Tuesday, 22 April 2014

I Got Nominated for a Liebster!

I've only just clocked that Rachel from 'Is It Fitting?' has nominated me for a Liebster! I'm so flattered I actually blushed when I found out. Thanks Rachel!

Funnily enough Rachel's post which nominates me starts with a thought about apologising (or not) for the occasional unplanned blogging break. Although I agree it's somehow weird to apologise when you're only really holding yourself up to your own standards, I have to confess I feel a bit daft not having seen the nomination 'til now, because I haven't managed to post for a couple of weeks...! Plus I'm gutted not to have finished anything in time to catch the glorious cherry blossom in any 'handmade update' photos. Oh well- I will have finished my Sew La-Di-Da Sweetheart Dress soon, hopefully! 

My blog is for me primarily a record of my creative output, and hopefully a means of meeting other likeminded people. I've only been blogging for a few months and still quite a slow sewist so I'm not the most prolific blogger, as I usually only post once something is finished (and when I can get someone to take a decent photo) but it's nice to know that some people enjoy reading what I do manage to put out there! I certainly enjoy seeing other people's projects and finding out about the new patterns out there- and getting inspired by the amazing pattern hacks that people come up with. 

Anyway, to the Liebsters... As far as I understand from seeing them doing the rounds on other people's blogs they're a way of showing appreciation for lesser-known bloggers by nominating people whose blogs you admire and getting them to answer a set of questions. The folks you nominate then have to carry on the process and shine the spotlight on other new and lesser-known bloggers that they appreciate. Lesser-known means 200 or fewer followers-  I'm also using Bloglovin's stats so please don't be offended if your blog is mentioned and you have more followers than I've given you credit for! I've not been blogging for long so am still discovering blogs to read, and this Liebster thing is proving very useful in finding them actually.

I'm following Rachel's Liebster template here by nominating 11 bloggers, giving 11 facts about myself and setting 11 questions for my nominees. 

First off, here are my answers to Rachel's questions:

1. Where is your favourite place?
I don't have a specific favourite location- but anywhere beautiful, natural and a bit wild. I was blown away all over again by the beauty of the view from Richmond Hill over the Bank Holiday weekend. But I also love cities- I'd love to go back again and again to Barcelona or Berlin.
2. If you could have a personal chef or a personal stylist (who could also help out in the sewing room), which would you chose?
Tough question! Probably a personal stylist. I love food but have endless appreciation for getting dressed up, and I need all the help in the sewing room I can get!
3. What is the most inappropriate/ridiculous outfit you have ever worn?
Another tough question. My love of dressing up is sometimes ill-judged. I did have a meeting with the CEO of the company I work for the other day in a self-made lion costume (from my burlesque costume trunk, with some modesty modifications). It was a World Book Day outfit is my excuse, but realistically I probably had time to change!
4. What is your favourite movie genre?
Another toughie. I work in cinema exhibition so I love loads of different kinds of film, but have a soft spot for the colourful melodrama of Almodovar.
5. What is the most you have ever spent on a single piece of fabric (and have you used it yet?)
Not much! I'm still beginning so hedging my bets so far as none of my finished projects has been perfect yet and my machine is a cranky old fabric eating monster (although I just cleaned and oiled it so fingers crossed it will be better behaved from now on). I spent £7 a metre on the Pharmaceutical Newsprint fabric I made my first Elisalex out of, that's the most so far!
6. Who is your favourite Doctor Who?
Can I confess I don't watch Dr Who? I love Peter Capaldi though, so I'm sure he's cracking in the role. 
7. Is there anything you would love to make, but just can’t pluck up the courage?
I will get around to everything eventually! I have inherited a beautiful vintage pattern stash that's in storage which (if I recall properly) includes some 1930s gowns. Once I have the skills I'd love to make them all! I really need to get fitting and pattern adaptation right first though. 
8. Dogs or cats?
Other people's dogs are brilliant (my manager's 'Staffador' Daisy is a joy to have in the office, resting her head on my feet), but I love living with my characterful cats Muriel and Sasha. 
9. Which parent or family member are you most like?
Probably my mother. She's been a big craft inspiration, also loves dressing up, and is a terrible enabler to go shopping with. 
10. How many hats do you own?
Countless! In the same house clearance that I got all the vintage patterns from I also got some wonderful hats. I'll have to blog them soon, they need to be seen! Here's a snap of one below taken on my birthday last year. Sadly as I cycle most of the time I don't really wear hats as much as I'd like, as they're impractical to carry. Maybe I should get a pannier hatbox?

11. If the world as we know it were to end, do you feel more prepared for a) a zombie apocalypse, b) the Rise of the Machines (bow down to your robot masters!)?
The Rise of the Machines feels like it's upon us already... 

