SewBrum Oct 2014

Wow! My first ever meet-up in Birmingham with other sewists for SewBrum 2014, organised by Charlotte of  Thanks Charlotte!  That was such fun.  And most likely the only group of people you can just wander up to, grab their dress and say, ooh, that’s nice, what is it?  without them looking at you like a mad person.

We started off meeting outside the Starbucks in New Street Station.  That was a bit puzzling for me – it’s been nearly 20 years since I was last in New Street station, and they’ve completely revamped it.  Plus, my train got in at 9.15 and we were meeting at 10, so I had a bit of a wait.  Charlotte’s instructions said to look for the big group, but since I was the first one there, there was no big group!  I was frantically scanning everyone that walked past, trying to tell if they were wearing me-made clothing or not.  Of course, since it was a rainy day, that wasn’t easy – everyone was wearing a coat.  Eventually I spotted a likely candidate, and asked if she was there for SewBrum.  I got lucky, it was Rachel from  And then more and more people started gathering until eventually there was a big group.  (Hi, Angie!)

So, off we headed to Barry’s Fabrics.  Wow!  I haven’t been in there since I was little, and didn’t remember it at all.

I did really well in here, and couldn’t believe the amount of choice, or the prices.  It was funny, because every time someone picked up a bolt to go and have some cut, they’d end up with people stroking it and going ooh, that’s lovely.  In some cases, you’d end up with a little queue behind you to have some cut from the same bolt.

(I apologise for the poor colours, it’s been really dark every time I’ve tried to take a picture).  Clockwise from top left, pinky mohair wool (1m), black and white bird print cotton (2m), blue Chinese-effect satin (2m), gold satin/silk (2m), floral green-ish polyester silk effect (2m), and multi-striped cotton (2m).


All the ladies cutting and serving were fantastically helpful, and we got a 10% discount as well – just as well, really!

I’m thinking – the pink mohair is for a trim around the bottom of a white boucle winter coat (I’ve had the boucle for ages, but needed something to decorate it with; the bird print for a work blouse, the blue satin for an evening jacket, the gold satin for an evening top, the green polyester for another smart blouse, and the stripes for a men’s shirt style, well, shirt.

Then we moved onto the Fancy Silk Store.  I was less impressed with this than with Barry’s.  There wasn’t so much choice of fabric types, and most fabrics were more expensive.  That said, it very much was what it says in the name – the fancy silks were lovely.  I did get some very nice shot silk effect lining fabric in a lovely green/red colourway (3m at £5pm), and some fantastic sequinned peacocks on netting (1.35m at £16.99pm).  I think they’re probably intended for a sari-type affair, but cut out and appliqued onto the gold satin/silk from Barry’s, they’ll make a really nice evening blouse/top.


Again, we got a 10% discount.  It was funny, too, when we were all trying to squeeze into the ground floor.  It was VERY cosy.

I managed to squeeze a quick run round the Rag Market, although it very much was a rush round in the last half hour before we caught the bus.  I did well in here, too, the selection was much better than on my last visit, just after the Rag Market had been moved.  I found some lovely red broderie anglais, with a deep border (2m at £4.50pm).  A fellow sewist stopped to eye it up, and the market guy got out every other colourway he had – orange, the usual white, and black, but I stuck with the red.  A lovely denim coloured chambray at another stand manned by what appeared to be a Turkish(?) boy band – about 7 guys of various ages, all dressed in fantastic white outfits and pointy slippers (2m at £3pm – the chambray, not the guys).  And then back to the broderie stall for some really interesting pleated black and white synthetic stuff (2m at £2.50pm).  I would have liked a proper look at all the notions stalls, but just didn’t have time.  They’ll most likely be a top in the black and white, a summer dress in the broderie, and maybe a pair of trousers in the blue.


