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Sewing Inspiration and Much More: July’s Makes

Sewing inspiration and maker ideas always strike when busy! I’ve not had as much chance to make things this past month; starting to work again for my filmmaking business meant I had less time to sew and crochet, but I’ve still made a couple of things.

My sewing inspiration

I started by finishing the Tea House Top that was left sleeveless at the end of last month. I ended up having to do this by hand, since my sewing machine seemed to throw all its quirks at me at once. As shops opened, I was able to take it to be serviced – and it had an incredibly fast turnaround time! I dropped it off on a Thursday, expecting it to be gone a week or more, but on the following Monday afternoon I had a call saying it was ready to collect!

The Tea House Top by Sew House Seven made in fabric I bought while in Peru
I'm so happy this is finally finished! Hand sewing the sleeves was actually quite relaxing

Finishing the sleeves of my top by hand didn’t actually take as long as I’d thought it might; it was perhaps a few hours extra work which, granted, would have taken me around 15 minutes if my sewing machine had been behaving, but it was actually quite nice to hand sew for a while. It made me consider hand sewing an item of clothing as a project and I may well do this in the future – there’s something quite calming about hand sewing garments and it’s surprisingly rewarding, even when the amount of hand sewing you do is quite small.

Sewing some new trousers

My next project has been a pair of Named Clothing’s Ruri Sweatpants. Having bought some deadstock 100% organic cotton fleece for the project, I first needed to dye it the right colour. It needed dyeing as I didn’t really like the colours that it was available in, so I bought the beige as I thought it would be the easiest to dye.

I chose to use Jacquard’s iDye in Chestnut, as I liked the colour and it was the closest thing I could get to naturally dyeing in a washing machine (I don’t have any pots nearly big enough for the fabric to dye it on my hob!) It has a bit of a purple hue to it, which I wasn’t really expecting though I actually quite like. I was a little worried at first though, as I’d already bought my thread in a copper tone, but I needn’t have worried at all – the two colours go together really quite nicely!

Chestnut brown fabric and copper thread go quite nicely together
Chestnut brown fabric and copper thread go quite nicely together

Because the fabric was 2.1m wide, I decided to cut everything across the grain rather than with it – and I almost have enough for another pair (though not quite), even though I only bought a 1m length. The fabric has just the right amount of stretch even though it has no elastane content – which is actually why I bought it, since elastane can’t be recycled at all (see my post on synthetic fibres for more details). I’ll probably turn the rest into a pair of shorts or cosy pyjama bottoms, possibly based off the Megan Nielsen Reef pattern.

I decided to use organic cotton thread for this project, since I was using organic cotton fabric, and actually I really liked the thread. I usually use Gütermann, as my machine is a bit picky with which threads it will allow to run through it, but the Scanfil thread I bought went through it like a dream! As I’d already made this decision, I also went with natural rubber elastic rather than standard elastic for the rear waistband. This is slightly more stretchy than regular elastic, so I could have used probably 5cm less than the pattern states – I’ve still got 3/4m of it left though, so I’ll be sure to make it last! It’s not as cheap as regular elastic, but well worth the experiment.

My finished Ruri Sweatpants from Named Clothing
Quite pleased with my finished Ruri sweatpants - they're super comfy!

Staying organised to stay inspired

Despite having written a post on how to be more organised with sewing projects, I still found things that I hadn’t planned for. Firstly, I didn’t buy enough thread again, so I had to wait for more. Secondly, I didn’t realise that to install my snaps, I would need a specialised tool specifically designed for this purpose. If I’d planned for these things, I could have easily finished my trousers in a day. Waiting for these extended that by over a week. It’s not been an issue though – because I’ve been working on my filmmaking business and gearing up to launch The Haberdasher Bee shop, I haven’t really noticed the time I’ve been waiting for things to arrive. I did have enough foresight to order some bits for my next couple of projects at the same time though, so at least I can get those going.

I’ve also been working on a new crochet project, mostly in the evenings after work, which has been quite fun. I can’t say too much about it, as it’s a gift – I’ve started early on the Christmas gift making as this is a pattern that’s graded way above my current skill level and I wasn’t sure how long it would take to make. I find it interesting how designers grade patterns in terms of skill level though; this pattern is an intermediate level one, which by all rights I shouldn’t be attempting to make right now as a beginner crocheter, but once I learned the stitch I’ve found it quite straightforward to make.

From sewing inspiration to crochet

I’ve said in previous posts that I loved watching Moara Crochet‘s videos on her soap saver and face scrubbies patterns, as I could see exactly what I was supposed to be doing. Sadly, not everyone does videos, especially yarn companies. I couldn’t find any video examples of this pattern – or even any photos shared by others who had made it – so I had to learn the stitch from a generic stitch tutorial on YouTube. There are several more patterns I have which are just like this too. I’ve therefore decided that I’ll make videos showing exactly how to make items from these patterns – I am a filmmaker by trade after all, so I already have all the kit and knowledge needed to start a YouTube channel. I’m planning on making a second item from this pattern once I finish the first anyway (also as a gift, for a different person), so it seems like a good place to start.

Cotton yarn in white, yellow and caramel
I can't show you what I'm working on yet, so here's the yarn I'm using instead!

My new craft inspiration... dyeing!

I’ve also done some more natural dyeing. I like how experimental it is, though it can be disappointing when things don’t turn out like you hoped or expected. Equally, sometimes it can be really exciting when things don’t turn out the way you thought – who knew you can get a bright, sunny yellow from purple buddleja flowers?! It does take up some time having to babysit the pot to make sure it doesn’t boil over though, which is part of the reason I haven’t done that much dyeing over the past few months. I do have a few projects earmarked as Christmas gifts which involve natural dyes though, so I’ll be making sure I get them dyed and made in time.

I’m yet to play with indigo dyeing and I’m quite looking forward to it, in a nervously-excited sort of way. Indigo is perhaps the most well known natural dye, but you can do all sorts with it, depending on how long you dip it in the dye for and how many times you dip it. Lighter shades are dipped for shorter times and fewer dips, while deeper shades take longer and more dips. I would love to create an ombre effect using yarn that’s been dyed differently with indigo – in fact I already have a Christmas gift in mind which I could do this with, I just need to get the yarn (and indigo) and do it!

Hopefully next month’s makes post should be more varied, as I’ve got several projects lined up (plus I still need to finish my sewing machine bag). But even though I’ve not had chance to make much, I’ve still been able to make some time to sew and crochet. I think it’s just about using time I would otherwise potentially waste – time sat in front of Netflix or mindlessly surfing social media can always be put to much better use! I’m getting better at using my evenings more productively though, and a few of my next projects are reasonably quick makes, so I should start to find juggling work and making much easier (at least, I hope I will!).