Monday, 2 May 2016

Make Something of Yourself May

How do.

Your brain on sewing

Deer and Doe Bruyere shirt which is about 60% complete
I'm going to put it right out there and put myself forward for the post of Queen Procrastinator. If there's slacking to be done I'm all for it. Buzzfeed is my bestie. This however means you pass whole months feeling like you were sleep walking thorough and have nothing to show for it. 

This is starting to bother me. 

I justify this to myself on the grounds that my day job is hectic so  when I come home I want to stare vacantly at things that are meaningless. This is all well and good in small doses however too much and you end up starting to feel like your days are get up, work, home, bed, rinse, repeat. 

With this in mind I decided to get back in with Me Made May. I have also signed up to Outrun May where I'm planning to run between 30 and 80 miles over the course of May for Macmillan. My justgiving page is here if you fancy chucking in some pennies for the good people at Macmillan 

Cookie Blouson Jacket
 Basically I'm up for anything that is an incentive for me to actually do something. I know I was supposed to sign up to MMMay16 before the 1st of May but meh. I'm doing it now. I will not be taking daily proper photographs. I will do slightly crappy ones on my phone to be posted on instagram. This feels much more achievable and frankly it's only to document for myself anyway.

So without further ado, here is my pledge. 

'I, Handmade Humbug, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May '16. I endeavor to wear a handmade garment each day for the duration of May 2016. A handmade accessory will only be allowed as an addition to a handmade garment and not to act as the garment in of itself. I will put up what I'm wearing daily on Instagram. I will blog at least once a week though this does not have to be related to MMMay16. I will complete the 3x garments I have had cut out and ready to go for months(!) and one 
crochet garment.'

       My crochet Un Finished Object (UFO)

Sencha Blouse view 3

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Baby on Board


npl -seaux or -seaus (-səʊz)
the clothes, linen, etc, collected by a bride for her marriage
[C19: from Old French, literally: a little bundle, from trusse a bundle; see truss]
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014

I decided when my best friend told me she was pregnant that I would make a baby trousseau. As you can see by the above definition that I'm using the term wrongly. Don't much care to be honest.
I had a whole raft of projects in mind however due to my previously mentioned difficulties with the concept of time and being a painfully slow knitter I didn't manage to get half of what I wanted to do done. 
By the time of her baby shower I'd only four items made (one took me six months to make to be fair). Some I have in the cut up and ready to be constructed stage so they will just have to be birthing gifts for when the little man finally comes to meet the world. 
Shout out to Baby Denman's grandmother's contributions. A raft of handmade jumpers that means that this lady must knit like the wind! and grandma on the otherside who came up with the brilliant idea of bags sorted by age. So clever. 
So without any further ado here are my minion's baby shower pressies.

Tin Can Knits- Fly Away Blanket

Love sewing issue 15- Very hungry caterpillar baby towel

Simon Francis- Baby Moccasins

Vanessa Moonice- Puffer fish 

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

I wanna hold your hand

It causes me a great deal of irritation when other sewists refer to a sew along or particularly in depth instructions as 'hand holding'. There are some very seasoned sewists who only give instructions a cursory glance before using the techniques their experience tells them will result in the finish they want. Others however are new to this game and need you to be a bit more thorough in the explanation, preferably with step by step photography for those that struggle to translate the words into the objects in front of you.

I consider myself an advanced beginner. I can add in a few steps that the instructions might not mention because my experience tells me that it will improve the fit, form or longevity of my garment. I however am still relatively new and sometimes need a little extra help to make sense of what is in front of me. I also have a great loathing of being 'wrong' so dammit I want to know I'm doing it right. 
My pockets came out a bit awry, but if it's wool surely it can just be blocked?

This leads me on to my latest make which I had to give myself a little bit of time before blogging about so I can be constructive rather than descending into childish name calling. Especially as the one who deserves the name calling is me. I have mentioned previously that I have a tendency towards baseless optimism and an almost Whovian approach to the nature of time. This often leaves me in the position of trying a complex new skill to an impossibly tight timeline. 

This was something lovely that hadn't occurred to me but really helped. Tacking the lining in place so it doesn't show when you stitch it down properly.
I had decided for Christmas to make the fella a new winter coat. I had repaired his old one several times and it was starting to look very threadbare and ropey. Enter the Thread Theory Goldstream Peacoat. I made him another of their patterns the Newcastle Cardigan for Christmas last year and really love the aesthetic they have. 
Bit of old quilt cover to act as a pocket stay giving the area strength.

