Tag Archives: Tilly & the Buttons

Brigitte and Tonic

19 May

A rare sighting of the shade-loving Panda in sunshine

Boo!

Today, I seized the moment and got him indoors to photograph me outdoors. Outside our office to be precise. Seeing as we work together, the sun was shining, and our office is a four minute walk from our house, it seemed like a good idea.

Friday night saw me whizz up a Brigitte scarf from Tilly Button’s book, Love At First Stitch. This book richly deserves all the accolades that it has garnered: it’s well written, beautifully styled, full of properly helpful sewing information, and some fab-u-lous patterns. When I was “saved” by sewing last summer, Mathilde was the first pattern I made and since then, I’ve made all of Tilly’s patterns to date. I thought I might as well start with Brigitte as I’m rather partial to a head scarf, as they cover a multitude of bad hair sins, and as evidence from my college library card shows, I’ve been wearing head scarves and plaid shirts my whole life.  The scarf is straight forward to construct (of course it is!) but, you know, it’s really nice to have a scarf to wear in a print that you’ve chosen and that goes with loads of things in your wardrobe.

Close-up of Brigitte hiding the seam lines of my wig

Close-up of Brigitte hiding the seam lines of my wig

Having been in our office on my own last week all on my lonesome, I took the opportunity to utilise the large flat table in our meeting room in order to cut out some rather lovely fabric I’d bought to make the Tonic Tee by Skinny Bitch Curvy Chick (SBCC). I’d chosen a rather gorgeous grey and navy striped jersey from Guthrie & Ghani at £4.75 per half metre. The pattern was rather generously available free of charge, and needed only a metre of fabric so less than £10 for an organic cotton t-shirt seems a pretty good price to me. IMG_2646

The office table was good value and enabled me to release my inner OCD and match my stripes like a zealot during my lunch time. Did zealots match stripes? This one did. I am now planning a hostile takeover of the meeting room for my own sewing purposes, armed with a pair of Fiskars and some shearing elastic.

Ta-dah! Stripes that match!

Ta-dah! Stripes that match!

The inspiration behind my Tonic Tee was the ethereal sewing goddess known as Christine Haynes. She wrote a fab tutorial for drafting a Peter Pan collar for the Tonic Tee that you can find here. Everything was awesome. Everything was cool as me and the table worked as a team. The construction of the Tee probably took me about three and a half hours and everything worked. This is my favourite item of 2014 so far. I love it. I encourage you to make one too. With a collar. You know you want to. I am a stripey Tonic Christine zealot and it’s made me very happy. I made something I love to wear.

The zealot pose

The zealot pose

And of course, spurred on by success, I naturally returned to SBCC to buy another pattern, the Mimosa Blouse – which is exactly how it should work, when they’re kind enough to share their stuff for free.

Last Saturday, I managed to overcome various different anxieties/phobias/navigational challenges and head off to the vast gathering that was #NYlon2014. There I met some truly lovely women and hopefully began some new friendships – special mentions to Caroline of CJ Made and Janet at Kitchen Table Sewing – and bought enough fabric to make a Mimosa blouse and plenty more. Being part of the sewing community really does give you so much.

For a long time, I regularly guest blogged for my husband’s music blog, Mad Mackerel. This song was the school anthem for 2012 and it came to mind when I was thinking about how much I dislike having my photo taken for this blog! It’s actually a very funny indie punk song by The Lovely Eggs and my children (and lots of others) LOVED it! Don’t be put off by the cover, it’s expletive free, but there’s plenty of scope for some improv dancing. By child number 2 I’d had enough of ‘Wind the [bloody] Bobbin Up’ and ‘The Wheels on the Bus’, so number 3 just got stuff like this 🙂

Enjoy!

 

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I Should Coco

9 Mar

IMG_2585Yes, let’s bring a little Supergrass to this sunny Sunday afternoon as I welcome the arrival of my first Coco. Note that, my first. Yes, because I will surely have to make another not least because I love the pattern (as I have done all Tilly patterns) but because of the sewing gremlins that beset this much looked forward to project. (Note the blame of the imaginary third party, obviously no room for Panda error…)

Having sewn no less than three other garments with knits (Lady Skater one, Lady Skater two and the Aslan Plantain) since January, I felt hot to trot in sewing terms. The pattern and instructions is nothing less than top drawer and entirely what I’d expect from Tilly: this is a woman who talks my language, pattern-wise, and presents the step-by-step instructions clearly with beautifully shot photos (and a glorious red manicure) to match.

There’s been a sewalong on her website to accompany the release of the pattern, together with various different posts offering advice on sourcing fabric and sewing with knits for newbies. She really has thought of everything. Frankly, the only thing she appeared not to cover was the evil weevil that escaped from the bottle once I opened the pattern, or should I say the fabric.

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I bought my fabric from Tissu Fabrics, a navy cotton jersey interlock as recommended, and it seemed perfect, but I think the problems began when I washed it. As Tilly points out, dry your fabric flat. FLAT. FLAT. FLAT. Roll it in a towel, lay it on the table, just make sure it’s flat. I didn’t. I hung it up. It stretched and distorted and although I continued my Coco in a belligerent and cautiously optimistic fashion, I knew I was chancing my arm. Learn from my mistakes.

Construction wise, a straight size 3 was cut and I slimmed the sleeve down as per the recommendations of other more competent sewing ninjas than I. I love the funnel neck style and 3/4 length sleeves, I’m just sorely disappointed with my efforts.

