Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Thrifted pillowcase to baby blanket mark 2

This is now my second thrifted pillowcase to baby blanket sewing project.  You can see my first one (including vintage Winnie the Pooh print!) over here.  These are so quick and simple to sew, perfect for newborns since cotton and fleece are easy to machine wash and quick to dry.  Since this is a blog about thrift as well, I have no qualms in admitting that these babies are cheap as well.  You can buy a second-hand pillow case for around 99p and the fleece blankets I've been using are Ikea-via-a-friend who emigrated and bequeathed me a lot of her things she couldn't take with.  You can buy an Ikea fleece for around a fiver though and the material is enough for 2 baby blankets. Or check out charity shops for good condition second hand fleece blankets!  Just goes to show though, it's not how much a present cost, it's about how much time and love went into it that's important.  I love the recycling aspect as well, taking something that someone gave away to a charity shop and turning it into something pretty and useful.



This one features a cute floral pattern for a friend's newborn baby girl.  I love this pattern because it's delicately girly - it's not in-your-face BRIGHT PINK OHEMGEE THIS BABY IS A GIRL!! type material.  It also appeals to my love of granny-chic, ditsy floral, but again, it's not too over the top since Dad will have to be seen out with it as well. 


Still using the old 'Second Fiddle' labels, must get some cute new ones made up.  I'm going to go with my name this time, since I don't really make things to sell anymore (except for the gamer gauntlets, who have recently made me enough money to buy the equipment to make teacup candles!) but in the meantime, I like using these old labels, they give a more professional finish.


Another busy week flies by here at Chez Dyce-Taylor.  I'm looking forward to a quiet weekend of crafting!

Monday, 21 October 2013

Upcycled broken mugs to plantpots

When we got engaged, my friend Carolyn and her husband Owen gave us these lovely Rob Ryan mugs.  Unfortunately, somewhere between the shop, her house and me the handles got broken in the box.  Owen did a heroic repair with superglue but their time as functioning mugs had come to an end.


They were so pretty though, it seemed a shame for them to sit in a cupboard unused since they couldn't be trusted with hot liquids (wink!) anymore.  So instead I turned them into plantpots.  Some 99p succulents from Homebase and compost and gravel I already had in the flat and voila!  Crisis averted.


Several people have commented on them, saying how much they like the idea.  I'm thinking of making a few more out of teacups as house warming presents for people.  I've already got the teacups, compost and gravel and any excuse to browse the plants in Homebase is always welcome!


The crack on the handle that brought short a dazzling career.  That's why we love upcycling though, gives poor broken things a second chance.  There's a metaphor for life to be found somewhere in there...

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Enagagement photoshoot with Zoe Campbell

I'm warning you now, this isn't a majorly craft-filled post.  But I really wanted to share these here because, y'know, it's my blog and so what I says goes.  Haha!  There is a minor homemade element for the eagle-eyed among you, to be spotted in the photo below...


Image credit - Zoe Campbell

Andrew and I had an engagement photoshoot with the wonderful Zoe Campbell last week and honestly, I can't sing this dear lady's praises highly enough.  For two slightly awkward, hugely unphotogenic people, Zoe made the whole experience so relaxed and we're both so delighted with the results so far (we've only seen the sneak peeks!).  We took the dog to Longniddry Bents, one of our favourite places for dogwalking, thinking it would make a nice background for the photographs.  It was a cold, grey day but somehow Zoe managed to capture the beauty of the beach and landscape.  You can see all of the Edinburgh skyline from this side of the firth, as shown in one of my Instagram photos, it's one of my favourite views of Edinburgh.


Image credit - Zoe Campbell

Zoe was so relaxed about Badger, who was delighted for his first foray off-lead in 6 weeks since he had knee surgery and proceded to dick-punch everyone in sight.  He made it his life's mission to get his snout into Zoe's probably very expensive camera bag but she took it all in her stride.


