November round-up and December’s sewing plans

November trees

This has been a weird old month. Not only is there the whole pregnancy thing throwing a spanner in my sewing plans, but Gabriel decided to give up his afternoon nap. That means he’s gone from napping 2-2.5 hours every day, to nothing, just like that! Oh yes, and not only have I lost my sanity time to get things done (including sewing), but he’s been throwing wobblers about random things as he’s tired and grumpy. Is it any surprise I haven’t been blogging?! Continue reading “November round-up and December’s sewing plans”

New blog address! And what I’ll be doing tomorrow :)

Hi peeps! I’m writing to you all from a brand new blog/website, and I’m really hoping that all you subscribers are still getting notifications, as normal. Please, even if you don’t normally comment, I’d really appreciate a quick comment on this post to let me know you’ve got it okay.

What I’ve done is moved my blog over from a WordPress.com account to a self-hosted one, with the new site address of AnnaJoSews.com (way more catchy than AnnaJoSews.wordpress.com, don’t you reckon?!). All posts have transferred over, although I’m having a few issues with missing images in galleries. Luckily I’d only recently started using the gallery function, so in the next week or so I should have had a chance to go through all the affected posts and update the images. I also know some of the headings in posts look odd, so I’ll do my best to fix those too.

If you do have a moment to look around the new site and let me know what you think I’d really appreciate it. I will eventually have a pretty header which my sister is designing for me as she has mad graphics skillz which are sadly lacking in me. I’d particularly appreciate knowing if there are any problems with navigating the site, or anything that looks plain weird. Don’t be afraid to let me know–if I don’t know about it, I can’t fix it!

Anyway, that’s enough of all that boring techy stuff. Believe me, I’ve been up to my eyeballs in it for days now and I really need a break.

So, I have big plans for tomorrow. Mum has the kids, Andy is back at work (he’s a schoolteacher, poor love!), and I’m going to be indulging in the following:

Yep, that’s every single one of Craftsy’s classes with free access for one day only! I have so many sewing classes on my wishlist, and I’m going to be using this chance to check them all out, and I’ll probably have a peek at a few more while I’m at it. I’m particularly keen to find the best jeans and shirt sewing classes there, as they are two garments I want to tackle before the end of the year.

Anyone else a fan of Craftsy classes? I’ve learnt so much from them over the last few years, particularly when it comes to fitting, couture sewing techniques and sewing with knit fabrics. I can’t wait to continue my online education!

Right, I’ll be back on Tuesday with an update post on August’s sewing. Until then,  happy sewing!

Anna x

PS, that’s an affiliate link in the Craftsy ad above, so if you purchase a class after following the link I will get a small commission, at no extra expense to you. Hope that’s all right–it’s the only way I can fund my sewing habit at the moment!

I’m a Sewcialist!

Check out my first post on the Sewcialists blog, where I was forced to narrow down my sewing heroes to just five inspirational women:

https://sewcialists.wordpress.com/2017/07/28/sew-inspirational/

Sorry to all those I left out! There have been lots of great posts over there this month and I’ve picked up lots of new blogs to follow 🙂

Who are your sewing blog heroes? And what do they inspire you to make?

Bloglovin claim post!

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

I have to admit, I’ve been sticking my head in the sand when it comes to Bloglovin, as I went over to Feedly when Google Reader disappeared, and I really didn’t want yet another social media app to steal my time. But while I hesitate to commit myself at such an early stage (having been on Bloglovin for all of ten minutes) I think I might actually prefer it to Feedly. Anyway, I’m hereby claiming my blog–and bonus, it appears a few of you are following me on Bloglovin already. Cheers, me dears!

Normal blogging will be resumed next week, when I’ll be sharing my progress report on my MakeNine challenge–and hopefully a new make too. Just got to put the finishing touches to it with a bit of hand sewing…

The Seamstress Tag

This #TheSeamstressTag thing has been doing the sewing blog and vlog rounds lately, so I thought I should probably join in. This is me, then 🙂

Who are you?

My name’s Anna, although some know me as Jo as I write gay romance under the name Josephine Myles. I live in the vibrant town of Frome in beautiful Somerset, in a fab 1960s bungalow with my partner Andy, my daughter Daisy (aged 11), our son Gabriel (22 months), and the two cats, Lottie and Dottie.

