Cosmic Lulu has landed!

cosmic luluSOooooo…. remember how I reported a while back that my trusty ancient Singer, Auntie Janis, was really beginning to feel her age?  – People, I bought myself a NEW SEWING MACHINE!!!  Say hello to the Viking Husqvarna E20, my new best friend!  She can do overlocking!  She has a range of stretch stitches!  She even has a built-in needle threader!  And yes OK I know, these things come as standard on today’s basic machines, but for me even being able to turn the stitch length adjuster and have something happen is a revelation!  And I thought ‘tension’ was just something you felt when you were top-stitching a neckline and your thread snapped for the third time…

I wanted a sewing machine that would be funky and versatile and just keep on going.  After much research, I opted for the Viking over a Singer and so far she’s been awesome, so I have named her in honour of Komet Lulu, the uber-cool bass player with Electric Moon!  I have it on good authority from a friend who’s seen them live that Lulu can throw out a mind-altering bass line with one hand whilst rolling an herbal cigarette with the other: ‘Nuff said.

I’ve been making patchwork!  And applique! And yes that is another Lady Skater dress you can see in the background!  All to soon be revealed, once BT fix my bloomin’ internet connection…

Wishing you a very cosmic week! 🙂

Whoo-Hoo! Retrotastic Skater Dress!

imainshotYay, I MADE A DRESS!!  Not only that, I made a dress that fits and that I LOVE! This, my friends, is my very first attempt at the Lady Skater dress (by KitschyCoo patterns).  I’m sure this pattern needs no introduction as folk everywhere on the blogosphere have made it, raved about it, and rated it one of the easiest sews there is.

I’ve been wanting to have a go at this pattern for ages, especially after reading so many reports of how simple it is to fit, with no FBA needed!  My original idea was to use this fabulous 70s-inspired jersey to make a ‘wearable muslin’ version, as it was such a bargain price (ordered online from The Textile Centre) that I could live with it turning out a disaster.  funkyfabricBut when it arrived it was so soft and drapey and so very funky, that I knew I had to give it my best shot!  So I cut up a pair of old pyjama bottoms and a holey T-shirt, and made a muslin of just the bodice with cap sleeves and about 3″ of skirt.  You want to see it, don’t you??skatermuslinYes, I really did walk around my house in this…

I graded the pattern from a size 6 in the upper bodice out to an 8 at the waist.  Even at this stage, I could tell that the fit was good.  And the rumours were true – no FBA!  As you can see from the muslin, what I did do was to shorten the bodice by 2″.  I also did a sway back adjustment of 1″, following the brilliant instructions provided on the KitschyCoo website.  Honestly, this is the clearest explanation of how to do this adjustment I’ve ever found, and it turns out it’s really simple.  An inch may not sound like much, but this one really makes a difference.  How nice to have an even hemline for once!isideshotThe waistline still ended up a little wonky, but this may be to do with a certain Sewing Issue I had.  The pattern calls for clear elastic here to stablise the seam: Auntie Janis, however (my ancient Singer sewing machine), refused to co-operate with this.  Already unhappy about being forced to sew a fabric she was not designed for, the elastic got ripped out twice before I gave up and sewed it in by hand instead.  It didn’t really work so well, and it feels a bit weird on the inside, but luckily looks OK on the outside.  Speaking of outside…skirtyshotSo the only major alteration I did was to re-draft the neckline.  I do find the necklines on many patterns are just too plunging for me; showing off that little bow in the middle of your bra is never my idea of a Good Look.  I suspect I ought really to take a bit out of the upper bodice above the high bust line, but then you have to start messing about with armscye adjustments and y’know, I’m just TOO LAZY…  Besides, I liked the fit on the bodice.  So I just raised the neckline front and back, taking 4½” out of both all round (and the same out of the neckband), and I’m very pleased with the way it’s turned out.cardiflashshotIn fact, I’m TOTALLY CHUFFED with the way the whole dress has turned out!  Ooh, this is a comfy, funky, incredibly wearable dress!  I particularly love the sleeves, with their little cuffs…isleeveand the swishy skirt!iskirtshotprint matching? – That’s for Proper Dressmakers!

This dress has definitely given my sewing confidence a much-needed boost after my Year of Total Sewing Fail.  I can see myself making this pattern up again and again.  In fact I’ve already ordered some purple ponte to make a second one!  (But shhh, don’t tell Auntie J….nothing to see here…)idonttellAJWishing you all a funky retrotastic week! 🙂

Stirring from Hibernation

helleboresWell Helloooo!!  What’s that you say, winter’s nearly over??  Time to wake up?!  Hang on let me just rub the sleep out of my eyes…

