Sunday, 23 March 2014

Shoes (made by ME)!

Pink shoes! Oh lala, I am a lady...
Can you imagine, I made a pair of shoes!!! They are pink, they are soft, they fit and I love them! I am sure you wonder, how come I made my own shoes? I went to a shoemaking class that I got as a present from Lescha for my birthday in March! I was so surprised and it was the perfect gift!

The class was in Central London at Prescott and Mackay. It was a really exhausting, but amazing, weekend class and the only thing we had to bring was some fabric or leather to make the shoes from. I bought some really soft suede leather from Walter Reginald. They have a massive leather outlet in London and when I went there I was totally overwhelmed. I had no idea what to choose and after asking I was pointed in a general direction and saw this pink suede (I believe it is goat). It was only £8.50 for the whole skin, which I thought was quite cheap for such a soft material.

At the shoemaking class we were only 6 Ladies plus our instructor Caterina Belluardo. Caterina is a footwear designer and an amazing instructor. She was constantly helping and motivating us :) Believe me there were moments when I actually thought, what the hell are you doing here? Are you crazy trying to make shoes? There was a moment that actually reminded me a lot of my first try to set in a sleeve: you had to ease and form the leather around the tip of the shoe.

Even the heels are covered in leather.

So the first day was a lot of cutting and you cut the leather with a scalpel. The scalpel gets blunt very quickly and you have to apply loads of pressure to still be able to cut. Hello, blister. Because that's what I got at the tip of my index finger (after thinking for 2 days my finger tip is numb). But never mind all these blisters, cuts and burns, because at the end I made beautiful shoes!

Shoemaking involves a lot of hammering and nailing, because you have to first nail the leather and lining to the shoe sole before you can can glue everything together! Believe me, I managed to bend loads of nails! But I can report that my hammering and nailing skills improved at the end of day two, yeah.

I am not going to bore you with all the details of 15 hours of shoemaking, hehe. But we were able to choose from 3 designs: flat and round; thistle toe and heel; pointy and heel. Then you could also choose the design of the upper part of the shoe. You can have a look here in the Flickr group of Prescott and Mackays to see what the other participants made :) All shoes turned out amazing. One of the ladies even used a Liberty print!

Here is my soon-to-be shoe on the last (the yellow thing). Can you see all the little nails? We had to pull them all out again!

On day two, the shoes actually started to look like shoes. We did loads more hammering and nailing, more gluing, and then finally came the moment we could glue the sole to the shoe. It was like magic! One moment you had this kind of yeah might be a shoe and then a minute later you had this beautiful shoe! I decided to add straps to my shoe, because usually I can't walk on heels (even tiny ones) if they are not tied to my ankle.

The last thing I have to do - before I can wear these shoes - is to bring them to a cobbler. We only glued the heel on and it would break off when walking. So the cobbler has to nail it on. I am a little worried about it, because I am scarred he will ruin my shoe! And will it still be my shoe?

Here you can see the lining.

I have to admit, I am really hooked now. I would love to make another pair and it is actually not that difficult to get all the supplies you need. But as every hobby, it is expensive! So, at the moment I am just looking into all the possibilities and do a lot of dreaming about my own shoes (imagine to make your own wedding dress and shoes! Not that I need to, I am still waiting for the proposal ;) ).

So, what do you think? Would you like to try something new? Make your own shoes or lingerie (that's next on my list)?

You can see that they are a bit different ;) But I don't mind...
I know you want to see a picture with me wearing the shoes :) But be patient, as soon as it gets a bit warmer you will. I just couldn't convince myself today to go outside in these shoes - it was cold, rainy and my legs are all white :P

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Quilting time!

Today I want to share my latest make with you - it is a quilt I started to make last year in March. I actually finished it this year February, but due to all my thesis writing (only one month to go, yeah!) it's hard at the moment to find time to write posts :P But hopefully after Easter, I am back at my sewing machine and blog!

Spring Quilt

Pattern: Amazingly, the pattern and instructions for this quilt are free. You learn to make the quilt in a patchworking class with Amy Gibson (check out her fabulous blog) on Craftsy! So if you always wanted to learn how to patchwork, but were afraid because of the difficult blocks, just have a look. Amy does an amazing job - I really loved her class.

You see that spiral on the top left corner? That was most difficult to quilt, because it was in the middle of the quilt and because you go round and round a had to squeeze so much. All that massive quilt under my small sewing machine. The block on the bottom left corner is actually quilted with feathers. Can you see them? Me neither :P because this design I just couldn't get in my head!

For the actual quilting I bought the class with Leah Day on Craftsy. Leah does loads of free motion quilting and you might already be aware that this is my favorite way of quilting :) Leah actually has this free motion quilting project going, where she shows you how to make many different designs. Just check out her website! (Note: I am not getting paid by Craftsy by telling you all this. It's just, I love it!)

Fabric: Everything I could find in my boxes and then I bought another piece from time to time :) I tried to go with one color theme that does not only include pink! I think I managed quite well! Although for the quilting, I just couldn't resist!