Image credit - Zoe Campbell

Although I'm a lover of thrift and bargains, there are some things in life you just shouldn't scrimp on.  In the past this list for me has included sanitary products, mayonnaise and sewing thread but this list most def needs to include wedding photography.  We are going to look back on these photos for years to come, when we're old and saggy and the dog wears reading spectacles and reminisce over what beautiful people we were in our youf.  Because we are all beautiful people, despite our wrinkles and cellulite and dick-punching tendancies.  And clever people like Zoe know how to capture that on film for generations to come.  I honestly can't wait to see the wedding photos now.


Image credit - Zoe Campbell

P.S. The eagle eyed among you will have noticed the Transformer gloves (still in use after 3 years, though they needed some serious darning at the start of this winter season!).  The flowery top I was wearing will be the subject of a future post as I won it in a giveaway from the lovely Handmade Jane and it has spawned it's own knitwear giveaway, to be announced in the not-too-distant future.  Watch this space...

Sunday, 13 October 2013

T-shirt to vest using So Zo's free pattern

This is another from the lingering Guilt Pile discussed in the last post.  It was originally a t-shirt my parents brought me back from Canada when I was about 14.  My Mum has an embarrassing photo of me as a greasy, spotty teenager with braces, MASSIVE glasses (not in an ironic hipster way, I can assure you) and bad posture wearing this t-shirt.  Which, incidentally, was about 7 sizes too big.  Sexy.

I've always really liked the print though, being a giant science/animals geek.  So when I saw So Zo's amazing free t-shirt to vest pattern, this t-shirt immediately sprung to mind.  Unfortunately however, I went through a t-shirt surgery phase when I was about 18 so had already had a botched attempt to turn this oversized shirt into something more wearable.  Folk who follow me on Instagram may have already seen the results of this.  Unsurprisingly it sat unworn under my bed for the past decade (almost) until digging it out to model for this photo and then instantly applying to the scissors.


Sexy halter-neckDoesn't it scream '90s, B*Witched and Charmed to you?

This took several attempts, along with everything I've sewn recently.  It would be nice if something could work first time, y'know?  It was my attempt at using fold over elastic, which let me tell you, is not as simple as Zoe makes out.  The first attempt came out super saggy, in the style of those off-white/grey M&S granny pants we all own somewhere in the depths of the underwear drawer.  Again, folk on Instagram will have seen this already, as I recoiled in horror from my reflection in the mirror.


Careful unpicking of the elastic and a switch from the suggested 3 step zig-zag back to regular zig-zag stitch and I was  away.  The second attempt is far from perfect, it was still moderately saggy but making the straps shorter seems to counter balance some of that.  It fits better across the back and whilst it has it's issues, it's definitely more wearable now than in it's previous XXXL and '90s incarnations.  The regular zig-zag seems to help keep the elastic flatter against the body, I was stretching it the same amount as it passed through the machine as previously but it's definitely a better fit now, I'm less concerned that my boobages are going to be flashing anyone.



Overall, not perfect but wearable.  And I learned some things along the way.  Like jersey is a fucking nightmare and I'm not touching it with a barge pole for a long time to come. 

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Letting go of the mistakes

We've all been there.  We've all got them.  The skeletons in our sewing closets.  Projects that went wrong but you put SO much time and effort and money into them, you can't face just throwing them out.  You can't even face cutting into them to salvage the material, if you have to look at another green paisley swirl or cutesy rabbit print for another second, you'll go mad.  So they become relegated to the bottom of the Guilt Pile, sitting there, eyeing you up every time you go into your sewing room to work on some new, shiny project.  Making you feel BAD.


Broken cameraphone lens = light flare fail.  New one coming tomorrow though!

I've had the past few days off work and have been trying hard to work my way through my Guilt Pile.  It had morphed over the past year into a towering monstrosity, comprising of the following - a vintage wool dress (halfway through alterations), a dress designed for a friend's baby that came out too small, a tote bag with a t-shirt image sewn on the front that shrunk in the wash, half a Sorbetto, a t-shirt halfway through being altered to a vest using So Zo's pattern and the cut-out constituents of a baby blanket.


Looks alright from the outside, right?  Well think again...

Every time I went into my sewing room to daydream about future sewing projects, I would eyeball the Pile and feel guilty for not wanting to finish any of those projects.  I felt like I couldn't move onto something new without first reducing that pile.  So I decided to man up and get on with it this week.  And this baby dress was the first in the firing line.


