Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Minerva Crafts Blogger Network

Greetings from Nashville everyone!

Before I hit the streets with Mr S looking for high-fat lunch and Tennessee action, I wanted to quickly grab the hotel computer to say how truly happy and excited I am for the Minerva Crafts Blogger Network.

I feel so lucky and honoured to have been selected for this new venture and can't wait to show you all my first make. I'll be taking pictures of my dress in Memphis. What better then to introduce my first make from the home of my boyfriend, EAP. Stay tuned, it will published on my birthday! What a great coincidence and b-day pressie for moi.

Hopefully you all know by now that Minerva Crafts have launched a blogger network. I am part of an amazing team of 8 - you can find out who else is in the network on the official Minerva Crafts website.

Each month, we'll each blog a post showing an outfit or craft we have made using fabric from the amazing variety on offer on the Minerva website - and believe me when I say variety, I mean billions of things to choose from. Okay, not billions, but there is so much choice it's a mecca for the fabric enthusiast and yeah I am looking at YOU. And, what's more, Minerva are a family-run company with such kind and excellent customer service. I've really enjoyed my correspondence with Vicki in getting this network up and running. I can't recommend them enough!

For each make, the team will use patterns, fabric and notions and if you like it you can buy our kits! We'll each have our make made up into a kit that will include everything you'll need to recreate our look. I love this idea, especially because each blogger will no doubt give you insight and tips into how best to work with the chosen fabric, pattern or notions used.

I hope you all enjoy following our makes. Thank you to Minerva Crafts for such a great opportunity and good luck to the rest of the girls on the network, I can't wait to see what you do. Rachel has already posted her first make, which you can find here. I have seen this dress in person and it looks stunning!

Well, I am off into Nashville with Mr S. Speak to y'all real soon. Love xx

Thursday, 25 July 2013

The Mississippi Delta was shining like a national guitar

As if you all didn't know already, but there will be a short hiatus from Dixie Lou for 3.5 weeks.

Hey wait. WHATEVER. I'm going to try and blog, instagram and tweet the hell out of my time in the deep South. I have the Graceland dress to show you after all right? Which, thankfully is finished. What? Oh yeah I still have to hem it. FUK. Okay I'm going to eat some rocky road, make some calming tea and FINISH it. Maybe Walter White will help. No, he's what has gotten me into this mess, right @Gingermakes?

Gawd, I hope Elvis appreciates all this hard word.

Our first stop is Boston, then to Dollywood. Thankfully, @lbreton is leaving me her bewbs there for a temporary loan. No way I'm hitting those mountains without some good mountains of my own. You get me? Hopefully the bombshell swimsuit will stay together for a couple of photos. I daren't take it to Dolly's splashpark though. Visions of me plummeting down a water slide, my dodgy zig zagged seams popping all over the place. Oh well, stiff upper British lip, tip my hat and bid everyone a good day.

After frolicking in Dolly's mountains, we go to Nashville, where I will be meeting up with Miss LLadybird herself. Excited.

Then, it's...




HOLY SHITE! After Elvis leaves me high and tired, we hot foot it to New Orleans where we meet up with Mr Szabo Senior to celebrate his birthday. August babes are the best. Then it's Canada bound for lakes, swimming, beaver tails, birthday fun and meeting @Gilliancrafts, @Gjeometry and @Aem2 in Toronto. I hope they will become our next international Spoolettes!

So, I bid you farewell readers. Oh and can someone check in on Don Robot from time to time? He's not taking this impending separation too well.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

We can't go on together with suspicious minds: McCalls 6700

I am venturing further into knit territory. At first I dipped my toe in the water and made a Briar, then I adapted the Briar pattern into a long-sleeve basic straight hem t-shirt, then I part-exchanged my old overlocker for Bob, my new Brother overlocker, and things started to get REAL.

So with that experience under my belt I thought it was time to pull out the big guns and make something a bit more lavish.

I chose another McCall's pattern, this time a long maxi dress, which is now going by the name of the 'Suspicious Minds' dress. I'm not quite sure why, but I figure I haven't given 70s Elvis nearly as much attention as 50s and 60s Elvis', and I don't want him to think I don't love him anymore, or that "yeah, you're looking a little porky, no rudies tonight I'm reading 'Gone Girl'".

Furthermore, a maxi dress has that 70s vibe about it and this one in particular made Elvis suspicious because it gives a little emphasis to the bewbs. He should be grateful though, I found this fabric on a market stall OUTSIDE of Rolls & Rems going for a grand total of £5 for 2.5 metres, so more money for jumpsuits and gold.

 Hands on hips, point bewbs, FIRE!