Ah yes, it has been a while, hasn’t it?  But I wasn’t asleep for the entire winter, I promise.  I may have spent most of my evenings cosying up on the sofa during Nov/Dec/Jan, but I was crocheting like a Demon while I was there!  The Boho Blaket is my take on the Attic 24 Cosy Stripe.  I started it back in November and it’s now actually finished, stripe-wise.  But I was inspired by Kathryn of Crafternoon Treat’s version and decided I want to add a granny square border, so there’s still some way to go before I do a full ‘WhooHoo’ post on that one!blanket&squaresI had a day out back in January, visiting the lovely town of Bishop’s Castle in Shropshire.  The main highlight was the Aladdin’s cave of yarny goodness that is Sheepish, where I splashed out on some very funky sock yarn.  sockyarnNow, I haven’t knitted socks for over 20 years, when me and my fellow hippies used to knit with multiple strands of DK on chunky needles to keept our feet from freezing in our trucks and busses in the winter!  But having read Lucy’s blog post on the subject, I decided to have a go with this modern new sock yarn and Winwick Mum’s pattern.  And yay, look!  Socks!  Well, OK: Sock.  And a bit.  I guess this is just a Whoo, for now.  Yes I know it looks a bit stumpy, ‘cos I have very small feet – I made the right length but it’s a bit baggy around the foot to be honest.  But not bad for a first go, I reckon.onesockAnd then suddenly it was February, and the rain stopped, and I felt the urge to be sewing again.  A while back, Béa’s Sewing Adventures posted about 2015 being her year of ‘Total Sewing Fail’ and I commented that it had been pretty much the same for me.  I could write a whole other post about why, but one reason was that I’ve not sorted out a proper sewing space since moving to this house.  So the first thing I needed was a decent table.  And then my lovely friend Jas (she of the amazing Vintage Pattern collection) gave me the most brilliant table, that was sitting up in her loft!  It’s sturdy and HUGE (in this pic only one of the extensions is pulled out!), so I’ve basically just cleared the front of my living room for it and decided that this is now my sewing space.  I’ve got some shelves to go up on the wall to the right, and I think you’ll agree that with maximum light from the bay window it’s a pretty good set up.sewingspaceFeb16bAnd yes, I HAVE been sewing!  Cutting out is SO easy!  In fact I’ve almost finished making something, more soon, but here’s a sneak peek.  Oh wow, just LOOK at that retro-tastic fabric…skirtcuttingSo it looks like hibernation is over, and various winter projects are nearly finished.  Good thing too ‘cos the garden is going to need some serious work very soon!

Wishing you all a bright happy week 🙂

Colourful plans & projects

NewHQWell HELLO and greetings from my new HQ!  Pretty smart huh?!  Despite it still being box-maze chaos, I’m happy to report that I LOVE my new place.  Especially the big bay window, letting lots of lovely light into my front room and makeshift sewing space!

Last weekend I unearthed the Simplicity dress project (abandoned the week before the move!) and eased myself back in gently by making some bias binding for the sleeves.  One day, there will be a Whoo-Hoo moment, but not before I cross the Great Plateau of The Invisible Zip.  See you on the other side…Grey&Pink Sleeve BindingMeanwhile, I’ve made a start on a second ripple blanket.  This one is for my mum, who wanted a single bed size in shades of blue.  I’ve gone for the Stylecraft Special DK as before, and although the blues are totally gorgeous, I couldn’t resist slipping in a little bit of purple (it’s called ‘Bluebell’ though, so it’s within the remit, right?).  After making my huge, double-bed sized Purple Waves blanket, these rows feel quite quick to work!BlueWavesBlanketSo there’s some colourful crafty projects going on, but I’m also planning to create something much bigger, and much more colourful, starting this year… can you guess what it is?!gardenflowersYep, I finally have MY OWN GARDEN!  For the first time in many, many years I have my own outdoor space to fill with flowers, veg, herbs and all kinds of strange and beautiful things.  I can’t WAIT to get started!  Which is all to the good, because this is what it looks like right now:GardenTodayNever let it be said that I don’t relish a challenge!  I’ll keep you posted on my progress, but if my sewing speed is anything to go by, you know this one’s going to keep me busy for a VERY long time…

How are you getting on with your spring plans & projects I wonder?  – Here’s wishing you all a very colourful, creative week! 🙂

A Journey through January

TanyYCoedSnowAfter all the fun and good times of Xmas and New Year, January has been COLD and wet and dark and did I mention COLD, and the month I find the very hardest to get through!  It’s been a bit different this year though, for exciting reasons which I’ll share with you in a minute.  But first here’s some of the things that cheered my days during this dreary month…

…a beautiful bright full moon rising over the Dyfi Vally early in the month, taken from the woods near my houseDyfiValleyMoonrise…the successful completeion of the Blue Sheet muslin, enabling me to get cracking on my first Stashbusting Sewalong dress!  Auntie Janis & I are particularly pleased with the pockets…Sheet3…a magical snowy walk in my favourite woodland, with views of the Cambrians in the distance.  Armed with my trusty flask, of course!…TanYCoedSnowPicnic2…my gorgeous Purple Waves blanket has kept me company all month and is almost done.  Just one more round of edging to do and there will be a big WhooHoo!…blanketborder

