Author Archives: Annabel Vita Admin

Joining the Brother 1034D club

Madeira in february

The week before last, I spent a lovely week in Madeira with one of my best friends (and bridesmaids). We didn’t really know what to expect (we booked our flights last minute so just went as far south as we could without spending a fortune.

It was gorgeous, but such a funny place. It feels like you’re in Portugal (and technically you are), but you’re actually off the coast of Africa.You can be lazing on the beach in the sun and then get in the car and 15 minutes later you’re up a mountain in the fog. The food was incredible (including lots of lovely Portuguese pastries and vino tinto!). It really is a wonderful place, and the people were so, so nice. (When we couldn’t find our hotel, a man hopped in his car and told us to follow him, then drove ten minutes across town to show us where it was!)

Anyway, when we got back, Mr V told me that he’d bought me my birthday present (my birthday is next month) and needed me to check out whether it was right because it was second-hand and if there was anything wrong with it he needed to send it back asap.

Brother 1034D AD limited edition1

That lovely sneak had paid attention when I was babbling about wanting an overlocker/serger and found out which one I wanted and there it was! Waiting for me! (If Mr V was down with his photo on the blog, this is where there would be a “Hey girl, I bought you that sewing gadget that I don’t understand because I really want another noisy machine in the flat.”)

(I wanted this one because I’d seen it lurking in the sewing rooms of some of my favourite stitchers, including Karen, Andrea, Tilly and the Colette studio. I normally research things like this death, but I figured those guys wouldn’t have bought it if it was a duff and I really really wanted a machine that lots of other people had so there would be lots of tutorials and YouTube videos on it, plus this Pattern Review thread was really reassuring.)

I was both incredibly excited and utterly terrified. This is a complicated machine with four threads and two knives. KNIVES!  Normally I’m a real stickler about waiting till my birthday to use my presents, even if I know what they are, but after putting this back in the box and leaving it for a day, I realised I was just making The Fear worse, so I got it out and having been playing with it ever since.

I LOVE IT. Yeah, I’m still scared of rethreading it, but I’m in touch with a local sewing tutor and will be on her introduction to overlockers class as soon as it runs again (spending some the money I’d been saving up to buy an overlocker!). (Or I might buy this Craftsy class with Andrea’s 50 per cent discount.)

Anyway. My exact overlocker (The 1034D AV Limited Edition, whatever that means!) came with three extra feet (yaaay!) but nothing to catch the trimmings and lint, so I popped it on this Ikea tray WHICH MATCHES THE COLOURS PERFECTLY (I’m a leeetle excited about it). (I’d also read that having it on a tray made it easier to move around without getting your hand tangled in the threads). (That tray doesn’t seem to be on Ikea’s website anymore, but this one would look cute too!)

I wanted a little box to keep things like the tweezers and lint brush in, so I went to my stash of empty boxes (everyone has one of those, right?), and found this fancy Prada box that I rescued from an optician’s recycling bin as I just knew one day I’d find the perfect use for it.

Brother 1034D AD limited edition5

PERFECT! The box fits perfectly in that little nook of the machine and then when I’m using it, I just take the lid off and use that to catch the crap and use the bottom to hold all the bits and pieces I need nearby. PERFECT! I must save empty boxes from the rubbish more often!

Brother 1034D AD limited edition6

Those hand sewing needles are for weaving in the serger ends.

You can see in those images above that I also stuck labels all over it to help me remember what’s what (and what order it needs to be threaded in). I saw this idea on Tilly’s blog and also in the Pattern Review thread and shamelessly copied it.

Brother 1034D AD limited edition2

I also wanted a little pouch for all the less everyday accessories that came with the machine, so I serged one. (Like how I threw that in there all casual? Really I was grinning a manic-happy-scared smile the whole time like a 10 year old who was allowed to get behind the wheel of a bus.)

Brother 1034D AD limited edition3Brother 1034D AD limited edition4

(I added the velcro on my other machine, and no I didn’t change my thread to match).

And then to round out this weird little recap of things I did with my overlocker during its first week, here are two dusters I made out of an old t-shirt. You can wear them on your hands. JAZZ HANDS!

Brother 1034D AD limited edition7

No but really. I’m a proper boring grown up now, I made my own dusters and was really excited about it.