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Gabriel and Daisy
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Me and Andy. I’m wearing one of my dresses here, but you can’t see much of it so you’ll just have to take my word that it’s gorgeous!

When & why did you start sewing?

I’ve been sewing for as long as I can remember, although my childhood makes were confined to embroidery and soft toys. I made a few garments for school in my teens, but a nasty incident sewing through my finger put me off sewing machines for a long while. I didn’t take up garment sewing again until my daughter was a couple of years old, so I reckon that must be nine years ago now. I was motivated originally by wanting to make vintage style clothing that fit me properly and I sewed a lot of evening dresses, but now I’m more into making everyday sort of clothes. I tend to be really specific about what I’m looking for when clothes shopping so it can be tough to find anything that fits the bill. Sewing allows me to make exactly what I want, out of the fabrics I love. Continue reading “The Seamstress Tag”

Craftysticks: breaking promises but finishing garments.

I said in my first (and so far, only) Craftysticks post that it would be a weekly update post. Uh, try monthly, as that was back at the beginning of July! Ah well, it’s been a busy few weeks, what with me having to finish a novella and get it off to my editor–a novella called Custom Fit, featuring a fashion student, a man in a homemade dress and some major clothing kinks, so it’s okay to mention it here, right?!

Sewing:

Anyway, I started well on the sewing, almost polishing off one of Daisy’s school dresses. Unfortunately I didn’t quite get it finished before school ended for the summer, and since then I’ve been somewhat discouraged. I do need to finish it (just the hemming) and get the other one done too (which is at pre zip insertion stage) before the weekend, though, as I’m going to the SEWN Sewcial in Bristol, and I’ll need my sewing machine for another, more exciting project. Not sure what, exactly, but I’ve promised myself I’m not going to rethread either of my machines until I’ve finished the damn dresses. Anyone else get tough with themselves like that? Sometimes it’s the only way to finish things! Or not finish them, in this case…

Crochet:

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I finished sewing the buttons on the Cecilia Chemise! It looks gorgeous, and fits so well! Still haven’t worn it anywhere, though. I keep telling myself I’m saving it for the UK Meet in September, but I should probably where it somewhere first in case I discover any issues when wearing it. You don’t want that to happen when you’re at a convention with your author hat on, trying to be all charismatic and so on. Trust me. Been there, done that…

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The other Stitchdiva pattern I’m working on, the Rebel Lace Cardie, is progressing slowly but surely. I need some better light so I can work on it in the evenings, though. Navy yarn is not my friend in anything other than the brightest light! I’ve now reached the second armhole split, which means the upper bodice is nearly finished. I have a feeling it might take me till next summer to finish this thing, but hey, I don’t mind. It’s soothing, in a strange way, considering how tricky it is.

In the works:

I now just have to work out which of my various planned projects I’m going to get cut and ready to stitch on Sunday at the Sewcial @SEWN . Ooh, do I go tricky with chiffon, make a rainbow Pride corduroy skirt, or take several t-shirt projects to whizz through on my overlocker? The overlocker is much lighter than the sewing machine, and I’ve no idea how far I’ll have to carry it. Hmm, decisions, decisions…

Right, off to finish those gingham school dresses before Daisy grows out of them.

Anyone else reading this going to be in Bristol for the Sewcial on Sunday?

Year round up and foolish, grandiose aims for 2016

It’s the time of year for a round up, because there’s something about the post-Christmas period that makes me determined to do better. Eat less chocolate! Exercise more! Enjoy life to the full! And set myself loads of stupid goals I’ll never manage to keep…

Okay, so I don’t manage to sew or blog as often as I’d like to (and I have several unblogged projects waiting), but it’s hardly surprising with a baby around the place. Add in moving house last year and no longer having a dedicated sewing room (and currently house-hunting to buy somewhere, so probably moving again in a few months) and I’m amazed I’ve managed to get anything done. Go me!

Here are my goals from last year, and how I think I did with them:

  • Make a selection of dresses and tops in knit fabrics, all with concealed nursing access.

IMG_0723 (Copy)Does two tops and a dress count as a selection? I think so! And better yet, I’ve been wearing them regularly. Except one of the tops (unblogged), but more about that another day…

  • Make at least a couple of bras and pairs of knickers to match.

