2015 goals – half year update

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My aim this year is achieve more by being clear about my priorities.  I picked four personal goals – how am I doing?!

1.  Be healthier.  I got a Fitbit after reading this post, and love it.  I’ve got the Zip, the most basic one.  With the help of my good friend Anna, it encourages me to go to Salsa class – 5000 steps in an hour!  My step count is increasing every week (to around 85,000 a week now), and I feel much better for it.  Working on cutting down my sugar intake now.

2. Simplify.  I achieved my goal of giving away 500 things.  Not included in that is my Union Jack quilt (pictured).  I’ve completed half the flag part, and am using 30+ pieces of stash fabric to make it.

3. Develop a capsule wardrobe. Vague thoughts are as far as I’ve got!

4. Take more photographs.  Yes, and adding to our album every month.

So that’s not too bad.  I was feeling frustrated that I hadn’t achieved more towards being healthier, which is my main goal.  But I have made progress in the past couple of months.

I thought I’d love creating a capsule wardrobe, but it seems I’m not that interested after all!  I think I just like looking at other people’s selections.

Have you set yourself any goals this year?

Sewing dare completed! Make a cardigan

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I was a latecomer to Gillian’s (Crafting a Rainbow) sewing dares this year, and she very kindly encouraged me to get involved with –

“a dare to make (sew, knit, crochet, whatever) a cardigan to go with your lovely blouse and skirt outfits?”

I do have a cardigan on the knitting needles (keep getting distracted) and crochet and I are not friends, but I’d not thought about sewing a cardigan .  I decided to give it a go, and where better to look for inspiration than Gillian’s own wardrobe!

I love her blue Julia cardigan, so with a few clicks of the mouse to order pattern and fabric, and some taping together, I got started.

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I made a short sleeved muslin with some thin, very drapey jersey, which was surprisingly successful (I need to restitch the front band before I show you – I had a puckering problem).

This grey ribbed jersey has a little more weight but still drapes well.  I like the structured look around the shoulders.  Julia is a fantastic pattern, and very easy to make.

The band is a loop which is sewn around the entire edge of the cardigan.  I hand tacked it in place before I serged it, which means it lies completely smooth.  No puckers on this one.

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Thank you Gillian!  Another inspiring dare, and I can see myself making many more of these.

Mini Liberty magnets giveaway

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I’ve cut back on the number of craft fairs I go to, and so my first of 2015 is in a few weeks time – I’m excited!  You can see my calendar of events here.

I  like to have something new for the fairs each year, and this time I’m making mini fabric magnets.  They are only 25mm across (about the size of a pound coin), and so cute.

I have a set of five Liberty print magnets to give away – leave a comment on this post if you’d like to win them!

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Anyone, from anywhere can enter, and I’ll pick a winner by random selection on Tuesday 23 June.

I’ve been reading….

2015JuneBooksElizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey.  Dementia is a painful subject and this book talks about it in a sensitive, compassionate way.  It’s a fine mystery story too.  I adored it – and the last sentence still makes me cry.

Mrs Hemingway by Naomi Wood. The dazzling world  of the Hemingways, portrayed from the point of view of his four wives.  It’s fiction but seems true, with beautiful writing and vivid characterisation.

The Taxidermist’s Daughter by Kate Mosse. I love this kind of atmospheric, gothic novel, and this has one of the most compelling beginnings I’ve read.  And it has a map showing the places in the novel – I love a good map!

Ape House by Sara Gruen. I hadn’t read anything about this book and picked it up in the library because I recognised the author’s name from Water for Elephants.  It’s about a scientist studying ape/human communication and what happens when animal rights activists, and then a reality show (?!) get involved.  I thought it was a great read.

Eat. Nourish. Glow. by Amelia Freer.  One of my goals this year is to become more healthy.  To be honest, it hasn’t been going too well until very recently!  I like the approach in this book.  It’s about being consistent, not perfect, and she’s very good at explaining why some foods are a bad idea.  I’ve noticed since reading it that processed biscuits and cakes are too sweet for me.  I just thought I was enjoying them because they are ‘a treat’ in my mind.  So I bake them instead – I’m healthier, not perfect!

Experiments with knits #1 – Colette Mabel skirt

I find sewing with knits very frustrating.  The different weights and stretch properties mean there is a lot to think about when matching pattern to fabric.

But when a knit garment goes well, they are such useful and wearable things to have.  Two of my Mabel skirts are the most-worn things I’ve made since I started sewing.

So I’m going to try to get better at sewing knits!

My plan is to make the same pattern in two (or more) different knit fabrics, and see what I learn.