Green elastic.  Why, Amy, why?!

This dress came out about 9 inches too small around the chest for a friend's baby.  9 inches.  Apparently I can't operate a ruler.  It would just about fit a doll.  It was a clusterfuck from start to finish if I'm honest, I wanted to try smocking after seeing it on The Great British Sewing Bee (how great was that programme by the way?  Can't wait for the next season!) but only had green shirring elastic so decided to just have a crack with that.  I also attempted a French seam (curtesy of Tilly - thanks love!) which came out ENORMOUS.  They could probably see it in France, it's that big.


HUGE princess seams.  If there's a princess in there, it's the one from Shrek.  The one who's an ogre.

So I panicked and bought her some books instead.  Then this little dress languished in my Guilt Pile for 4 months until today, when I picked it up, sighed, cut the emotional strings and popped it in the charity bag.  Maybe someone will buy it from Shelter and use it for their little girl's favourite doll.

Over the past few days I've worked my way through the pile, finishing off some things, altering others, consigning some to the recycle bin and others to charity.  It feels good to have (almost) cleared that pile, I feel like I can finally start thinking about sewing some useful things for myself, to fill holes in my wardrobe and start properly practising my skills.  I feel like every sewing project I do at the moment fails somewhere, that I'm more of the Bodgit and Scarper line of sewing than the Karens or Tillys or Zoes of the world.  But practice makes perfect, right?  I want to be able to sew my own clothes and those skills will only come if I put in the hard work.

Ooof, sounds difficult, I'm off to make a cup o'tea and do some knitting...sweet, easy knitting, how I love you...

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Scrub top from vintage thrifted bedsheets

In the 'real world', I'm a vet, working at the Edinburgh University veterinary teaching hospital.  The hospital is a somewhat serious place, so I decided to bring my own style to the operating theatres in the form of my own personal scrub top.


Image source

I chose Simplicity 4378, described as 'Women's, Men and Teen Scrubs'...completely missing the 'PLUS SIZE' part of the description.  Bollocks.
The material was a vintage thrifted bed sheet I bought from a charity shop years ago.  It's Thelwell, cartoons I was completely in love with as a kid and still adore to this day.  To those who don't know Thelwell's work, check out the website.  Then go buy 'A leg at each corner' for a small girl in your life.


As I cut out the pattern (size S, not that it matters when you're cutting completely the wrong size pattern) I thought to myself, "This seems awfully large...oh well, I'm sure Simplicity knows better than I do..."  Rule number 1 of sewing - trust your instincts.  I guess because I'm not that practised or confident at sewing from a pattern, I just blindly follow the instructions without really thinking about what I'm doing.


So the first top sewed up super fast, I have in mind everything from cutting the pattern to finishing the top stitching only took me about 2 hours.  Folk who follow me on Instagram (@craftandthrift) will have already seen this photo, taken in horror after trying on the first attempt.


Since it sewed up so quickly and I was in a trial-and-error kind of mood, instead of throwing it aside in a fit of petulance as I would have done normally, I decided to have another crack.  I cut into the pattern big-style, hacking 2 inches off either side, which in retrospect was a bit drastic.  I had then managed to create a top that was too small to fit over my bum.


Futher frankensteining followed, wherein I added a triangle at either hip to allow the top to fit over mah junk.  I also took it up too short in the bottom hem (facepalm - will the hilarity ever end?!) so ended up having to add another 2 inches back onto the bottom.  By this time I was gritting my teeth, determined to make it work.  In retrospect, maybe I should have taken this as a sign that my sewing career is never going to take off?





Scrub top in use, pre-surgery

But!  Amy triumphed!  (cue fanfares)  It's not perfect by any means, but for a comedy covering of my upper lady parts in a manner that will ultimately end up covered in doggy bodily fluids, it will serve.  I've had multiple compliments from folk at work, who don't even seem to notice that it's handmade (or at least are good at faking the, "is it really?!  How talented are you?" phrase.

Do you wonder now why I knit more than sew?  Sewing is stressful man!