 

Giveaway winner and some wedding bits

20130204-135529.jpg
Just a quick post today to belatedly let you know the winner of the vintage button giveaway is….drumroll please….Ainhoa!

20130204-135632.jpg

Congratulations Ainhoa! Send me an email with your address and I’ll get these buttons in the post ASAP…

Bonus picture from the jewellers this weekend when we were looking for wedding rings. Do you think this band looks ok with my engagement ring? I’d like to keep them both on one finger if possible…

20130204-135748.jpg

My dress has arrived and is now with the dressmaker for safekeeping and a few adjustments. I LOVE IT. I’ve ordered a veil, bought my shoes (they’re incredible) and the bridesmaids are on the hunt for mismatched dresses. The church, venue, caterer, band and cake are all booked. I’ve found a local florist but not booked them yet (we’re only ordering bouquet and boutonnieres and I will DIY the rest with our mums). We think we’ve settled on what we’re doing for the honeymoon and hope to book it all down tonight. If anything, I’m a little worried about how easy it’s all been! Makes me feel like we’re forgetting something….

Vintage button giveaway!

vintage glass buttons 2

As I mentioned earlier this week, I’ve been spoilt rotten lately, so I thought it was time to give a little something back with my very first giveaway. (This is 100 per cent funded by me, in case that wasn’t obvious.)

vintage glass buttons 1

Up for grabs is a lovely card of buttons, plus whatever surprises I can rustle up before I put it in the post.

These buttons are vintage 1940s Czech glass. They’re lovely and solid, yet also glassy. I think they’d look perfect on a chambray dress, like this:

 

But! If you’re not into making clothes, you could also whip up two button up pillows using this tutorial, or change the buttons on a ready-to-wear cardigan like this. Or just hoard them with your other crafting supplies!

vintage glass buttons 3

There’s 3/4 inches across and have shanks.

vintage glass buttons 4

And they could be all yours! All you have to do is leave a comment on this post before midnight (GMT) next Wednesday and I’ll select a winner at random. I’m happy to post internationally and I always make my parcels pretty.

Sewing presents!

This is waaaay overdue but I wanted to share with you some lovely things that came in the post lately (recently would be a lie, this post is long overdue!).

First up, waaay back in November, I woke up one morning to discover I was the winner of Megan Nielsen Patterns’ incredibly generous anniversary giveaway

So I spent a little while anxiously tracking my parcel’s progress across the globe (how awesome is DHL’s tracking?!)

DHL tracking

And then my glorious package arrived! So much lovely sewing goodness!! I can’t wait to get sewing my new patterns (I chose Darling Ranges and the Banksia top and I’m so excited!) I just still have some Christmas presents to sew before I can get back into dress making for meeeee.

Megan Neilsen giveaway

All of this loveliness all bundled up in an “I make fashion” tote! Thanks, Megan.

And that’s not all the sewing goodness I’ve received lately… Thanks to KraftyKat’s sewists secret Santa, I got this lovely bundle in the post just before Christmas. (Click here to see what I sent Karen from Did You Make That?.)

Sewists Secret Santa

The green fabric is just dreamy and so perfect for making a top from and I love everything else. Thank you so much Santa! If you’re reading this and don’t mind revealing who you are, leave me a comment!

Aaaaand, while I’m on the subject, here’s a peek at my sewing-related Christmas presents (and a gorgeous tin I plan to keep sewing stuff in)….

Sewing Christmas presents

I was spoilt rotten this year…. it was ridonkulous. You should have seen the non-sewing presents I got!

So, that’s a long overdue round up of some things I’ve got lately.

I’ve felt so spoilt lately that I’ve decided to do a tiny giveaway on the blog this week to return a little bit of the favour. So check back for that…

What was your favourite present this year? I’m torn between that lovely box, a dragonfly necklace from Mr V and a collapsible washing up bowl for camping (I’m a practical girl!). I’m also over the moon to finally have a pair of pinking shears courtesy of my aunt.

Lots of elephants and a giraffe

Happy new year, team! I hope everyone had a jolly Christmas and a spendid New Year. We had a lovely Christmas at Mr V’s parents’ house with the whole family and then we whipped down to Devon to welcome the new year with my friends.

Beach

We swam here on the 1st of January to wash the old year away! It was frrrrrreezing, unsurprisingly.

