A Pair of Pennies 

A couple of months ago I joined the Sew Over It PDF club, even though I typically prefer buying printed patterns. When the Penny Dress was released I knew I wanted to make one. Once I’d printed and assembled the pattern I realised I needed wide fabric, which restricted what I could use from my stash, but I found some summery pink checked cotton that I’d had a while with no particular project in mind. I can’t remember where I got it but I know it would have been inexpensive. As the Penny only calls for three buttons I had plenty to choose from, and settled on some which came free with an issue of Molly Makes. 

I cut the size 12 as the fit looked fairly relaxed. As I was making it I came across a couple of people online who were having difficulties with the collar, both of whom I consider to be much more adept and experienced. My collar went ok until it came to joining it to the interfaced button placket, as when I turned the bit under the collar (the lapel?) the right way out, the corner curled in. I trimmed my seams and wasn’t otherwise sure how to resolve it, so left it. It isn’t too noticeable but did mean I wasn’t able to topstitch the two front sections. I left the dress to hang for a couple of days before hemming, although I think it’s just a single fold hem, and as this fabric is quite prone to fraying may need a second fold at some point. 

This dress is comfortable to wear, and although I initially considered shortening it to knee length, I think the midi length is right for the vintage style. I just borrowed this beautiful front door for a quick photo mid dog walk. 

I didn’t make any fitting adjustments to the second of my pair of Pennies, and this time used some crepe/viscose type fabric bought online from The Textile Centre. I love all things bird related so at £4pm this fabric was an obvious choice. I had some dark wooden buttons which seemed to match nicely.Although I didn’t do anything differently, for some reason I didn’t have the collar curling on this dress and so was able to topstitch as directed. Again I left the dress to hang before hemming – for a couple of w weeks for no particular reason. The only thing with this fabric is that because it’s a directional print, I have birds facing every direction at some point in the skirt. I think I could have reduced this by adding an extra seam – the skirt only has one – but I just tried to make sure that the birds right at the front were upright.These photos were taken at a pretty little National Trust property called Acorn Bank. Believe it or not we managed to fit them in between two heavy downpours, even though the sun shone so beautifully for just long enough for the dogs and I to pose. 

I like both of my Pennies, though the bird one is my favourite. I think they will both get some autumn wear, with the colours of the bird fabric making that one particularly appropriate for the new season. 

Both of these dresses were complimented by complete strangers on their first time of wearing. The checked dress was commented on by a lady cycling past, who called out “Beautiful dress!” and, as I held open a door whilst wearing the bird dress, another lady thanked me and then said my dress was stunning. I told her I had made it and she said she loved birds, and she was a vet who cared for them, how interesting does that sound? 

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Sunday Sevens // 11 2015

A late one this week, as I was determined to have done some sewing prior to publishing! Sunday sevens is a week encapsulated in seven images, so here goes mine. For a full low-down stop by at Nat’s blog

1. I drank some of this for the first time since I was in Berlin for my friend’s hen weekend, back in 2007? Not *quite* the same without the pickled herring.

2. A great Skype Classroom session. My class got to talk to a keeper at a Wild Futures Monkey Sanctuary, our class charity this year.

3. I sorted out my jewellery and found some (a fair bit!) which I no longer want/need. 

4. A lovely surprise package from my Nan. 

5. Cooked myself a yummy Saturday breakfast. The rocket worked surprisingly well. 

6. Oliver’s favourite place to keep watch is through the bannisters…

7. I began to emerge from a sewing-free period. Made this pretty, silky top (Simplicity 6035) PLUS another See Kate Sew Zippy Top on Sunday afternoon.

This next week is the final full week of Spring Term, and it promises to be busier than ever. I look forward to updating you with the events this time next week. Until then, enjoy the spring sunshine. 

Branching into Outerwear

cynthia

For a change, and following on from a reasonably successful last make, I decided to try something different: a jacket. I am not sure why I strayed from my usual diet of cotton dresses, but I did. I chose a jacket from a Cynthia Rowley pattern that came free with a magazine, and two fabrics from my stash.

