent fraying edges. Likewise for the bottom leg edge.

Finally there are the button holes, and then I like sewing along the edge where the facing is to help keep it all in place. I picked purple buttons for the straps. Mainly because I don't have any orange, and couldn't find the white ones. I got a job lot of these fisheye buttons two years ago and I am still working my way through them!
Here they are all done. I'm afraid I don't seem to be able to manage the arty shots that everyone else gets of their children posing. Ellie is just watching the television, hence the blank look!

Right next is some sewing for me!!!!! I'm making a regency inspired dress, so empire line, a gathered section in the back, and no darts etc in the skirt front.

So far I've made up the lining, which is pretty boring looking ( a pale dove grey) and the bodice top. It's made from a cotton voile (Anna Maria Horner. I am so impressed with this fabric. The handle is really lovely.) I've put a small bust dart under the arms, and then gathered the edge under the bust. The front is going to be button fastening, but I've just pinned it together for now. Sorry I'm not smiling in the left shot, but I was a bit confused about the self timer on the camera!

Now I had meant to get the skirt cut out yesterday, but Ellie decided that the material would make a much better bed for her dolly. If you look carefully on the left hand picture you can see that there is a little dolly face which she was just kissing goodnight. Next she decided that she would look good as a ghost in it.
You can see it is going to have a contrasting skirt though. The fabric is called 'slow dance in heather'. How sumptious does that sound. I've been debating on which way to cut it, but have decided to have the feather lines you can see running down the front of the dress. Anyway that's it for now. I just thought I'd share a couple of photos showing that Elle is still enjoying her coat. (Or at least she was before all this hot weather hit!)

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Nancy's dungarees (missing elf returns...)

Anna bit into a butterscotch cookie, and the taste of toffee and vanilla filled her mouth. She allowed herself a small moan of pleasure before placing the biscuit down and wiping her hands carefully on a tissue.
      "So you got the coat finished all right without me?"

    "Yeah. No problems," she heard Ned saying from beneath the table. "I wondered where you were. Something come up?"
    She wished that she could see his face. Had he missed her? Her shoulders slumped; he sounded as if he was only asking out of politeness. She arranged the edges of the front legs of the dungarees under the sewing machine.

      "Ready, go...." The machine whirred  into action, the needle dipping in and out of the fabric, the point flashing under the spotlight. "Nothing exciting, just Timmy had chicken pox." It hadn't been an easy week. Timmy was never an easy elf to watch without being covered in itchy spots. She guided the cloth under the machine foot, calling out instructions to Ned when needed.
Finishing the front, she moved on to the back seams. First the centre seam, then attaching the yoke. She rubbed her tired eyes, and gave a yawn. "It doesn't feel like I've slept all week."
     "Couldn't someone else look after him?" called Ned. Anna frowned. Just like a man, she thought. Timmy was her responsibility. With her parents no longer with them, her brothers needed her more than ever. She looked at the front of the dungarees and decided something more was needed.
Together they sewed the shoulder straps, lining them with the same fabric before turning them inside out.
Finally she sewed around the edge, securing the facing in place.
 She watched Edward sew the tiny purple buttons in place, his eyes intent on his work. His hand sewing was always neat, and he worked so quickly, as if it came as naturally to him as breathing. She wondered how long he'd been sewing for. Really, considering she'd seen him nearly every week for the last few months, she knew very little about him.

Friday, 20 May 2011

One elf down...

Ned, the elf, let a heavy sigh and wondered where Anna had gotten to. This was the second night he'd had to work alone. He quickly ran a basting stitch along the hem of the coat, gathering the fullness in. His needle flashed as he worked across the material.
Had she found someone else? Another place to work. He jumped as the needle caught his finger, and he moved sharply not wanting to drip blood on to the facing, neatly finished with a cross stitch to prevent fraying.

Not that he really needed her at the minute. The only things left to do on the coat were hand sewing, and even if he couldn't handle the scissors by himself, he was more than capable of nibbling through the thread when needed. He tacked the lining in place, ensuring that there was at least a centimetre of slack in the lining. It was just that he'd gotten used to her. He'd was used to the way she shouted out instructions from the table as she skillfully guided the fabric through the machine.
 True she usually sounded as if she thought he was complete idiot, but she was HIS idiot. With his heart not in it, he hand sewed the sleeves in place. He liked the way Mrs W had used the outer fabric for the inside lining. It made it easy to spot where the armhole was.
What if she were ill? His blue skin paled at the thought, and his hand shook as he sewed the button hole. He forced himself to concentrate. Mrs W deserved better than a wonky button hole.

He took a mouthful of cake, and was slightly startled to find that the inside was pink, but he chewed on nevertheless. Anna would have loved this cake. Pink cake with white chocolate drops. It was positively oozing with thick icing still glistening as he bit into it. There were even mininature marshmallows on top. Absentmindedly he picked of the marshmallows to save for later. It wasn't very masculine but he adored hot chocolate with marshmallows on top. Sometimes if the cats were sleeping, he even heated some milk on the stove here, and made Anna one. His shoulders slumped as his thoughts circled back to Anna. Would she be back tomorrow?