Here are my 11 facts about myself...in no particular order

1. I'm a lifelong vegetarian (alright, technically a pescatarian), and have never intentionally eaten meat.
2. I'm in a Burlesque troupe called the Salacious Sirens! It's a lot of fun and a good excuse to gain skills making ridiculous frocks. 
3. My Burlesque alter ego is Ottolie Divine. 
4. My other alter ego is Ron Rotten. Ron comes from Ronile- my name backwards. 
5. When I was very small I wanted to grow up to be a dog, and made my bed into a kennel for a while. 
6. Puedo hablar Espanol, pues un pocito! (I can speak a little bit of Spanish. Still learning though! Good Spanish book recommendations welcome)
7. I cycle between 30 mins and 3 hours a day all over London, depending on where I'm working that day.
8. I love trashy detective dramas and books. In fact if anyone knows any Spanish language trashy detective books I will feel less guilty about my passion for reading them!
9. Bettie Page is my style icon, which leads me to 10...
10. I cut my own fringe to try and get that Bettie look. It doesn't always go well.
11. I have a pair of Doc Martens for every day of the week.
Who do I nominate? 

Annette Tirette
Dandelion Drift
Sewing Pies
Foxgloves and Thimbles
Lazy Seamstress
Disaster in A Dress
Vintage Belle
The DIY Fox
Full-Time Vixen
Strange Notions

Nominees, here are your questions...

1. What's your favourite pattern?
2. What's your biggest sewing challenge?
3. Who is your style icon?
4. Who's your favourite fashion designer?
5. What other creative/ crafty hobbies do you have?
6. What's your guilty reading/ watching/ listening pleasure?
7. What is your favourite painting?
8. Would you rather sky dive or scuba dive?
9. Do you have a piece of clothing (handmade or otherwise) that brings you really good memories/ giggles?
10. What's your funniest/ cringiest wardrobe malfunction?
11. If you could travel through time, which time period would you most like to visit?

Well, I think that's quite enough from me for now. Thanks again Rachel for the nomination, and I find out lots of new bloggers to follow branching off from my nominees!

Until next time,

NorseOtter xxx

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Chewed-Up Plantain (a wearable toile)

Hello folks! This is just a quick one as I haven't posted in a while, but have a completed garment that I haven't made time to photograph yet. This is the Plantain t-shirt from Deer & Doe- my first foray into jersey made easier by the fact that the pattern is free- you can download it here. See if you can avoid also adding all the pretty day dresses into your virtual cart. I've held out so far, only because I have a fair old stash of patterns to have a go at, but I don't think it will be for long!

So, the Plantain. As I'm a beginner with jersey and was making up on a regular sewing machine (and an old tetchy one at that which I should probably get round to servicing) I did have a few issues. Despite using up a heck of a lot of excess jersey and thread testing and retesting stitches, needle size and tension my machine still managed to skip stitches on a few of my seams and chew up my hem when I had a go with the twin needle. Extremely frustrating as I would fine tune everything using my testing scraps, then a few cm into the hem the machine would play up. I ended up zig-zagging the front hem after my twin-needling on the back got too messy.

Here's my machine, inherited from my Gran. I guess from the colourscheme it's from the 60s or 70s maybe?

And here's its foot- held together with a nail case as the original bolt is missing, and as it's plastic can't be replaced. This makes my machine a little unpredictable- sometimes it carries on stitching even when I've taken my foot off!
 If anyone knows what I was doing wrong please tell me! I had quite a bit of online help from Tilly's sewalong tutorial for the lovely Coco pattern (which once I've run down my pattern backlog a bit I plan to have a go at, as it's a great stylish basic which has lots of room for adaptation) but I guess I really needed someone with me to spot my mistakes and help troubleshoot! Hence the 'Chewed-Up Plantain', which is really a wearable toile. No reflection on the pattern itself! 

I made up a size 12, traced up to 14 at the bust but accidentally down to a 12 again at the neckline. It seems to fit pretty well and is great for just throwing on to wear for lounging around. I'm sure it will be relegated down to pyjamas as soon as I can get my machine to play ball enough to make another, which is a testament to its comfort factor! It's such a wearable design with a forgiving and elegant drape to it. I plan to make another improved version of my first, and try a short-sleeved too, as it's such a nice basic and quick to come together. 

The instructions were fairly simple to follow- but as an absolute newbie to this I don't think I attached the neckline quite right (my seam at the back of the neck that holds the neckband together shows, so I think there must have been a fabric reversing step at some point that I missed...) and there are points where it's not super-clear whether you're supposed to be sewing on the right side of the fabric or not. But I'm sure anyone who isn't a complete novice would work this out, and in fact apart from the neckband mine turned out fine (except that my elbow patches are fractionally too high as I had to sew in the sleeves a bit higher when trying to cover up a notch at the shoulder that I cut too far in, d'oh!). I made this up in two evenings after work so for a more experienced sewist it wouldn't take longer than an hour or so. 

Unfortunately as I don't really know yet how to make my next jersey project come out without all the stitching glitches I'm going to park my plans for a new Plantain, or a Lady Skater, or even a Coco for the time being until I have the patience to really work out where I'm going wrong! Or until I get my mitts on the Bernina sewing machine that I scored in my boyfriend's gran's house clearance that's in storage. 

Happily for me I have a ton of patterns to have a go at that don't involve knit fabrics and I'm already stuck into a new project - a daring broderie anglaise version of the Sweetheart dress by Sew La-Di-Da so will have something new to post up soon!

What are you working on? Any and all tips for troubleshooting when sewing with knit fabric appreciated! 

NorseOtter xxx