I feel like I am slipping into a mini love-affair with McCalls. After the flamingo romper and now this, I am convinced we are like peas and carrots. Everything fits pretty much as it should and the patterns are easy to work with. 

This dress didn't take any time at all. I cut my size going by the measurements on the envelope and just hoped for the best. First up was the shoulder seams - they are elasticated and required a small piece of elastic being sewn over the seams, which was pretty straightforward. The only tricky part of this dress was the thin ties (seen on the photo of the back). Turning these probably killed a small part of my soul. I took to lying on the bed in the sun and just did them bit by bit. Afterwards, I felt like I had been strumming a guitar all afternoon my fingers were that sore. I used a loop turner and basic elbow grease, but does anyone have another tried and tested method? (FYI, using a needle and thick thread didn't work either).

The ties then had to be sewn over the shoulder seam, so through the seam and the elastic. That was a little tricky to keep neat but I survived. 

After the ties fiasco everything else came together in a flash. I used my overlocker to sew up and finish the side seams of the skirt and bodice, and then my favourite pet, my walking foot, to sew up the tricker bits and the hems. I didn't get any wavy seams or hems on this. One trick I found was as the material is moving under the foot, push it slightly to create some 'slack' and that should help prevent any waviness.  I also reduced my foot pressure.

I totally recommend making the investment in buying a walking foot. They're not only fun as they look like the AT-AT Walkers from Star Wars, but they seriously work and help your sewing. 

  My walking foot. If I like you, I put a sticker on you

Other features of this dress include a mock wrap bodice on both front and back and an elasticated waist.  Everything is really quick and easy to do, and it's easy to adjust the placement of the mock wrap sections should you require it to be more fitted or if your bewbs need some space. 

The waist tie for this dress is so long though, I reckon I could use it to escape out of the window in the event of a fire, or just a novel way of leaving the house. Not sure why they make it that long, but I assume it's to be double wrapped around the waist line, which I have done here as I stand next to a street lamp. These are my first photos using a self-timer and mini tripod. It took forever. Think I will revert back to my assistant, Mr S, in future. 

Outside party central: Chez Szabo

Overall, I am really pleased with this dress. It made its debut at Canada Day in Trafalgar Square and after  I washed it, I warily tried it on and everything has maintained its shape, bazinga! 

Canada Day with Mr S. Yes, he has a transfer stuck on his head. 

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Hot legs, are you still in school? Salme shorts.

I've made a pair of shorts for the trip and they're not half bad.

For this pattern, I took a recommendation from Mrs B and checked out Salme Sewing Patterns. A London-based company, which I had never heard of. Don't ever accuse me of having my ear to the ground.

I was really surprised at the quality of fit of this pattern. I made no alterations and I think the fit is pretty good. To be completely perfect I think I would take the waist in a little more, but that is something I can actually fix if I set aside some time and patience to unpick the amazing stitching-in-the-ditching I did, and nip in the waist darts. That way they could sit a little higher and shorter! *giggles like a schoolgirl*

Otherwise I love the fit, especially on my bum-bum, which always doth protest too much in shorts and trousers. It seems to find these agreeable. 

Me just hanging out with George next to a bush

For the fabric I used some gorgeous pink and white striped 100% Czech cotton I bought in Prague.

As I was beginning to make these shorts up I noticed that the cotton, although quite heavy, was still going to be a little see through and would show the outline of the pockets. So, I used some cheap white polycotton I usually reserve for muslin jobs and made an underlining. I then treated the layers as one piece. It worked well and now I don't have to always wear my tighty whiteys!

The rest of the construction was pretty straightforward. However, please note, the pattern does not include seam allowances so these will need to be added beforehand. I had a great discussion on Twitter with fellow sewcialists about the preference of patterns with or without SA, which I have been meaning to do a blog post on. Let me know your thoughts below if you like.

The shorts have a side zip using a concealed zipper and then a neat little waistband and button finish. I cut off a whole lot from the hem as they finish a little longer than I like. The way I do this is to put one leg in side the other, pin and then trim so that both legs are nice and even.

Ewww, George I think others have been here before us

The other good news is that I did make a muslin of these, which I just pin-fitted together (hence an inaccurate reading of the waist fit, tut tut Clarey!) and the fabric I used was the infamous 'Miami Vice' that I used to make my Victoria Blazer. So,when I get a minute I'll sew these up properly. Shit, what an outfit that will make when I'm busting out my jazz hands in New Orleans.

Here you can see the fabric better. Ignore the creases.

Me and George rocking it in some b&w

I definitely recommend this pattern. It doesn't take long and it's a really neat finish with some nice pockets. Go on get those hot legs out, this man is gagging for it.

Wait, do I have hot legs or not?