Anyway, I thought I’d just update with some Christmas sewing I did for the tiny nieces and for the homemade secret santa that we do at New Year.

First up, I made our toddler niece a dress with elephants on it.

Every little thing dress elephants

It’s the Every Little Thing Dress pattern from Schwin Designs, which I bought in their Black Friday sale.

Not going to lie, I pretty much hated sewing this dress. My sewing machine kept ripping thread, my gathering kept messing up, my iron got dirt on the white bit of dress… basically everything that could go wrong, did go wrong! (And most of the things that did go wrong, were my fault either that day or at some point in the past.) Eventually I called it a day, whapped some polka dot bias tape on it to cover some sins and accepted how wonky these elephants are on the back.

Every little thing elephant dress back

I was a bit aware that making clothes for babies and toddlers is more of a present for their parents than the kid themselves, so I wanted to make a simple softie to match the outfits I’d made (the baby niece got these polka dot dungarees).

So, using this Little Softies Zoo Pattern (amazing, so well designed and written!) I made big and little elephants in the same fabrics.

Little Softies elephants

I was happier with how the baby elephant turned out. It really felt like I was short changing the toddler niece as I wasn’t happy with her dress or elephant and I was thrilled with her baby sister’s dungarees and elephant. Oh well, luckily she’s only two so she didn’t care!

IMG_2477IMG_2476

I was thrilled to get this message from the nieces’ mum a few days ago: “I spent a long time this morning trying to get a picture of the girls playing with their elephants but they move too much! I hadn’t even set it up, they absolutely love them!” (She really liked the dungarees and dress too!)

I didn’t have much time to make my present for homemade secret santa so I decided to stick with the Little Softies pattern, adding a giraffe to the mix. I made them out of lovely printed felt and did a bit more embroidery on them (as they were for an adult). I still realised that I’d essentially made a 29-year-old a baby toy, but she seemed to like them!

Felt elephant and giraffe

I only managed to snap a picture of these with the iphone after I’d given them, so sorry there’s not much detail.

So that’s the last of my pre-Christmas sewing all caught up! Homemade secret santa marked one year since my first sewing project since school (pyjama cat). It’s been really fun – I’ve loved learning so much and nothing beats the feeling of making a whole new thing out of fabric and thread.

I’m looking forward to sewing a lot more in 2013. I’m also hoping to get a lot more technically proficient and make many more wearable garments.

Making the felt elephant also ignited a new love – hand embroidery – so there might be a bit of that too!

Embroidered flower

I made this last week. The really rough petals and leaves are from before I got the embroidery hoop…

Did you make any Christmas presents this year? I wanted to make more but ran way out of time (I owe Mr V some pyjama shorts!). Next time I’ll start earlier, because I’ve missed my selfish sewing.

Merry Christmas from our home to yours!

Hello!

Our Christmas tree theme this year? If you’re going to go fake go really fake.

Sylvester silver christmas tree

Meet Sylvester, our silver tinsel tree. We love him!

But our less tacky decorations didn’t get along with him, so we hung those on a bough cut from the bottom of Mr V’s parents’ tree, which we helped them put up a few weekends ago. (You can see this on the left in the picture below, with the Christmas cards hanging above it.) We hung our stockings from the lower shutters and stacked all our presents underneath them.

IMG_2440

And then Doris wanted in on the action.

IMG_2443

Happy, happy scene.

IMG_2439

Ahh. tis the season.

I hope your Christmas is filled with love, just a teensy bit to0 much food and a lot of laughter.

xoxoxo

DM Buttons in Soho

Attention all UK sewists! Do you love self-fabric buttons but hate making them? Or like me, have you never made them but suspect any attempt to do so might end up in a cloud of swearing fury?

Fear not!

Whipstitch overmost baby dungarees 09

Ack, should have got my buttonholes done professionally too!

When I had nearly finished my baby dungarees, I got to thinking about buttons. I loved how the lining contrasted with the outer fabric, but felt this didn’t happen as much at the top as at the bottom, so some fabric covered buttons might bring the whole thing together.

But, ugh, the lining fabric was this ridiculously fray-prone brushed cotton fabric and I did not exactly relish the thought of making fabric covered buttons out of it (despite this excellent tutorial from Gertie).

