100 Day Project

100 Day Project completed

One of my achievements in 2020 was completing the 100 day project.

The 100 Day Project is a challenge I had my eye on for a few years, but while the UK was in lockdown, it seemed the best opportunity I would get to complete it, particularly when I intended to use the sewing machine.

As the project pans over 3.5 months, it tends to be best to pick a challenge which you can achieve no matter your travel plans.  Naturally, lockdown removed this potential issue!  While I don’t travel on holiday much, I do normally visit relatives, and they all live a decent distance away.  I don’t usually pack a sewing machine unless an intentional sewing weekend has been planned!

Free machine embroidery is something I learned at my local adult education centre here in Cornwall.  I was drawn to stitching animals during this introduction.  Nevertheless, I had never concentrated too much on this theme beyond the odd birthday card.

 

100 day project - Day 24 Giraffe
Hundred Day Project - Day 94 Red Panda

What I learned from The 100 Day Project

Despite being really challenging, it was worth learning the following:

  • If you show up every day and spend 30 minutes on a project, it builds up into something substantial
  • If you repeat something regularly, you become more confident and knowledgeable in what you are doing (e.g. for me in this challenge – have I added enough detail on the animal? By the end, I queried this a lot less)
  • Just start.  Some days, I dragged my heels and other days I woke up and got on with it.  The animal was still completed but I saved much more time when I got on with it.
  • Some days you won’t want to show up.  There were days when I wondered why I was adding this project to my list at a particularly challenging time.  However, this feeling did not last long, and it was the best year to complete the challenge.
  • Make time to do what you enjoy.  Since the project, I took a break from free machine embroidery and sewing in general.  However, I see how valuable taking the time to craft is in my day and how it boosts other areas of my life such as work and family.  It is important to have different areas of your life to focus on so that when things are challenging or not working out in one remit, you have the others the bolster you.
Machine Embroidery Sea Turtle

Planning and Preparation

I knew that one of the potential pitfalls of the challenge was getting caught up in which animal to create each day, and making sure I did not repeat them.  Therefore, I did some research in advance, selected 100 animals and wrote them down on scrap pieces of paper, folded them up and popped them in a box.

I had wanted to research all the animals in advance as well to save time on the day, but I ran out of time, and in a way, doing the research bit by bit helped to make the challenge more manageable.

Day by Day: learning and evolving

It is worth noting that while completing the project, I had a couple of other priorities:

  • Starting a new job
  • Finishing two adult education courses

While I was saving time not having to commute to work, I was adapting to a new role and trying to complete work on a couple of classes I started.  I found it easiest to complete the challenge early in the morning, aiming to complete most of it before I began work, and finishing off the rest after I finished work.  I had added the extra challenge of recording all the animals and posting a video on Youtube, which made it more time intensive.  However, some days, I managed to research the animal, stitch it, photograph, edit the footage and schedule all before work, which was a great accomplishment.

Hundred Day Project - Day 92 Peacock
Hundred Day Project - Day 43 Lobster
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Pattern Review: Bertha Cardigan

Recently, I received the latest Tilly and the Buttons book – Make it Simple – as a gift.  here is my first make from it!

Details

Pattern Details:

  • Name: Bertha
  • Variation: Original without additions/hacks
  • Pattern House: Tilly and the Buttons
  • Size I made: 4

Fabric

This red drapey single knit fabric is from my stash and was meant for my nan’s Kinder cardigna, but I cut into the wrong fabric for that.  It has a clear right and wrong side.  It was tricky to cut out as it was hard to lay out on the table to cut.  I had to cut a couple of pieces twice as I hadn’t laid the fabric out straight first time.  However, the fabric feels nice and looks smart.

Difficulty

The pattern is straight forward and simple.  It’s suitable for a beginner but has a few pattern pieces and is in knit fabric.  I made mine completely on the overlocker – minus the final stage where you secure the neckband hem to the hem band.  I followed the batching checklist which is designed to be a faster method of working but looked at the more detailed instructions when I needed clarification on any point.

Clarity

I didn’t struggle with any aspect of the instructions and found the checklist worked well with how I like to work.

Design and Fit

As intended, Bertha is loose fit in style to avoid excessive time on adjusting it to fit.  I would consider lengthening the sleeves next time as I’m only just comfortable with this length on me – but this is personal preference (technically they are long enough!)

I chose to avoid pockets on this occasion as I felt this fabric would look nicer without and made it look smarter if used for work.

Time Taken

I was very interested to track the time it took as the book does give guidance on this.

For cutting time it advises it will take around 40 minutes, but it took me about an hour – but I did go wrong and I am a slow cutter.