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The first test subjects are my three Mabel skirts.  They all have the same modification – I omit the back vent to give a more figure hugging line.

The black one – above – is made from scuba knit.  Scuba is a fine, smooth knit, usually made from polyester.  It doesn’t drape particularly well and is often used for body con garments.

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I’m not a fan of artificial fibres so didn’t think I’d like this fabric, but it’s my favourite of the three.  It was very easy to sew, the hem looks nice and stays straight, it doesn’t crease and it looks as good now as when I made it.

The second Mabel I made from a medium weight navy cotton jersey (not pictured).  I loved this one.  It was very soft, with more drape than the scuba.  But it was more difficult to sew, so my hem wasn’t straight, and it pilled badly after a few wears.

And finally, this one, from a small remnant of sweatshirt knit.  The thick fabric means it’s not very flattering (which is why you aren’t seeing it on me!) but it’s so comfortable and cosy.  A skirt to be worn with in winter, at home, with a big jumper, and woolly tights.   I had to sew a deep hem as the narrow hem kept curling up.

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So that’s the end of the first experiment.  Lessons learned – I’m going to be less prejudiced against artificial fibres, and I need to find out how to sew better hems!
I’m not sure what to do about the pilling problem.  It’s annoying to throw away a skirt I like after a few wears.  I’d love to hear your thoughts and any tips you have.  How do you select knit fabric?

Screenprinting with Jane Foster

I’ve been thinking about printing my own fabric for a while, and came across Jane Foster’s courses while googling one day.  I love Jane’s work, and the chance to learn from her – too good to miss!

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Jane is based in Kingsbridge – about an hour from me – so I drove down there on the most beautiful day.  There were four of us, and I think we were all a bit nervous!

It was fascinating to hear from Jane about her career and life as an artist.  And I fell in love with screenprinting on my first try.  I’m not very good at drawing, but the process makes  simple designs look great, so it’s ideal for me.

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I designed a flower using paper cut outs and round stickers, and struck with that for my one and two colour prints.

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We printed three bags, some scraps of fabric, and paper.  I also made tiny niece Greta a bag.

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She was a bit confused there was nothing in it (she had a very good look to make sure!), but soon came round when we showed her how to put toys in there.  (Also, she’s wearing the smocked dress I made – my sister knows how to make me happy).

Whenever I go on courses I am amazed by the variety of work produced – here is one bag from each of us.  Could they be more different?!

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You can find out more about Jane and her work at www.janefoster.co.uk – course details are in the Shop section.

500 things challenge – done!

One of my resolutions this year was to get rid of 500 things.  I completed the first half of the challenge in February – and that was fairly easy.  The second half was hard!  The obvious stuff had gone, so I had to really search.

508 things gone in 6 months

508 things gone in 6 months

Mr D was a star.  He had a major wardrobe clear-out so that was 52 things in one go.  Most of my clothing contribution were winter things that had worn out.

I gave away 48 sewing and knitting patterns during the 6 months.  Some of them were gifts and I held a blog giveaway, so those didn’t linger in the house too long.  But I bought most of them, and the majority were unused.   I definitely had ‘want to join in and sew all the things’ madness when I first started sewing and blogging!

It’s been a lesson to me to think a bit harder about the clothes I want to make and wear.  Maybe learn to adapt the patterns I have as well – there are still plenty in the drawer…

My resolutions now are to be more thoughtful about what I buy, and keep on top of giving away things we don’t need.  I find pausing for a day or two before clicking the buy button helps.  Pinterest is great for keeping wish lists, and not-so-subtle birthday present hints.

The main benefit I’ve found is I feel lighter, less distracted, and more focussed.  It’s quite addictive!

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The second 250 –

Mr D – 52 items of clothing

Me – 35 items of clothing
1 pair of wellies (failed to mend)
1 pair shoes
1 bag
33 sewing and knitting patterns
3 Burda magazines
25 books
Two 2014 guidebooks
2 bags of ribbons
15 pieces of fabric
1 bag fabric scraps
2 bags of yarn
2 bags of buttons
1 pair bag handles
1 bag purse making things
1 wire basket
1 pot glue
4 food items
2 plant pots
5 ornaments
1 bottle perfume
3 dog toys (Hetty strikes again!)
3 pieces of jewellery
1 watch
3 badges
6 storage jars/ boxes
Set of Project Life cards
4 unused beauty products
12 miscellaneous things from the kitchen drawer
3 pet food covers
soap dish
Photographic film splicer (we have no idea where this came from)
5 CDs
1 DVD
1 notebook
6 cleaning materials
7 bedding/towels
2 cameras
8 pieces of stash fabric used

You can see the first 250 here.