Thursday, 30 May 2013

Goodbye Suzie Stitches... hello Fabric Maverick!

So this is my forty-first and final post on Suzie Stitches.

I've been dithering for a few months about starting a fresh new sewing blog and I've decided it's now or never.  It'll pretty much be a continuation of this blog but I've taken more time to choose a name and design that I'll like long term.  

So introducing my new sparkly Fabric Maverick blog!  My first post is up and I'm ready to go.   I've got a 'My Makes' page where I've put links to some of my old posts on this blog.  And I won't be closing this blog, I just won't be updating it any more.

For the full story please visit:

Hopefully see you over there soon!


Saturday, 27 April 2013

My First Skirt!

Only two weeks ago we had our last snowfall, but this weekend spring finally seems to have arrived in Eastern Canada.  Coinciding nicely with the arrival of my first homemade skirt :) 

The pattern is 2451 Simplicity, Version D.  I saw a helpful write-up on Pattern Review for this skirt by Alice of Moonbeam.  I really liked her version, so thought I'd give it a try.

I made it with my sewing teacher Mili.  So this will only be a short post, as I don't have any construction notes/tips (they are all in her head!)  The process was easy for me as she had traced all the pattern pieces and made a muslin that fitted me perfectly.  It's like when famous chefs do TV cooking shows.  They can just rock up at the last minute as someone has already done all the hard work of measuring and chopping the ingredients for them.  Mili is the sewing equivalent of that!

I really like the fabric.  It's Free Spirit, Karavan (Peacock) by Valorie Wells.  I like to think it's a bit psychedelic sixties. 

The back isn't perfect.  But for a first attempt it's wearable.  A beginner's error was that I didn't align the pattern when I cut out the two back panels.  It's quite a busy, chaotic pattern though so from a distance it's not too obvious.

I'm a big fan of the design of this skirt pattern.  It's very me, and I can see myself making several different versions in lots of funky fabrics.  Indeed I'm already half-way through making a bright aqua blue version.

I'm also inspired by the 'Me-Made-May' challenge, of wearing homemade clothes all of next month.  With my one skirt, and one halterneck top, I'm well on my way... ahem!  But I'd love to give it a go next year, and hope to have enough items in my wardrobe to pledge to wear three me-made items each week of May.  It will probably consist of a dozen different versions of this skirt but I think that will still count!  

Monday, 8 April 2013

The Bowie Penguin

Bowie is back! I'm loving his new album, it's been the soundtrack to 2013 for me.  The first thing I put on when I get home from work.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, I discovered Fanbloomingtastic's blog and Bowie sew along.  Since then I've had the pleasure of waking up every morning to a daily dose of Bowie on my blog feed.  Such a great way to start the day :)

Fanbloomingtastic's Bowie sew along was already in full swing when I discovered it.  With limited time until the end of the challenge, and a limited repertoire of sewing patterns in my collection I knew I wanted to join in but wasn't too sure how...

The inspiration came when the silhouette of a pair of Bowie's trousers reminded me of something.  What was it again? Oh yeah, that's right, it looked just like the backside of a penguin...

I used Gingercakes Penguin pattern again, which was even easier second time round.  I only just finished the penguin tonight, the last day of the sew along, so it was a bit dark for the photos.  But in real life the thread is a sparkly silver. 

The thunder bolt is also glittery red, which again doesn't come out in the photos, but adds some more Stardust penguin glamour.

It's not the neatest project, but I had fun free styling the silver stitching with a beer in my hand and Bowie tunes blaring... the different Bowie coloured eyes were a last minute addition.

It's not the friendliest looking of penguins.  More the demon penguin in Wallace and Gromit than a lovable Pingu.  I also thought he might be a world first.  But no, a quick search on google shows that there are a handful of other Bowie penguins in existence... what?!

The other contributions to the Bowie sewalong are amazing. A full-on Union Jack coat, a glow in the dark skirt, a ziggy stardust outfit... wonderfully creative, inspiring and fun, I've been very impressed :)

We're currently watching the new Dr Who series, and so I'll also be embracing,  Fanbloomingtastic's Autumn Dr Who sew along :)  A penguin timelord?!