For sewing/construction time, it advises 1 hour 35 minutes.  It look me 2 hours 20 minutes.

The guide times are like those you get in a recipe book where it is just a guide and it may be that you are faster second time round.  I do think I may have been a bit speedier if I had been a bit more organised though!

Conclusion

A very fast make, and definitely possible to make in an afternoon.  I’m very happy with it and can’t wait to try out more patterns from the book.

You can watch my related video on this make below:

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Pattern Review: Butterick 5189 Dressing Gown

Recently I made another of my planned makes for #2020make nine – the dressing gown – as a gift.

Details

  • Pattern Name: 6232
  • Variation/style: Dressing Gown
  • Design House: Butterick
  • Size I made: L

Fabric

The main fabric is a polyester brocade and the lining is a red terry cloth.  The brocade is woven and the terry cloth is knit fabric.  Both are from Fabricland.

Using a knit and woven was quite challenging as they act very differently to one another, and I would recommend to avoid using them together in a project like this if possible.  The terry cloth was happy to stretch away and the blocade was slippery.  However, I could not find a towelling fabric I liked and the terry cloth matched the brocade nicely.

Difficulty

I’d say this is good for a confident beginner pattern-wise but it does depend on the fabric choice.  If you use towelling, there is a nap to it to consider (direction of the fabric) and it can be quite thick to sew as well, which can create its own challenges.

However, there are no challenging zips or fastenings.  The patch pocket and amount of top stitching may be tricky, but also may not show too much depending on your fabric choice.

Clarity

I found the instructions lovely and clear apart from on how to hem the garment.  I ended up leveling off the hem first, then pressing/tacking the hem allowance up, then tacking the lining and main sides together before slip stitching together and finishing off with top stitching.

Design and Fit

It is a relaxed fit so the fit was not too challenging.  The main issue has been the hem without the recipient to hand (as it is a gift).  I love the idea that it could be reversible.  The collar adds definition and the pockets are roomy.  It doesn’t have tabs to secure the tie which is a shame, but fairly easy to rectify.  It is also difficult to position until you try it on as well to get the position correct.  If I ever come across this pattern in my own size, I would be very tempted to make one for myself. (my copy is only L/XL).

Time Taken

I made this over three weeks, but it could be done in a few days or quicker with easier fabrics.

Conclusion

I’ve definitely got my money’s worth with this pattern now.  It was a charity shop find to begin with but I have made the PJ shorts a couple of times (which are great too) and this dressing gown was simple to follow and looks great.  I would recommend it, and would make it again.

You can watch my video review below:

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Mend it! Adding a blind hem to a dress

One of my 2020 goals is to get through my mending pile and fix items as I go along.  I finally got round to my first project, which was to mend a tunic dress I bought years ago.  The hem stitching had come away on the majority of it so I had not worn it for a while.  It was time to resolve the issue.

Details

  • Garment: Tunic dress (shop bought)
  • Fabric type: Knit (quite stable)
  • Problem: hem needs restitching
  • Solution: Blind hem to match original hem appearance
  • Resources required: Blind hem foot (optional), matching thread

On my machine (Toyota Super Jeans 34) the stitch to use for stretch blind hems is stitch 9.  If I wanted a blind hem, I would use stitch 7 instead.  Both stitches allow you to create a hem which is still machine sewn but avoids an obvious line of stitching, which is great for certain projects where this line of stitching would spoil the appearance.

This is the first time I have tried out this hemming method, and I was impressed with the result.  Fortunately, this fabric is so busy that it is very forgiving, but I will need to be much more careful and accurate on a less forgiving one!

Conclusion

I’m really pleased I finally mended this dress as I learned a new way to hem along the way.

You can watch more about this mending project and how to create your own blind hem on the vlog:

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Pattern Review: New Look 6232 women’s shirt

Recently I finished my biggest sewing accomplishment to date: the fitted shirt!

Details

  • Pattern Name: 6232
  • Variation/style: women’s version, C
  • Design House: New Look
  • Size I made: 14

Fabric

Main fabric: butterfly cotton poplin fabric in aqua from Minerva Crafts online

Contrast fabric: Yellow cotton poplin fabric from Truro fabrics

Both fabrics were lovely to work with, along with washing and pressing well.

Difficulty

This was a challenging make.  I have never made a garment that is quite so technical.  However, I did choose it for that very reason as well!

There is a lot of interfacing to attach (cuffs, collar..), darts on the front and back, sleeve plackets, curved hem, buttonholes, pleats, front band – essentially jam-packed with techniques and skills!  However, the fabric choice did make it easier as it is so stable!  Also, I think choosing a patterned fabric is more forgiving than plain for any wobbly stitching.