Then we assembled to catch the bus to Moseley.  We had an…interesting…walk while we circled the bus stop, but eventually all piled onto a #50 bus.  It took about 15 minutes to get to Moseley, where we all traipsed into Guthrie & Ghani.  I LOVE this shop, it’s so nicely laid out.  Lauren very kindly opened up the workshop upstairs for us, and laid on tea (served by her lovely mother) and cakes made by other sewists, as well as a little goody envelope.  Mine had some white satin ribbon in it, as well as a 10% off voucher and a project postcard.  I saw another one with a nice sew-on decoration, so I guess everyone’s envelope was different.  And it was Lauren’s birthday too!

I spent far too much money in here, although to be fair I had a set amount of money I had drawn out for the day, and I managed to spend it all!

I got some lovely red chambray (2m), a couple of Christmas fabrics (1m each), some tweedy suiting (2m), and some gorgeous pale pink guipiere-style lace (1m at ouch! £32pm).  I’ve already started making a shirt with the chambray.  I’m planning on a couple of Christmas aprons with the Christmas-y fabric, some cosy work trousers with the tweed, and a couple of blouses with the lace, of the kind with a solid body and lace arms/shoulders.


Having all made purchases, we all re-convened upstairs for the raffle, chat and more tea.


I won twice in the raffle, once for a pdf pattern, and blow me down, the Singer sewing machine!  Here’s Charlotte’s photo of me looking suitably stunned.  I’m wearing my pink Coco, which I made the previous weekend at Guthrie & Ghani’s.  I’ll post properly about that another time.

SewBrum Meet-Up

Then we had a pattern and fabric swap.  I brought quite a few patterns, and came away with some new ones (to me).  I also got a couple of bits of fabric, a nice pinky cotton, probably enough for a sleeveless top, and about a metre and a half of an interesting lacy border.  Not sure what to do with that yet.


I got the bus back into town with Rachel (, Ela (, Thea (, and Louise (, amongst others.  Of course, I had two bags of fabric and a sewing machine to wrestle with!  I can’t thank enough everyone who helped me get back to the station.

It was about 6.40 when I got home, happy but exhausted!


16 July 2014 update – dress-making

Well, yet again, it’s been a while!

I’ve been busy, though.  My focus has changed quite dramatically, so I’ve been doing a lot of dress-making.  I’m posting this at work (gasp!), so pictures of my actual creations will follow later, although I’ll put the official pattern pictures in for now.  Edited: added my pictures in!

Largely prompted by the Great British Sewing Bee series 2, which I must have watched at least 20 times now, I decided I felt like dress-making.

I completed a dress I’ve had cut out for about 4 years – but I’ve lost a lot of weight, so I had to re-cut all the pieces.  I had sewn the bodice darts, so I had to unpick those, and discovered that my fabric, a cotton batik, had marked badly along the stitch lines, so had a panic when I thought I didn’t have enough fabric.  Fortunately, I found the bag and juuuust had enough to re-cut.  It did mean that the pattern matching wasn’t quite as good as I wanted, but that was contributed to by the print not being as even as it actually looked on the roll.  The cotton came from John Lewis, and the bodice is fully lined, lining fabric also from John Lewis.  The pattern is  Vogue 8633 ‘Easy’, although it was anything but!  I made view F, which is the full skirt with sleeves.  I found that I had to shorten the shoulder line (not sure if that’s the right term) by about 2 inches, as it projected enough that if I’d set the sleeves in as it was, they would have been about halfway down my upper arm!  I also need to close up the neckline a little – it’s fine standing up, but when I sit down there’s a bit more cleavage on view than I like.  I even embroidered washing instructions inside!

Vogue - 8633

dress My lovely dog decided to photobomb the picture!