The flower on the bottom right corner is one of my favorite designs, its called Dresden plate.

Construction: I could have finished this quilt in less than a year. I actually had assembled the quilt top since last summer, but then I started to make my mums butterfly quilt for her birthday and had to stop working on this quilt. It lived in my sleeping room on the basket for the dirty clothes. Thus before washing it, I actually had to go over it with a lint roller just to remove all the dust. Next time, I will put the quilt in a bag :P Luckily this time, none of the colors leaked onto the white background - I must have been extremely unlucky with my mums quilt (possibly because it was a present, something had to just go wrong!)

The "butterfly" on the bottom right corner is made from hexies, that you have to handstitch together! Did I mention that I don't like handstitching? But I survived and actually enjoyed the process :)

The quilting took many hours and I strained quite hard to finish the sashing. You see all these little spirals? I love them, but it was really hard to get them in. I have one confession to make: I didn't unpick a single stitch! There are some really big quilting mistakes in this quilt, areas were I just couldn't keep a straight line or didn't get the pattern right. But you know what? I don't care. The quilt is so busy, you can't spot these mistakes that easily. And as I am not planning to participate in any quilting shows, I really don't mind these mistakes!

The quilt lives now in my living room! I would have liked to hang it onto a wall, but sadly the only wall big enough is in the dining room. I don't want to put it there because I am afraid of the grease and fumes from the kitchen  - we don't have a kitchen door. So it is now on my couch making a beautiful living room decoration.

So, I will leave you with a few more detail pics from my most loved quilted block. It's called flying geese!

The binding reminds me of candy and lollipops!

Although the quilting of this block took about 2 hours, I just love the design! 

And that's the back! Summer yellow!

Friday, 7 March 2014

Deer and Doe Plantain adventure!

I finally jumped onto the bandwagon and made a Plantain! I had some problems with the fit and although I did some adjustments I am not fully happy with the fit yet!

My final Plantain version.

Pattern: Plantain from Deer and Doe, which is available for free from here!

Fabric: I bought a super cosy jersey from Goldhawk Road. It was £4.50 the meter and I managed to cut the three-quarter sleeve version from only 1 m of fabric! There was loads of squeezing and shuffling involved. For the elbow patches I used some leftover jersey from my latest ladyskater dress - that you haven't seen yet. :) But be patient, I will show it to you soon! If you wonder, no these fabrics were not in my stash, but I made allowances for jersey anyway. I looooooooove jersey. Most of my bought clothes are actually jersey!

Pattern alterations: I graded from size 36 bust to size 40 hip. Sloping shoulder adjustment - I added 5/8" to the back shoulder seam and removed 5/8" from the front. To not move the sleeve cap, I added 5/8" at the sleeve back seam and removed it from the sleeve front seam. I think because of this the sleeves are not sitting properly - next time I will just move the sleeve cap. Swayback adjustment - I took out 1". But looking at the fit, I will have to take out more!

Construction: It was a slight nightmare adventure! For my first attempt, I just used the pattern as it was and because I was sewing with my overlocker that went really fast. But when I tried on the Plantain, I realised that a boxy style just doesn't suit me! I looked like wearing a tent and there were massive pools of fabric at the waist to hip area. I thought, no problem, you can just tuck it into a skirt - there was no way I could do that because it looked even worse. I also used the wrong settings on my overlocker and the seams were puckering. It just looked awful on me. And that although there are so many beautiful versions out there...

Uhh, all these drag lines.
This meant, I took everything apart. And what joy it is to open overlocked seams. My new best friend was the lint roller! The threads were just everywhere. To get a better fit at the hips, I took my Burda dress pattern out, aligned it with the center back and front of Plantain and marked the new seam lines. I then carefully pinned the seams together and using the right settings on my overlocker went sewing. And that is how I ended up with my version of the Plantain. Slightly better fitted and not boxy at all!

I am not happy with the fit of the sleeves and back yet and will have to address this for my next version. I bought already a white jersey with little gold stripes in it. So keep your eyes peeled!

Ahem, I had to take the sleeves apart a second time, because I actually forgot to stitch the elbow patches on :( I could have left them out, but I really wanted to add them. Although I pinned the patches very well they still stretched a bit and are now a bit bulky. But luckily you can't see it when I am wearing the Plantain!

Lastly, I broke my twin needle (and it was the only one I ever owned!) when attempting to topstitch the neckband! I am just happy that it only bent and no pieces were flying around!

Do I like it? I am not in love with it because of all the struggles I had. And because the fit is not great. Maybe I should just get the Renfrew pattern to make a snug jersey top!

Have I worn it yet? I have - in combination with my Beignet skirt. I actually wanted to make a T-Shirt that I can wear with my Beignet, because somehow my wardrobe hardly has any basics that I can wear it with. I guess, I just chose the wrong pattern. The Plantain is a T-Shirt that you can better wear with trousers, but not tugged into a skirt.

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