I also really wanted sew-through buttons instead of shank buttons, just for a personal preference. So I got to googling and it turns out that DM Buttons and Buttonholes in Soho does sew through buttons in the size I wanted for just 30p – and they do it by post for an extra £2.

Here’s a bit about the history of DM Buttons, by Carol Alayne at tailoringforwomen.com: “Once upon a time Soho was home to many specialist trades but it’s more than likely that DM Buttons is one of the few survivors, trading out of the same building it was established in nearly 100 years ago… The sole proprietor is David Miller who took over the business from his father, who took over from his great aunt.”

Whipstitch Overmost

I excitedly popped a swatch of fabric (I eyeballed how much and think I was a bit generous) and a cheque in the post. (Then…. I did more research and realised what I really wanted was eyelet buttons, not sew through buttons – as sew through buttons are inappropriate for such a fray-prone fabric, so I emailled DM Buttons and we had a conversation and in the end we decided to go with shanks buttons after all and I’m really happy with them. Because I’d already sent a cheque, David changed my order from four sew-through buttons to five shank buttons, which I think ended up about ten pence in my favour.)

(If I ever really really want eyelet buttons? I found that Harlequin do them by post for £1.20 a pop, as well as a dizzying array of other buttons and custom haberdashery!)

So was it a waste of money to pay someone else to do something I could DIY? No. In the end I paid £3.20 for five buttons, delivered to my door. That compares well with either buying buttons or buying a self-fabric button kit.

DM Buttons

I know there’s only three buttons here – I’d already sewn two on!

 I’m thrilled with how the buttons look and I know they’ll stand up to toddler wear and tear better than if I had made them myself. In future, I’d send any teeny buttons I wanted covered off to DM Buttons and probably attempt to do larger ones myself, if the fabric was right.

Additionally, if I still lived in London I would definitely think about getting them to do my buttonholes for me on any particularly precious items. Just look at how quickly they do them! This would be worth it for me if I had used particularly precious fabric and worked really hard on a garment and didn’t want to risk ruining it on the last step… But more than the convenience and quality of using a specialist button maker like DM Buttons, I am happy to pay a bit extra to use them just because I’m so happy they’re there. Skilled and specialist artisans should be treasured. I know my five buttons won’t be keeping them afloat (Carol’s article suggests it’s mainly the local theatre costume trade that does, along with film, opera and the tailoring trade), but I love that they still do buttons by post for home sewists like me.

How do you decide whether to DIY to support a craftsman? Is there a specialist trader near you that you love giving your money to?

Dotty baby dungarees (Whipstitch Overmost pattern)

Hello long lost blog! I’d had this nagging feeling that I hadn’t updated in a while, but I had no idea it had been over a month! I’ve been really busy sewing away on Christmas stuff.

Here is my first completed Christmas present, a pair of baby dungarees for our littlest niece. It has been finished for a while but was awaiting buttons. In that time we’ve been lucky enough to have lots of visitors since I finished it, so I’ve been making them all coo over it!

Whipstitch overmost baby dungarees 08

The pattern is the whipstitch overmost and it was a delight to sew. I had some issues at first assembling the pattern (it’s a PDF print out), until I realised the pattern had expected me to be using US letter paper (of course!). Once I worked this out, it was pretty plain sailing, but PDF makers: remember not everyone uses the same paper!

Whipstitch overmost baby dungarees 06

The original pattern didn’t call for poppers, but my niece will be just 9 months old at Christmas and I didn’t think popper-less trousers were fair on her parents, so I used this tutorial to add them. BUT, then I read some comments on this post that suggested poppers aren’t great for crawling babies? I don’t know. I tried! I can always sew the opening closed.

I also didn’t use popper tape, I used those ones where you set them with a hammer. That was so much fun. BANG BANG BANG.

Whipstitch overmost baby dungarees 09

These buttons! I love these buttons. We’ll be talking about them tomorrow. I’ll be taking two spares with me for Christmas so that I can sew them in the right place if these are too long. My buttonholes weren’t so hot, but ho hum. I should have snipped the threads before taking these pictures.

The lining is flannel. The pattern is reversible, but I’m treating it as a lining because it is sooo much softer than the polka dots and I like having the little peeks of it here and there. I wish I’d used the pink fabric for the inside of the pocket, but oh well. Next time!