Since I had some fabric left over (those unused bodice pieces), I made a little clutch bag, using the instructions in Love Sewing magazine, issue 1.

 dress bag

Then I started and finished a jacket made from a groovy wool blend with lines needlefelted onto it, which I got at the Sewing for Pleasure show at the NEC in March, and lined it with a painted nylon kimono lining from ebay.  The pattern is a Simplicity New Look pattern that seems to be out of print now, for a waterfall front jacket.  The pattern, though, is for a much lighter fabric, and unlined, so I had to figure that out as I went along.  It’s very cosy.  The pattern also didn’t at any point specify that the long sleeve seams had to be sewn.  In one instruction diagram they were unsewn, and in the next they were magically sewn, without any written step inbetween!

jacket front jacket back jacket lining jacket lining detail

I made a pair of trousers from Vogue 1366 in a grey lightweight suiting, which I got from The Sewing Cafe, in Hinckley.  I added purple piping around the waistline and across the rear welt pockets.  And my god, the pockets!  The instructions were slightly less than useless, and after my fifth attempt, ruining one whole cut-out leg of good fabric, I youtubed the whole thing, ignored the Vogue instructions, and got on much better.  Without doubt, the most comfortable pair of trousers I have EVER owned, and the right length too.  I’m tall, so I struggle to find ready to wear trousers long enough.  But the rear pockets were not simple.

 trousers front trousers back

I completed a pair of shoe clips from a Mollie Makes magazine cover kit – fun!

Mollie Makes 41 gifts mollie clips

I bought a new overlocker, because mine died, utterly.

 A Brother 1034D.  My boss gave me a bonus, the day after my overlocker died, so that was a complete no-brainer!

I took apart a handbag which I had from Accessorize several years ago, which was in a pink corduroy.  The corduroy had gone bald, as corduroy does when it rubs, but I really like the shape and size of the bag, so I unpicked it and used the pieces as patterns to cut out and assemble a new bag.  The new one is made up in a cotton canvas from a shop in London, with the old lining from the handbag and the zip and strap re-used, and interlined with a waterproof fabric from the same shop.  (The Cloth Shop, in Soho.)  First time of making my own bias binding using a bias maker, too.

Accessorize Corduroy Handbag The original was similar to this one.

bag front bag back This is my version.  I also re-used the lining.

I just made up a top from a Vogue Very Easy 8963, in a print cotton from ebay.  I didn’t cut the top on the bias, because of the pattern on the fabric, and added an invisible zip in the back.  My first one, so I’m really pleased with that, I think it turned out really well.  The pattern envelope shows it as a dress, but it can be made up as a top too.  The only other change I made to this was to add bias binding around the bottom of the armholes, which isn’t specified in the pattern instructions.

 top front top back

I finally finished Hill Hay Farm, thank goodness!  I still think it’s not very good as a photo chart, but hopefully the cousin who asked me for it will be happy.

hill hay

I also made a couple of flowery hair clips, and decorated some white espadrille type pumps (£7.99 from New Look) to match the dress.

hair clips flower shoes

So next, the OH wants me to make up some cushions for the living room using some patchwork printed pieces we got from the USA last time we were there; I want to make up a couple of blouses and a jacket, and I’m back sewing the Dark Knight again.

I’m thinking:

MATHILDE Tilly and the Buttons – Mathilde

 By Hand London – Victoria Blazer (long length)

Oh, and I’m also knitting a bolero cardigan to go with the cotton dress.

We went up to Yorkshire for the Tour de France, and found a lovely little shop in Ilkley, called Eme,

Photo: Shop looks great when the sun is shinning!

where I got a bobble hat kit (a ball of chunky wool with a pre-made fluffy bobble), a pattern for an anorak affair,

Landgate Pattern (new) Merchant & Mills – Landgate

and some cute dotty canvas to make it up in.   It’s a really great little shop, and the proprietress was absolutely lovely.  We came upon it purely by chance, but I thoroughly recommend a visit.

So I guess I’m going to be busy.

I’ve also signed up for a sewing course at Guthrie & Ghani in August – making a Belcarra blouse.  I seem to struggle with hems, and I’m not sure if it’s me or my sewing machine that’s the problem.  So hopefully I might get a couple of pointers.

Plus I’ll be going to SewBrum in October for a day of shopping and swapping.  I can’t wait!