Getting Shirty

I’ll tell you a secret now – I H.A.T.E. shopping for clothes.  I cannot even tell you how much.  Partly it’s because I’m rather podgy at the moment, and partly it’s because I’m quite tall (almost 6′) and the combination of those two factors makes finding off-the-peg clothes a total pain.  One of these problems I can (and plan to) do something about, but my height is never going to go away!  So when I was faced with my cousin’s wedding in July, I was completely stumped by that hateful “What to wear?” question.  I looked around a bit, but as so often happens, I was completely uninspired by anything I saw locally or online.  Frustrated, it suddenly occurred to me that I really ought to consider actually making myself something to wear.  I’m not a very keen dressmaker, but I have done a little dressmaking in the dim and distant past and needs must when the devil drives and you have simply nothing to wear!  Accordingly, a few weeks before the Big Day I found a site selling a variety of patterns and went “shopping” with the aid of my mother-in-law.  After much umm-ing and ahh-ing, I picked out two dress patterns and one shirt pattern that I thought would suit me, figuring that I should have time to make at least one of them.  I also dug out the Liberty prints I bought not long ago and made the happy discovery that I had enough of my two favourites to be able to make two of the shirt pattern!  That really decided the matter for me (the only extras I needed to buy were a couple of metres of ribbon), so I set to cutting out and running up Version 1.0 in the white and blue print.

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(Uhmmm, yeah, I really wasn’t kidding about the podgy part!)  This version came out ok, once I wrangled the ruffly front bit into submission, but I hadn’t really adjusted the pattern to better fit my shape, so I ended up having to really re-work the back seams quite heavily to make the shirt fit more closely.  It did work, but with room for improvement.  The ribbon tie round the back is not part of the original pattern, I added it in to help give the top better shape and to balance the ribbon on the front.  This version is wearable, but I knew it could be better.

The second version is much better in all respects:

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Armed with my experiences from the first one, I adjusted the paper pattern to give a much better fit, I didn’t have to re-do the ruffles several times over before I got them right, and the whole thing went together a lot faster too.  You still won’t see me on the Great British Sewing Bee any time soon, but this has reminded me why it’s handy to be able to make clothes now and again.  I still have the two dress patterns waiting in the wings, so there might be more clothing experimentation in the near future – especially since I’ve seen some really pretty fabric in Aberdashery that I suspect might really suit one of the patterns.  🙂  A benefit that I really noticed from becoming a quilter is that I am now a much more accurate sewist generally, with a much better appreciation of seam allowances and how they work.  It sounds daft, but I didn’t really fully understand the 5/8″ seam allowance for clothing when I made clothes in the past.  But now I do, and I have a sewing machine that really helps me with things like that, and as a result I made clothes that I feel much happier about.  So that’s a very positive thing.

If you’re curious, I wore the blue/white shirt for the pre-wedding evening party and the blue/orange one for the actual wedding.  The fabric, being very delicious Liberty lawn, is so lovely to wear that I think both shirts will see outings in future, especially on hot summer days, and that’s more than I can say about many wedding outfits!  😉  Also, I still have plenty of scraps left over for a bit of Liberty patchwork if the mood takes me.  Yay!

Give me Liberty!

…Or give me some other patchwork fabric.  That works too.  Yeah, I wonder how many times that pun’s been used?  Oh well!  :p  I seem to be failing hopelessly at not buying fabric right now, although at least a smidgen of it is for a commission.  I’m not sure if that makes it better or not!  A big contributor to my stash was the Sewing For Pleasure show at the Birmingham NEC a few weeks ago.  11 fat quarters for £15?  Yes.  HELL yes.  Please.  I may have gone a bit nuts at that stand!  Then there have been some more local purchases as well, including some lovely stripey shot cottons and some completely unexpected Liberty prints.

Sewing For Pleasure Purchases

The first stand to really suck me in and get me reaching for my wallet was Japan Crafts.  Anyone who reads this blog regularly will know that I’m rather partial to Japanese-related fabrics and crafts, so their selection of shiny fabrics initially drew me in.  However, it was the sashiko supplies that really hooked me.  Sashiko is something I have wanted to try for a while, and here was a stand selling nice bundles of everything needed to have a go!  And a flexible attitude to mixing and matching supplies helped, too.  I ended up walking away with two small and one large panel of pre-preprinted sashiko designs, plus a generously sized skein of sashiko thread.

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I have a feeling my bundle was supposed to include needles too, but either I dropped them somewhere at the show or they got forgotten in the purchase kerfuffle, so I had to order some more, which was a bit annoying.  🙁  Still, I’m pleased with the designs and looking forward to maybe sitting in the sun and doing some hand-sewing!

As mentioned, I found a stand doing a very good (by UK standards, anyway!) offer on fat quarters.  I did not hold back!