Whipstitch overmost baby dungarees 05

Here are some weird pictures where I stuffed the dungarees slightly with some fabric so could get a better sense of the shape (the crossover straps in the back had made them look all long and skinny.)

The elasticated waist is my favourite bit.

Whipstitch overmost baby dungarees

At least, I think it will be my favourite bit once it’s on a cute baby’s bottom.

IMG_2016

Seriously, this pattern is amazing. It all comes together really well and the instructions are clear. It comes with patterns for three different types of pockets and it’s just so cute!

PS. Here it is pre-buttons with the trousers rolled up to shorts length, from instagram:

baby shortalls

PPS. I also made this baby niece a baby quilt, before she was born.

 

Christmas bunting with lace trim

If you follow me on instagram, you’ll know that last week I started making bunting for our wedding (I’ll post about this at some point). Seven months (eeep!) is a long time to make the amount of bunting I need to make, but I knew that I’d get side tracked into other projects so I should give myself plenty of time.

Sure enough, I’d only sewn wedding bunting for two evenings when I got distracted by making some Christmas bunting as a present  for my mum’s birthday on Wednesday.

Without further ado… here it is!

She has a lovely mantelpiece to display this on, we don’t, so I had to stick it to the wall with masking tape.

I love it.

The birds are cut out from this Ikea fabric (£3 a metre!), and appliqued using my sewing machine. I outlined some of them in straight stitching or a zig zag stitch for emphasis. I was surprised at how many different birds were hiding in the fabric!

I used the same fabric on the back of the flags (because I have about a million metres of it. (I also used it here. )

I bought the two different fabrics for the front of the flags from the remnant bin at my local quilting shop. I picked them up a long long time ago but I think they were around £3-4 each for just under half a metre.

The red tape at the top is a red woven ribbon from the same quilting shop and the lace is from there too.

I attached a tiny bell (5p each) by hand to the bottom of each flag.

Even though it was only stuck up with masking tape, I loved how jolly it made our living room, so maybe for my next project I’ll get side tracked into making some Christmas bunting for us!

PS. I’m so sorry to bring Christmas to your blog reader so early! I just made this and love it so much I had to share!

Happy birthday apron – McCalls M5825

 

A long, long time ago, I bought an apron pattern because I figured it would be a good intro to sewing with patterns for a beginner like me, without having to worry about fit. But then, I never actually sewed it – I got on with quilt making and eventually made a few tops and dresses from patterns and discovered it wasn’t all that bad!

So the pattern sat there unused until Karen started her apronalong, which gave me just the kick I needed to dig out this pattern in order to make a present for my friend’s birthday. I’m so happy with the end result that I have to admit it will be a pang to give it away…

I used an Ikea checked fabric as my main fabric. It’s nice and tough for proper cooking, which my friend who will get this apron does a lot. I took the fabric shopping with me so I could hold it up against other fabrics to use with it, and eventually settled on one fat quarter of this lovely Kokka Wooded Forest fabric, which was pricey for a fat quarter at £4.50 but I think it really made this apron feel really special!

The pattern itself didn’t have a waistband, but I felt the two fabrics really benefited from a hit of red in the middle so I added one. This added quite a few headaches as to how to construct the whole thing, but I got there in the end! I think the instructions and construction of this dress would be nice and simple if I’d stuck to the waistband-less version.

The pockets and the bodice are both backed with denim (still left over from this skirt and this dress!), which I didn’t really take a picture of but you can see it peeking out here:

(Isn’t it weird how taking pictures on your dress form from certain angles can seem a little pervy?? – This one definitely did)

Best picture ever, though, right?

For the waist ties, the pattern calls for the normal “sew a tube, turn it inside out style”, but I totally messed mine up (cheap polyester plus badly applied interfacing plus hurried trying to turn it inside out). I was fed up of trying to turn stupid tubes inside out and I wanted to finish it up without going out for nice ribbon (plus the shops were shut), so I made my own ribbon out of some polka dot bias tape and the feather stitch on my machine. I love how this turned out! Talk about a happy accident.

I used the same feather stitch to finish my hem, which came out really bulky because of this fabric being decor weight. I also messed up and put the skirt on the apron wrong side out (so the less attractive side of the hem is on the outside). Oh well!

Thanks Karen for the kick I needed to finally make an apron!