…and here is the armchair where I’ve sat crocheting for quite a lot of this month, opposite the blazing fire or enjoying a rare bit of winter sunshine…ColourfulChair

…HOWEVER, my fireside armchair, and everything else, will shortly be getting packed up because in a couple of weeks I will be leaving the Lovey Dovey valley and moving house!  I’ve been planning to move for a while, and unexpectedly found the perfect place whilst visiting friends back home in Radnorshire over the hols.  So it might be a bit quiet here on the blog for a couple of weeks whilst I get relocated (and wait for BT to connect my phone & internet!), but rest assured, I will be BACK with plenty of colourful crafts very soon!

Thank you so much for reading, wishing you a wonderful week and a VERY Funky February 🙂

Stashbusting Sewalong 2015 – I’m in!

Stashbusting Sewalong Challenge Button 2015.pngOkay, I KNOW I said I wouldn’t be making any New Year’s resolutions or anything like that, but when I read about EmSewCrazy’s Stashbusting Sewalong on Béa’s blog this week, I couldn’t resist!  I’m as much of a fabric junkie as the next girl, despite my meagre budget and attempts to keep my hoarding under control.  So this is the PERFECT challenge for me!

Given how spectacularly I failed to rise to the Vintage Sewing Pattern Pledge last year (I sewed NO vintage patterns and ONE vintage fabric), I’m wary of setting my bar too high this time.  I’d really like to actually complete this challenge: not only to ‘clear the decks’ of fabrics that I’ve had for ages, but also because I do pretty much LOVE all the fabrics in my stash and would be so happy to be wearing them instead of sighing over them!

So, here’s my pledge: “I, Sarah Star, commit to using at least 5 fabrics from my stash for dressmaking projects in 2015, and I also commit to not buying any new fabrics until I’ve completed at least 2 projects”  

Anyone else joining in? – Would love to hear your plans! 🙂

WhooHoo! Summer Sunshine Bag

sunnybag1As mentioned in the November round-up last week, I finally finished the Summer Sunshine bag!  I started crocheting this waaaay back during my June glamping trip to the Usk Valley, and it languished on the ‘Project: Stalled‘ shelf for quite some time.  Conversations with other crafters (stand up, P. and Mum!) tell me that sewing everything together at the end is often the HARDEST part of any project so at least I know I’m not alone! 🙂sunnybag3

This is my second bag based on Lucy’s original Attic24 bag pattern, and I love the way it’s turned out.  These bags are easy to crochet, good and sturdy and they hold MASSES of stuff!  As before I made a lining for both the bag and the handles, and I’m particularly proud of my improved handle-attaching technique.  Here’s the first one I ever did:sewstraptobag

and here are my latest ones:sunnybaginnerquite a difference, I think you’ll agree!  Also very chuffed with my double-petalled flowers, making these is just so much fun.  I resisted the urge to smother the entire bag with them:sunnybagflowers1

I have one more of these bags to finish, and I really really will try to take some photos of how to make the linings so I can share a tutorial on that with you sometime soon.

And if you’re thinking that this bag is NEON bright, all I can say is that IT’S EVEN BRIGHTER in real life!!  See, I knew when I picked up that piece of pumpkin-orange fabric in the charity shop years ago that I’d find the perfect use for it one day…sunnybag2

Wishing you all a very bright and colourful weekend!

WhooHoo! Border print tunic

fulllength1So, I think you can tell from my facial expression here, how very chuffed I am with the way this make came out!  Only finished it last week and have worn it TWICE already during my recent trip down to Radnorshire.  Here I am posing outside my lovely friend Jas’s gorgeous house!backshotStill making changes to this pattern, that began life as NewLook 6086; because I was working with a border print I cut it straight along the bottom instead of slightly curved as in the original, and I think it actually works better that way.  Not enough fabric to print-match unfortunately but I still love it!  And speaking of not enough fabric… those sleeves in full:sleeveywonder

I actually re-drafted the whole sleeve for this pattern as I’d changed the armscye so much that the original no longer fitted.  I wanted shorter sleeves for this than the blue batik version, and I also tapered them slightly to get around the fabric shortage.  There wasn’t enough fabric to cut them with borders at the bottom, and in fact not even enough border left to make a cuff for each sleeve.  ARGH!!  Much measuring and mathematics followed til I worked out I could cut the border in half and make two matching cuffs of half-bottom, half-top!  Yep, I’m pretty pleased with this solution – if anyone asks, I’m telling them it’s a design feature!fullwithrosesSo that’s it, a happy summer top in a nice cool poly/cotton/something mix, perfect for long drives and evenings spent rummaging through friends’ vintage pattern stashes…. Aha, but THAT’S another post!

Wishing you all a very lovely week!  🙂