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If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands

You can see by the way it hangs on the delighted Lady Moo that all is not Coco. Still it could have looked a lot worse. This will be my working toile or maybe toil?  Threads kept snapping on my sewing machine in twin needle mode for weevil knows why, causing me to unpick and unpick and stretch the hem despite the Wundaweb I used to stabilise it.  Why did the thread keep snapping? Why? Why?

I fully intend to Coco again, perhaps with a heavier, more stable fabric (ponte knit anyone?), and will sew armed with a Nerf gun to shoot the sewing weevil down in its tracks. You can’t say I haven’t warned him. Bar steward.

I’ll be back 😉

The Slow Dog of Sewing

10 Nov

When my children were much smaller, some of our favourite books to share were the Fast Fox, Slow Dog series by Allan Ahlberg and Andre Amstutz. They are lovely stories to read with great amusement value for parents too: Fast Fox desperately trying to capture the chicks from Mother Hen, while constantly being foiled by his unwitting adversary, Slow Dog. Slow Dog is as he sounds: slow and ponderous in movement and thought. He always wins through in the end, but always by happy accident. Slow Dog became a gentle, tongue-in-cheek rebuke between us grown-ups; to be a ‘slow dog’ meant c’mon, wake-up, make it happen, you dozy doughnut! Thus, for the time being, I must label myself the Slow Dog of sewing and blogging…

A spot of measuring by the Prince of Siberia

A spot of measuring by the Prince of Siberia

Started well, fell away at the second. Hmm, well can’t exactly shoulder all the blame. In the world of charidee copywriting, this be the busiest time of the year and we are a teeny tiny set-up (just the three of us, unless someone small’s hiding behind the photocopier). Anyway, the stuff that pays the bills has had to take priority over the stuff I’d rather be doing, particularly of late. After the successful completion of a Mathilde blouse, I’d moved on to the Miette skirt, another of Tilly‘s creations. I’d purchased some lovely dark grey/black organic medium weight cotton from Ray Stitch and was keen to get started. This should be easy peasey I thought, seeing as I’ve completed the Mathilde without a hitch and that’s the more complex pattern. Complacency and haste are the enemy of the Panda sewing. Chuck in my worst client in living memory, and it became a somewhat fraught affair.

Still, I’m pretty pleased with the end result, as I managed to regain my sewing mojo, slow down and proceed at a steady canter towards the finishing line. This was beautiful material to sew with even for my inexperienced hands. I was too lazy to change the thread on the overlocker and couldn’t afford the time to trug to my nearest haberdashery, a twenty minute drive away. Actually I really like the end result: the white serged edges on her dark materials. It’s always pleasing to see the inside looking as average as the outside. I like a good – or even mediocre – finish. The hem may have a discrepancy of about 1/2 inch in some places that seems to match the 1/2 stone I’ve managed to gain for the first time in eight years, but hopefully the advent of time and a reduction in my biscuit and cheese consumption may mean that the skirt hangs a little better. The pattern is quite forgiving and I’d certainly like to make another come the Spring.

Serger mess...

Serger mess…

Once again, another master stroke from Tilly in the instruction department: there’s the simple pointers that come with the download but there are also more detailed step-by-step cues on the website, together with photos. If you’re a visual learner, and I believe I am, these are a god-send.

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My big lesson learned this time through was never sew when raging about the day job. It puckers your stitching and mismatches your seams. Hey ho. Anyway, next up is the Anna dress from By Hand of London. I’m going to make a toile, and I’m going to line it. Whoaa there! Easy girl! I may be some time…

‘He’s going the distance
He’s going for speed
She’s all alone
In her time of need.’

Welcome Mathilde: I’ve been expecting you

23 Oct

Hey there, I’m the Panda that sews. Let’s give me a capital letter as I am a proper noun, just a bit shy really. I do other things too, but maybe later.

First out of the stalls on my sewing voyage of discovery is a Tilly & the Buttons pattern that I rather stupidly read as a beginner pattern: hi there Mathilde. Wrong: Mathilde is not a beginner, she’s intermediate, unlike me. Actually it’s her sister Miette I should have gone for, but she’s happily now also in my possession, and I’m waiting for the arrival of a parcel from Ray Stitch to get busy. All hail Tilly for enticing me into the wonderful world of sewing once again and leading me down the garden path to a whole world of fabric fun.

MathildeI followed the fabulous online instructions on Tilly’s website to the LETTER for Mathilde, and I’m feeling just a bit pleased with myself that it all worked and actually seems to fit. I’ve even been out in it. Albeit in the dark and to a friend’s house five minutes walk away. Still little steps. Mathilde is made in a Michael Miller fabric, Hawthorn Blossom, bought from the lovely lasses at Bedecked in Powys. Of course I bought it online; I can’t go shopping in my panda mask now can I?

My sewing vocab increases daily. I am now building a stash, quietly and secretly. (Previously I thought a stash was family silver hidden from granny, ready to sell to fund some ne’er do well Med cruise. Hey ho.) I now have an invisible zipper, a foot to go with, and some basic know-how in how to marry the two.

Mathilde2It’s a jolly good job I decided to ‘rediscover’ sewing with Google and his mates, otherwise I think I’d be lost. Yep, little steps.

Oops, here we go… I knew there was a song in there somewhere.

‘Something good tonight made me forget about you for now.’