He'd picked some lovely Brown wool and a Red and Green shot Viscose and Acetate Twill Lining  which depending on which way you look is either red or green both from Stone fabrics. He then picked some gorgeous buttons at Abakhans and frankly I was quite proud of the fella's taste. 

Now the problems come. 

I gave myself four days to do this. This might have worked out ok if I'd just followed the instructions but as there was a set of instructions for tailoring I though heck the Fella is worth that degree of work, why not. If I hadn't I would probably be much happier with the finished result. 

Wah la no pocket lining on show
The problem I feel is that the tailoring instructions are done by a lady called Dana who is evidently very skilled in her craft and writes as such. It reminds me though of the challenges on Bake Off where they're given deliberately sparse instructions to test the bakers knowledge. In this case instead of 'make a custard'  you get 'make a welt pocket'. Which I imagine if you've done a few before is simple pimple however my difficulty is even if I looked up instructions (of which Crafty does an excellent set ) I'm not familiar enough with the technique to see how it could be applied here. Now to be totally fair she doesn't instruct you to make a welt pocket, she just says that's what she did and considering it looks so beautiful why wouldn't you want to do that?!?! 
Cheeky flash of the lining

It's also difficult as it's not overly clear which of the pattern's instructions you need to skip and which to follow when following the tailoring instructions leaving me unpicking things that I stitched from the pattern instructions and then found shouldn't be done until later in the tailoring instructions. I also found I needed more pictures which were of a wider angle to help me work out how things fitted together. 

Even though I had no idea what I was doing all the tailor tacks did make me feel proper
This brings me on to the Peacoat kit you can purchase from Thread Theory. Another place where the instructions are very very few. The kit you get is obviously of very high quality but there isn't even an indication of which piece is which. The coat fronts are easy to work out, as are the shoulder pads but the sleeve head and collar took some noodle scratching. There's also absolutely no indication of how to use them.

 It would be really helpful if the kit is being sold for this particular pattern that there were instructions for how to use them. I had no idea where to place the pieces or which way up to place them. I tried googling it but ended up on a professional coat makers forum where, for reasons I don't really understand, they descended into a heated discussion of Punch and Judy??? 

New skill that I was quite pleased with. Catch stitching. See there was so much to love in these instructions. Just a tiny bit more of the larger detail would have made them perfect.
I had to do some just winging it which as mentioned previously I really didn't like to do especially with expensive  materials that are intended as a gift. In the end I just didn't use the undercollar or sleeve heads. I was too fed up of googling fruitlessly for anything that might be of assistance. Obviously I was annoyed at myself for not giving myself time but really really frustrated with the instructions. I can imagine that if you know what you're doing you can make sense of it all and come up with a really lovely piece. Although the peacoat is intended as being at its most basic to accommodate a beginner the tailoring instructions don't appear to account for the person who is trying to push themselves in terms of skills and therefore will need things explaining that the writer may consider obvious.

The idea of the tailoring instructions is lovely I just think it needs the input of a rank amateur such as myself to be able to ask all the stupid questions and therefore make them a little bit more accessible. 

I had however winged it so that the hood was attached permanently to the coat as per the fellas instructions. I wish I had interfaced the hood as it is so floppy it's a tiny bit Jedi. I've had to come back to it to sort out the buttons which I did too quickly and therefore stitched on wonky. 

Final piece photographed by the lovely Mr James Denman.
I am told from the recipient however that I am nit picking and that he loves it which is the main thing.  I do love the style and the combination of the lining and shell fabric so maybe with some time I might come to love it too. Hopefully once the feeling of being irretrievably out of my depth passes.

The lining. I'm crouched behind this holding it up

Sunday, 10 January 2016

Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them.

It's important when blogging to be really clear what your subject area is and to stick to this. Don't be jumping all over the place. Keep your focus.

With that in mind as a person who set up her blog to talk about things that I've made sewn, knitted or crocheted, today I'm going to talk about books.

Sewing books?


Anyway I was browsing some old stuff and came across a challenge I took part in from back in 2008 to read 50 books in a year. The second time I managed 65 books but I've come no where close to this since (I tried twice after that, one I only got to four though I suspect that was because I lost interest in documenting it rather than I stopped reading).

Fair enough at that point I was a student but I was a student nurse. If I wasn't on placement I was working bank shifts or studying so I wouldn't have had more spare time than I do now. The biggest change is I've started filling my spare time with handicrafts. This got me to thinking that although I love these hobbies I miss being bookish.