Many of these were bought with a quilt already in mind, so I don’t feel too bad about them finding their way into the house.  🙂  And I picked up plenty of yellows after discovering that it’s a really under-represented colour in my stash.

I also bought a few fabrics from other stands as well:

The Marvel superhero fabric will hopefully be the backing for a quilt for my cousin’s first baby, due in May.  Also, I clearly cannot stay away from Moda’s Modern Backgrounds – I couldn’t pass up getting a couple of half-meter chunks.  I’m just a sucker for equations on quilting fabric!  Then some random fat quarters – I really liked the leaves in two different colourways and I love a good blue.

That was about it for fabric purchases, the only(!) other things I bought were some thread and a(nother!) FMQ foot for the Pfaff – the dynamic 6D spring foot – after thoroughly quizzing the staff on the stand to make sure that it would work on the QE 4.2.

They agreed that it would be fine and indeed they were right; it’s the foot I used to quilt Poppy’s Flower Garden and it seemed to work well, even though I threw silly things like fleece at it.  On the right are some #8 pearl cottons, which I’ve wanted to play with for a while, and which have already been pressed into service, a random grab-bag of shininess from Oliver Twists that I just couldn’t resist and that does potentially have a project to go with if I ever manage to start it, and some Aurifil that I picked out for my sister’s wedding quilt, which is finally basted and ready to go under the needle.

Local Finds

First up, the most important thing – fabric for my latest commission, bought from Calico Kate in Lampeter:

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The solid is Moda Bella in Royal Blue, and the prints are from Artisan Spirit’s Shimmer range, which I adore.  The brief was for a royal blue/emerald green bed quilt and the  design will be diamonds, which will hopefully look like they’re floating against the solid royal blue.  It was a bit tricky to sort out designs and fabric choices with the client because she doesn’t live near me and she has no internet access, so I had to take photos and send them to a family member to show to her!  But these are the prints she particularly earmarked and they go beautifully together.  I wanted to try and get more green into the top in the sashing between the diamonds or by adding another print, but unfortunately every green we tried fought hard against the other fabrics.  However, the Artisan Spirit range also has extra-wide fabric in a really great emerald green that I’ll put on the back, and I may bind it with green, too.

While hunting down the above, these somehow fell into my basket and followed me home:

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Shot cottons!  I think these are from Rowan, although I’m not 100% sure.  I have two FQs each of the red/green, blue/orange, pink/silver and blue/gold, and just one each of the blue/silver and light blue.  I’d like to find a project that will really show off the stripey-ness and shimmer of these fabrics, they’re very lush.  Fortunately, they also go really well with a bundle of “plain” shot cottons I bought a little while ago, so I’ll probably combine them to make a decent-sized quilt.  I think shot cottons are becoming my answer to the fact that I like the concept of a quilt with solids but the range of solids actually available to me (without having to order online) is horribly limited.

Lastly, I mentioned Liberty, didn’t I?  And I haven’t shown off any Liberty yet, have I?  Well now!  Look what I found hiding out at Wheeler Fabrics in Machynlleth!

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They’re got a small collection of luvverly Liberty prints in at the moment for a great price, mostly on the bolt but some as fat quarters.  I’m afraid I have no idea what any of the prints are called, I just picked out the ones that really “spoke” to me.  I love the sketchy look of this print and when I realised I was cherry-picking FQs of it out of the box, I figured it would make much more sense to just buy a big bit, so this ready-cut bit is ~1.5m.

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So is this bit.  With so many colours, it goes with lots of other prints really well.  I’m sure I’ve seen it before online somewhere and I loved it, I just didn’t expect to find any practically on my doorstep!

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I thought this print was a batik at first, it’s got that kind of organic look that demands a second glance.  It’s rather darker IRL, but at least this picture shows the print on it.  I bought half a meter.

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Same print, different colourways.  Half a meter of each.

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And likewise here!  A half-meter each of these.  I love the bright version of this print, but there wasn’t much else among the bolts that teamed up well with it, other than the pixelly effort above.  Still, it demanded to come home with me!

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And these are three random fat quarters that just caught my eye.  (Well, that purple would catch anyone’s eye, lol!)  No real plans for these yet.  I know they don’t go together, or with the other prints.  That’s fine, they’re not expected to.  🙂

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Finally there’s this.  I didn’t buy this bit!  I found it loitering in a pile in my hopelessly chaotic craft room, so I suspect it’s from mum’s fabric stash.  It looks sorta-kinda a bit like a Liberty print but there’s no way to tell.  It has a similar feel and weight to the Liberty prints I just bought and I think I can persuade it to get along with that punchy floral print, so they may end up in a project together.  🙂

So, that’s my recent haul, give or take a bit.  And now I really ought to get back to work so I can justify all this wicked spending I’ve been doing!  *pulls self away from the Liberty Craft Blog*

And I’ll link up with Sunday Monday Stash over with Molli Sparkles, just ‘cos I can.  😉