Sunday, 31 March 2013

Fancy Easter Feet

Happy Easter! And happy last day of the Fancy Feet challenge:)

The idea of Ricochet and Away's Fancy Feet challenge was to find a sewing foot that puts us outside our comfort zone and learn how to use it. 

I've only ever used the regular foot and the zipper foot before.  So it was a great opportunity to explore the others that came with my machine, and as a result I'm now well acquainted with the buttonhole foot.

I'm not sure the buttonhole foot deserves the title of a 'fancy foot', and as soon as I get in the swing of making clothes I'm sure it'll become very mainstream.  However at triple the size of a regular foot, and with a design that only makes sense once you see it in action, it did feel quite fancy to me...

I originally searched the internet for guidance on using the foot, but then reverted to the instructions in the sewing machine manual, as these had all I needed to know.

I saw the Easter bunny treat bag project on the Sew Can She blog.  It was excellent for practising using the buttonhole foot.  The buttonhole was only used to make an opening for the ribbon, so I could safely experiment with the foot without risk of ruining the project.


It was a great project for using scrap fabric as well, as the only new thing I bought was the ribbon...

I made the Easter bunny bags for a recent potluck night with friends.  Not to deprive them of something more substantial I also made a trio of potato salads (regular, blue cheese & bacon, and curried).  The handsome looking Bakewell tart (below right) was Mr Suzie Stitches' creation complete with hand piped icing.

This month Craftsy also advertised a free mini class called 'Sewing Machine Feet from A to Z.' The timing was perfect so I've signed up for that so I can learn more about what the other feet all do.

Thanks Rikka for setting the challenge.  Not my most adventurous of projects, but a fun and festive one, and definitely an unusual potluck party bag :)

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

A Handbag!

We've recently watched the original 1952 film of The Importance of Being Earnest.  So in our house, the word handbag can only now be said in Lady Bracknell's voice:

Anyway, just a quick post to show you my new handbag.  I made it with my sewing teacher, Mili, using the Frenchy bag Amy Butler pattern.  It's a lot more sophisticated than the Tote bags I've been endlessly making as it's got interfacing, a clasp, pleats and inside pockets.

The pink fabric is Innocent Crush, Mixed Signals (cherry) by Anna Maria Horner.  I used what I thought was light/medium-weight interfacing but I think it was a bit heavy for the bag, as the pleats and shape are quite rigid.  So I would probably use a lighter interfacing next time, although it has resulted in a very durable bag so it might not have been a bad thing...

I definitely intend to make another version of this bag with different fabrics, as it's a great size, and wasn't too difficult to make.  Next up though is my first completed project for the Fancy Feet challenge I've joined... blog post coming soon :)

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Penguin Present

The final homemade birthday present for Mr Suzie Stitches was a cuddly penguin.  Our modest penguin collection started a few years ago when he came home from a lads weekend away, a bit worse for wear, but proudly clutching a penguin teddy.  Origin unknown!

Left, the latest edition to our penguins, right our original Penguin

When we moved to Canada, we came over with just a suitcase each.  It was very liberating to start again without lots of stuff.  But we did manage to find room for our penguin friend...

Now we've been here a year and a half our penguin collection is starting to grow.  This year at work, (a fundraising company) we had plush penguins as prizes for the kids in their fundraisers.  It was great for the big kids too, as I got to add some penguin dudes with spiky hair and shades to our collection (below).
Our penguin shelf
Our latest addition was made using a pattern by Gingercake patterns on Etsy.  The instructions were very easy to follow, and it was a relatively simple project that I was able to complete in a couple of evenings. 

The pattern recommends using cotton flannel for the fabric.  I saw lots of bright and fun flannel fabrics which would look great, and which I'd like to use in future versions of this pattern.  As it was for Mr Suzie Stitches I chose a fabric that wasn't too girly.

'Fat bottomed penguins, you make the rocking world go round'...

 It does look a bit obese, maybe I went a bit overboard on the stuffing... 