Err, I think I was too ambitious with my first bra project. Learning the technique while trying to deal with all the layers of a nursing bra, while merrily adapting a regular bra pattern? Nope, wasn’t working. I’m saving bra-making for when I’ve stopped nursing, which should be at some point over the next few months.

  • Begin to build a foundation wardrobe of versatile, TNT patterns. I shall be following the Wardrobe Architect 2015 Challenge to give me some motivation. I want this to include patterns for a t-shirt, a dress, a skirt, trousers, a shrug and perhaps a jacket if there’s time.

Continue reading “Year round up and foolish, grandiose aims for 2016”

Nursing dress – Simplicity 1469

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I’ve made a fair few dresses in my time, but this particular dress marks a turning point. This is the first dress I’ve ever made that I’ve worn regularly. And when I say regularly, I mean I grab it every time it’s out of the laundry! So what makes this dress so special? I believe it’s largely down to the knit fabric, which is beautifully soft and drapey. It’s the same viscose are used to sew the top version of this pattern (Simplicity 1469), And it presented the same challenges to work with. However, I learnt a lot making the top so it was much easier this time around.

For the top I used clear elastic to stabilise the neckline but I was never happy with the result. I didn’t like the zig-zag topstitching or the way the neckline of the inner bodice kept wanting to pull outwards:

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This time I buckled down, faced my fears, and made a proper knit binding for the neckline and armholes. Why was I so worried? It was the easiest thing in the world, and the results look brilliant. I didn’t even need to topstitch down the seam allowance as I used my over locker to attach the binding. In fact I did try topstitching and it looks rubbish, so that saved me some work. I even remembered to trim a little off the edges before binding them, so as not to add any width to the edges. Continue reading “Nursing dress – Simplicity 1469”

Can't blog. Sewing.

I’ve been making sure I spend at least 20 minutes a day sewing–harder than you’d think, as Gabriel is only happy on the sewing room floor for about 10 minutes at a time. I’m starting to think it might be easier when I have to give up that room for him and sew downstairs. At least he likes the living room floor!

Anyway, this is what I have to show for my time:

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It certainly isn’t perfect. I’m not happy with the zig zag on the neckline, the underbust pleats (I think gathers would be more flattering) or the alternative sleeve finish I attempted (a contrast rolled edge finish, which didn’t roll, so I had to turn into a lettuce leaf edge instead). But the fit isn’t too bad and at least I now know the tweaks I’ll need to make before cutting into the polka dot fabric.

To finish this off so it’s at least wearable around the house, I’m going to add a contrast band at the bottom with the same lettuce leaf edge as the sleeves.

So, on with the sewing!

PS – the pattern is the Megan Nielson dress for Simplicity.

Happy New Blog!

I need a new blog in much the the same way I need a kitten. In other words, it’s yet another thing I have to try to find time for in my busy life, but it’s so terribly appealing!

So, this is my sewing/crafting blog, as I love making things and want to document and share more of what I get up to. Assuming I can manage to make anything now I have a 1 month old son to care for (Gabriel) along with Daisy, my nine-year-old. Yep, all crafting will either have to happen with Gabriel on my lap, or when he naps.

my familyA bit about me… I’m 37 and I live in Somerset with my partner, Andy, the two kids and two cats (pictured left, without the cats). I’ve had various different careers, including teaching English Lit, but I’ve been making a living as a writer of gay erotic romance for the last few years (yes, really!) and I publish under the pen name Josephine Myles. I love writing but I need to make things with my hands too. I’m one of those terminally creative people with more ideas than time and resources, and I’m always up for trying a new craft, especially textile crafts. I enjoy crochet and knitting (especially knitting lace), and have a yen to try feltmaking again sometime soon. And I want to give macrame a go. Oh, and I enjoy jewellery making too. It’s so tough to narrow things down and specialise!

Steampunk outfitBut sewing is my first love. I’ve been sewing by hand my whole life, although I only took up dressmaking on a sewing machine around five years ago. I took an evening class in pattern drafting (which annoyingly enough disqualifies me from entering the Great British Sewing Bee). So far I’ve mostly made glamorous, vintage-style dresses and costumes for generally looking fabulous in when sipping cocktails at cabaret shows. My all time most impressive make (to me, anyway) is my underbust corset (shown right with Simplicity 1819). Plain and simple, but it fits like a dream and is wonderfully comfortable.

Continue reading “Happy New Blog!”