So I'm taking another shot at it but in a slightly more realistic form for me. I'm scaling it down to 25 books in a year. Now as I say that it saddens me that this is all the feels realistic to me but better that than nothing and hell sometimes life happens.

So the rules still stand: the criteria is that it has to be any book that I finished in 2016, so if I start it this year but don't finish it then it won't count. On the other hand, if I started it in 2015 and finish it this year then it counts. 

Join in if you'd like. Let me know what you're reading and if we're reading the same thing I'd love to know what you think. 

Saturday, 2 January 2016

Happy New Year

Hope your New Years Eve was full of friends and family and fun. I was the designated driver so woke up with a relatively clear head. I write this now in a quiet house as my parents have just left from staying with us for New Years and the fella is at the football.

Last year one of my resolutions had been to start a blog which I have and although at times there have been extended gaps I have continued it. I said last year that I had not been going at it long enough to be able to do a review. I think this year I have much more to show in terms of what I've made so I think my next post will be a review of hits and misses.

This post however I want to focus in a wider sense on resolutions for the year and what I'd like the year to be. I've come across the idea of reducing this down to a word which I think a good idea if not a little tricky to try an encompass all the things I want to look at in one word.

So I've been deliberately vague and gone with Change. Of course I realise that all resolutions when you boil them down are just the intention to change but this is what felt most appropriate to me.

I realised that last year sped by and that this was mostly as there were great chunks of time where I was just trying to drag myself through to some future point. My most common thought was 'Just got to get through today, that's all you've got to do. Get through today'. Now I realise that makes it sound like I've been quite depressed but I assure you I haven't. I do however need to have a good think about my situation and what it is that causes me to feel like this.

Of course to quote Captain Sparrow 'The problem is not the problem; the problem is your attitude about the problem.' At this time however I think some of the obstacles are too great for a positive mental attitude alone to overcome.  

So what to change? A few plans are already in motion and the irrational part of my brain can't talk about them until they're more substantial in case too much scrutiny causes them to disappear like spooked deer.

So these are the areas I'm looking to change.

    • Change the way I manage my time. If procrastination is the thief of time then I am in for some serious prison time. There are so many productive things that I should be doing however I spend an unreasonable amount of time in loops of online slide shows. There's much more I'd like to achieve this year. I just need to free myself up to do it. This includes not taking on vast amounts of activity so every task becomes a pressured chore. Do less, well rather than more, poorly. 
    • Change the way I approach the vegetable patch in the garden. So far really I've just been playing at it. Chuck a bunch of seeds in and harvest whatever if anything that turns up. I'd like for it to be a working patch that we can eat from through the year. This then puts you in touch with the change of the seasons.
    • Change my approach to my physical and mental health. Actually bother to take care of myself. Increase exercise and lower calorie intake for no other purpose than for me to feel better. I like to run and feel better when I do. Maybe switching the motivation from 'you're a tubby cow who needs to move' to ' wooooo look at me go!!!!!' may help me along with this.
    •  Change my perspective on my skills. Stop beating myself up when I make a mistake. It's ok. It really is. You're the only one who notices you perfectionist nut job. 

Saturday, 28 November 2015

Hair! What is it good for?

I cried in a hairdressers on Thursday night.

 An undignified affair of watching in a mirror as my hair fell away, hoping against hope the final reveal wouldn't be what I was expecting. It was exactly what I was expecting. The issue isn't the cutting off of my hair, that I really couldn't give a fig about. It grows so quickly that a buzz cut would be pixie length in just over a month. No my issue was with the nature of my hair which every time I go to a hairdressers I hope they'll be able to fix.

You see it's incredibly fine. All it does is hang limp and collect grease. Honestly I should hook up with McDonalds and make my fortune. Some wise souls amongst you will tell me that I need to wash it less frequently, to you I say pffffffft. I cannot get through a day with unwashed hair without feeling absolutely vile.

This particular hairdresser did not show me the way. He just kept shrugging and telling me that it was very difficult as my hair is very fine; while a poster to the side of his head proclaimed the many ways thicker hair could be achieved. Partially I accept the blame due to the impossibility of making a silk purse out of a sows ear however surely as I walked in with the self same straight fine hair and proclaimed my hatred of it then it's possibly inadvisable to take straighteners to it? Again again wise souls will proclaim the benefits of straighteners for sharpening the edges of a cut. To those people I repeat pfffffft. My hair will do straight all on it's own, please I beg of you, make it do something else!