Clarity

The clarity of the pattern was okay overall.  As it is not an indie pattern, it is not as detailed, but the diagrams are clear.

The instructions do assume some prior knowledge.  For example, it does not advise you on how to ease the sleeve into the armhole; it just tells you to stitch it.

I was nervous about attaching the sleeve placket but I carefully followed the instructions and succeeded so where it does provide detailed instructions, it does it well.

Design and Fit

I did take an inch off the sides but I’m not sure this was necessary or whether it may have been better to take half as much.  I may take less off next time.

Apart from that, I did not adjust.  The sleeves are a good length for me but I do have quite long arms.  I am not happy with my front band.  I think I need to re-sew a couple of buttons so it overlaps better and I think I misaligned the top buttonhole but I can’t do much about that now.  I did re-sew the top button to minimise any gape between the top and second button.

I chose this pattern to tackle some classic shirt details such as the collar with button stand, cuffs, sleeve placket, front band and patch pockets.  It is packed with features including pleats in the sleeves.  It is a great classic shirt design.

Time Taken

It took me about 3 and a half months to complete this shirt as I took my time to gradually create it.  It took 3.5 hours to cut out all the pattern pieces alone!  There are a lot of small tasks so if you are looking for a long term project to tackle in small time windows then this could be the pattern for you.

Conclusion

This is the most technical make I have made to date and for that I am very pleased with it, and can set aside my discontent with the top buttonhole.  I am not sure if I would make another as I’m not a huge shirt wearer, but I did enjoy the techniques involved in it so perhaps Phill will finally get the shirt he requested 7 years ago…

 

You can watch my pattern review on the vlog below:

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5 Ideas for quick sewing gifts (all free patterns/tutorials)

I love to make a gift for my nearest and dearest, and while I start with huge ambitious plans, I’m normally grappling with time.  Here are a few ideas if you find yourself wanting to make gifts but needing some faster options.

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Make a mini Christmas Brooch!

Fancy something to wear to get in the festive spirit but need something that will go with your pinafore or is less obvious than a festive jumper?  A little Christmas brooch may be the answer.

What you need:

  • Download the template for this make here
  • Cardboard for the middle section (to improve the structure, but you could leave this out if not available)
  • Felt scraps in the colours of your choice
  • Embroidery thread in the colours of your choice
  • Brooch back
  • Scrap length of yarn if making the bauble design
  • Double sided tape
  • Bondaweb scrap (optional)
  • Interfacing (optional)
  • Paper scissors
  • Fabric scissors
  • Darning needle
  • Sewing machine if you want to add decoration on the sewing machine

1. Draw out the main pieces of your design onto the interfacing if using and attach to the felt (or draw directly onto the felt if not using interfacing) and cut out

For the stocking design, you will need to ensure that you cut one on the reverse side if using the interfacing.

Attach to the interfacing by placing the shiny side of the interfacing on the felt so that the non-shiny side is facing upwards.  Press with an iron until it attaches.

If you are not using interfacing, you can trace the design straight onto the fabric and then cut out.

If you want to embellish on the machine, do this before cutting the shape out of felt as it will be much easier!

2. Attach the bauble top or stocking brim

I used interfacing to trace the shape and then attach to the main front piece, but you could just place on top and then sew in place.

Here, my partner used a straight running stitch to attach the bottom of the brim of the stocking, but you could choose a hand embroidery stitch of your choice.  I used back stitch.

3. If you are adding any embellishment using hand embroidery, add this now to the front piece

On the blue bauble I made, I added some cross stitch shapes and running stitch to add a bit of detail in both orange and white thread.  I used two strands of embroidery thread doubled (4 in total) – see the video for more about this.

4. Add the brooch attachment to the back piece

Secure the brooch piece on the back piece in the top third of the shape securely with some thread.

5. Add the cardboard middle, if using

I like using the cardboard middle to give the brooch a firmer shape and used some packaging rubbish for this.

Trace the shape of the middle piece onto the cardboard and cut it out.  Next, attach right in the middle of the wrong side of the front piece with some of the double sided tape.  This will help prevent it from moving when you stitch around the edges.  Attach the back piece in the same way with double sided tape, by placing the piece over the front piece, wrong sides together.

6. Stitch around the edge - and add a yarn loop to the bauble design

You can choose your preferred stitch for the border.  In the video below, Phill and I both used blanket stitch, but in the one I made with free machine embroidery decoration, I used chain stitch.

Finally, for the bauble design, I secured a small length of yarn in the desired colour to the top back of the shape.

Watch it on the Vlog!

You can watch Phill and I make these in the video below:

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