The red wool was purchased from the Knitting and Stitching Show back in November, with the selvedge reading Noblet of England. This didn’t mean a lot to me but I liked the feel and colour. I think I bought the last two metres on the roll for £20.

This make came together quickly, and I really liked how the design meant that there were no exposed seams or raw edges; it has a neat and surprisingly professional finish. There are no fastenings, although I could have added a couple of hooks and eyes if I wanted. The jacket is cropped and a different style from what I would normally wear, but it fits nicely and is comfortable. I’ve already worn it a few times to work and elsewhere. My only confession is that despite having purchased matching bias tape to finish the joins between the sleeves and jacket, I have yet to (hand) sew it on. I enjoyed the process and final product so much that I have already cut out and pinned my next jacket project.

Two Maya/Zippies and an extra Zippy for good measure

I’m still relatively inexperienced in the world of sewing and pattern selection, but two that I have purchased, both as digital downloads, are the Maya dress and the Zippy top. I love the Maya because of it’s simplicity and flexibility, and the Zippy because it fits well and enables me to practise my finishing techniques.

So after one Maya with a wobbly neckline (which I probably could and should remedy, because it would make me love it all the more) and a couple of fairly successful Zippies, I decided to combine the two: the sleeves and dress length of the Maya with the neckline and facings of the Zippy.

I was surprised at how straightforward it was to merge two patterns, though perhaps this was because they are quite similar and not too fitted anyway. I just drew around the Maya, stopping where the curve of the neckline began, then overlaid the Zippy. It did keep crossing my mind that the hack might have been unnecessary, and it could well have just been me that messed up first time, but when you know something works it seems sensible to recreate it. My first attempt was using some jersey from Ebay I’d ordered somewhat blindly, attracted by autumnal colours and large floral print. I French seamed the shoulders, which taught me to consider my finishing technique when using a bulkier fabric, however at £2.99 per metre I didn’t lament this too much, I opted to keep it simple and not add any detail or embellishments, so the dress came together quickly in just a couple of hours. I absolutely love how it turned out, I adore the colours of the print and am pleased with the overall finish.
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Next I was intent on using the beautiful Michael Miller that I had initially bought one metre of, then returned for a second. For a while I had had it in my head to add a contrast breast pocket, as I had put two low pockets on my first Maya which worked well but I felt they were barely visible in the same fabric as the rest of the make. Cutting out the pattern pieces was quick and straight forward, and I still have enough of the MM for a small project. I marked out, made and attached a pocket and even added a strip of lace detail that I planned to use as a trim along the hem of the dress.

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Ideally I endeavour not to try on my makes until they or finished or I absolutely have to, for instance to work out where a waistband needs to go, so the pocket stayed put at this point. I continued sewing , French seamed it together at the shoulders but then decided I wanted to add actual pockets, as I did here. However, I hadn’t added any tabs for attaching the pockets to, so after much contemplation, pinning, and realisation that French seamed sides were now out of the question, I added them anyway but tried to use minimal seam allowance. I think the generosity of these patterns helped in making this viable. I stitched the sides together, finished the hem and tried it on, only to find that the breast pocket looked awful, the thicker fabric I’d chosen and the placing of the pocket meant the rest of the dress was overlooked. I carefully but reluctantly unpicked and removed it, and was much happier with the final garment. The fabric makes it seem quite summery so I have yet to wear it.

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Lastly, to seal my Zippy devotion and because I remembered this fabric I bought earlier in the year at a bargain price, I quickly cut out and assembled yet another Zippy. At first I didn’t have the confidence to use anything with such a clear, straight nap as this, and I again wanted to refine my finishing and zip insertion. It came together quickly and I opted for pinking the inside edge of the facing rather than zigzag stitching, which I really like. The zip placement is better but not perfect (I cut the slit too low and had to insert a small extra piece to full the gap!) and though I think this fabric is pretty and timeless, I had to wear a neutral vest top underneath to make it work appropriate.