I'm lazy. Let's face it, it's true.

I realised this when I explained my hair styling routine to the salon manager who kindly took me upstairs to calm down. I wash my hair, I tie it in a ponytail then I turn the blowers in my car to full. Rinse repeat. I feel like I have missed a vital step in adolescence when all this shit is experimented with and a style developed. You make all those mistakes when you're 15 and then as you get older you refine until you are much more polished and together.

I missed all this due to being deeply uninterested. I'm still uninterested now but I still want the end result and will get very upset when it doesn't magically appear. The nice salon manager showed me lots of tricks to make my hair do what I was hoping it would. I then tried to recreate this the following day.

I cried again.

I remain hopeful though. I'm trying to learn and have bought many styling products which it appears are the required means to barnet bliss (I'm aware this will most likely led to me being broke and disappointed but...well I've no sensible answer to that). I even intend to go to bed with curlers and a scarf wrapped around my head. Cotton obvs as I've learnt this wicks away sweat and the natural oils of the hair. Afro hair should use silk in order to do the opposite. It's amazing the things you learn on Radio 4.

p.s curly haired girls who wish they could get their hair to do what mine does. I refuse to accept that we all want what we haven't got. It's just that everyone's hair is against them and that it's not paranoia if you're right.

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Foolhardy fun

WARNING! You are about to look at a lot of pictures of ladies wearing not a lot. Do so at you own discretion and preferably not at work. :) 

I generally take ages to do anything. I have a very short attention span so will generally find what feels like a natural stopping point in any task (or half way through a fiddly job, whichever) in which to wander off and do something else. It also isn't helped by the fact that generally I am sewing in 15 minute chunks before I go to work. Projects therefore take time and my to do list gets longer and longer.

Turns out buying fabric is much more rapid than turning it into things, who knew?

My last two projects however have been exercises in working to short deadlines and binge sewing. The one I'll tell you about here was very blatantly my mouth writing cheques my body could questionably cash. Interesting side note, my spell check doesn't recognise cheques ah the young spell checkers of today, it's all paypal and contactless payments for them.

Anyway, so exercise in blatant foolhardyness is agreeing to make a bikini in just under a week. I have never made a bikini before but how hard could it be.....ah that hard. My friend and colleague is an emerging talent in the body building world, she lifts many many of the heavy things. She needed a costume for her theme piece and I love me a bit of dress up.

Initially we were going for  a Zena feel however she had a bit of a look around and it was going to be done a hundred times in her show. I therefore used my nerd powers to come with a character that looks badass but no one could accuse of being over dressed. Which is why we ended up with Kitana from Mortal Kombat. If you're saying 'who?' then you are further proof of how I massively misjudged the reference points of pretty much everyone else in the world. *sigh*.

I purchased a pdf bikini pattern from a Jodi Lane Designs on etsy. I went for the triangle top and v cut bottoms. The pattern turned out to be really quite good and the accompanying videos were very thorough however I'm used to a lot more information being included with my pattern like what fabrics will work best and which notions you need. It was at this point I started to have some doubts. Had I possibly bitten off a tiny bit more than I could chew.

The cutting went very smoothly due to my new rotary cutter. I managed to cut myself on it's very first use but that was always going to be par for the course. I need to work out a few of the kinks of using a rotary cutter including getting more maneuverable pattern weights than tins of tuna but on the whole I think that is the future. Everything was so gosh darn tiny! How could there be enough fabric to cover a human being?!? Sadly I have no photos of the construction stages as I was running much too tight for time.

Anyway so it came to stitch it together and this is where we come unstuck. I hate working with elastic, I can't seem to get the tension even. If anyone has any tips I'd be overjoyed to hear them as I would like to make some underwear again in the future. Fortunately I had enough fabric to make a couple of attempts at it which was handy as the first top I made was far far too small. Oh also this fabric if put under any strain ladders like a pair of tights. Fun times.

It's not perfect by any stretch and I accidentally got contrast rather than matching thread which means you can see every point where I've gone over and over the same spot to make that sucker stay. I'm trying to ignore this and focus on I made a bikini!

For the rest of the pieces I made a mask out of same fabric and a jersey lining tied on with some black cord in a similar style to a surgical mask. The skirt is made in a similar fashion to the straps by wrapping thicker elastic in the fabric and zig zag stitching it down with two panels of fashion fabric wrapped over the front and back. The bladed fan is just plastic dinner knives stuck to a fan. What? I was working on a deadline with the resources I had. I think she makes it work though, don't you?