Anyway I was happy with the finished result.  The Gingercake pattern was a great design and a fun project, and I would recommend it from beginners onwards.

I had to google to see what a collection of penguins was called.  Apparently it's called a rookery, a colony or a waddle.  A waddle, isn't that the most brilliant name :)  So I'm pleased to introduce you to the latest addition to our waddle!

Thursday, 28 February 2013

Fearless February IPAD Cover

So it's the final day of February and the final day of the Fearless February sewing challenge.  The task was to push ourselves outside of our comfort zone, and tackle sewing projects that we would usually consider too daunting. 

Being relatively new to the sewing scene, my idea of a daring project, is probably a doddle for most :) But I'm still proud to introduce my Fearless February IPAD Cover/Stand:



This was a fearless feat for me, as it was the first time I had:
  • designed my own fabric
  • used a pattern from an independent seller on Etsy
  • used a saw (well not quite the first time, but the first time in a couple of decades)
  • spent an entire day of my life sewing, bliss :)

Fearless Feat One: My first Spoonflower Fabric Design

Think I had the camera on a dodgy setting for this photo
I had the idea to personalize the IPAD case by designing a fabric with our favourite IPAD app icons e.g. Facebook, BBC News, Blogger etc.  This fabric design was 90% inspiration, 10% perspiration, as after coming up with the idea, it was simply a cut and paste job to complete the design. 

I really rated my whole Spoonflower experience.  The website was user friendly, and the online fabric preview function was invaluable as it helped me to get the sizing and layout right.  For a yard of fabric it cost $19 CAD inclusive of delivery, and it was in my hands within a couple of weeks of ordering.  Spoonflower rocks!

Fearless Feat Two: Unleashing my inner carpenter

The pattern required two pieces of Masonite for the IPAD stand, to be cut to precise dimensions.  Luckily my friend Martin has made a bed for his spare room from scratch, so had all the tools of the trade over at his house.  I was going to 'delegate' this task, but I had a go, and surpassed myself with some unexpectedly nifty sawing!

The wonky one on top is Martin's and the straight one below is mine! No really...

Definitely a 'fearless' task as I'd not done any woodwork since Technology classes in school nearly two decades ago, and there were a few near misses with the blade... but all was good :)

Fearless Feat Three: Using an independent Seller's Etsy pattern

I've mainly been using commercial patterns, or patterns from sewing books.  Partly because I've assumed these are likely to be most user-friendly and reliable, and partly because I had yet to discover the wonderful world of Etsy.

This fabulous pattern was a 'Sew Spoiled' design by Leah Williams and came with comprehensive and clear instructions, and step-by-step photos.  

After scouring the web, this pattern was one of the few I found that wasn't just a protective case but also a stand.  The design of the stand is great, as it'll make it easy for me to read recipes/sewing patterns with the IPAD propped up. 

I'm now an Etsy convert, and have lost any fear at using independent pattern designers, as this pattern was actually far better than ones I've used in books and commercial shop-bought patterns.  On reflection, not being constrained by a word count or Publisher deadline can only enhance the quality, and I'm really looking forward to shopping for more patterns by independent pattern designers :)

Fearless Feat Four: A whole day of sewing!

I'm forever waking up and thinking how lovely it would be to switch a day in the office for a day with my sewing machine.  However come the weekend there's usually other distractions to stop me spending more than an hour or so in my sewing room.  But with my main distraction, Mr Suzie Stitches, at a work conference last weekend, I scheduled a whole day of sewing. 

As this project was more complex than I'm used to, it worked really well to devote an entire day to it.  I leisurely took my time over each stage, safe in the knowledge that however long it took I should have the finished product in my hands by nightfall.  Unlike a lot of my other projects, I also completed it without the help of my sewing teacher, as I figured it wouldn't be very fearless if there was someone there to hold my hand (or in this case, my saw!)

The IPAD case is a present for Mr Suzie Stitches birthday tomorrow so hopefully he'll appreciate all the fear that has been valiantly overcome to make this gift ;)

Fearless February, was a great mantra for this month. Thanks very much to Victoria at 'Ten Thousand Hours of sewing' for the inspiration and challenge :)