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This week and weekend have been consumed by marking with minimal opportunity to even contemplate making, but I did buy a couple of metres of dark blue and green tartan yesterday, with a possible pinafore dress in mind, plus I might have added a few metres of different jersey to my shopping basket tonight, oh and just one of faux fur to enable me to make the free See Kate Sew cropped jacket…

August and Everything After

At some point this week there was a change to my daily dog walks. Where there had been pavement, there is now a scattering, just one layer deep, so far, of crisp, pale amber leaves. It’s beginning to feel a lot like fall, or autumn for us Brits.
This week meant back to school and back to reality for me. Six weeks off then back down to earth with a bump, though a slightly cushioned bump, knowing I’ll soon be taking a group of children to France. Whilst not nearly resembling a holiday it will be a completely different way of spending time with children and immersing them totally in a different culture and country.
I spent the week intending to blog about new (school) year resolutions and the changing season, but quickly became immersed in my class, classroom, and several new term duties. A week in and my number one resolution is pretty much the same as always: organisation. Planning ahead and making the best use of time are crucial, especially if I want to balance my marking with making, which I very much do.
To this end, yesterday I decided to organise the dining room, which, as dining rarely takes place there, doubles as my sewing room. It’s bright and airy, and has the large table which I am free to cover with all things crafty. Over the summer I’d accumulated more fabric, accessories and tools so I spread everything across the table to decide where to begin. Fabric storage options are something I’m still investigating, and I’ve seen recommendations on using comic book sheets of card used effectively, with fabric wrapped around for neat and rigid storage. Yesterday my mum gave me a colourful woven bag she’d bought in Mexico, so I designated that as suitable for FQ’s and partially used metres and half metres.
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I sorted Christmas fabrics and vaguely put plains and patterns in order, but also kept some in the groups I had bought them in. For want of a better option, I put my complete metres and half metres back in an Ikea box which is suitable simply because of size.

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Finally, I got to my main motivation for re-organising: three stacking bird suitcases that I’d bought in North Yorkshire. Now, to my mind, every design or decorative object can be improved by adding one or more birds to it, so I could not resist treating myself to the suitcases. Inside them I have stored ribbon in one, general craft supplies in another and a group of items loosely categorised as fastenings; although I am hesitant to use them I have no qualms buying them.

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Now I’m good to go, and as long as I apply the same organisation to school, hopefully I’ll be able to complete both work and home tasks to a good standard and ahead of time. Wish me luck.

Instagram ccmercer

Such a stunning sunset 🌅 •
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#sunset #sky #football #training #tuesday #sky #clouds #redsky #harvest #harvestmoon #hurricaneophelia #pattern #streetlight #lamp #lighting #orange Woodland wonder •
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#october #sunday #mushrooms #toadstool #autumn #funghi #fungus #nature #optoutside #dogwalk #dailydogwalk #woodland Today I wore football boots for the first time. I watched a great match + am excited to soon be learning more about how to play and coach football. •
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#football #sport #sports #newboots #footballboots #footwear #autumn #optoutside #nike #playfootball #chestnuts #leaves #autumnleaves #fromwhereistand The view tonight on my walk home from work 😍
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#sky #clouds #autumn #autumnsky #autumndays #sunset #twilight #bluehour #daylightfading #commute #walk #walking #myview #nofilter #nofilterneeded The sky, tonight •
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#football #sport #sports #court #outdoors #optoutside #sky #clouds #bluesky #nightfall #twilight #bluehour #violet The landscape is changing and whilst the trees are still vibrant, many of the fields have been harvested and are looking drab. Looking at Wilfie's expression however, the surroundings don't detract from his enjoyment of the 10 mile run he just accompanied me on. He kept up perfectly and is now snoozing beside me. He's a good dog. •
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#dailydog #dogwalking #dailydogwalk #runnersofinstagram #running #runningwithdogs #farming #fields #harvest

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