Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Bad Blogger - will try harder

Hi everyone.

I can't believe how bad a blogger I am (especially as my family keep telling me I can talk the hind legs off a donkey)
Anyway I am now promising to be a better blogger - not promising to blog every day or even every week for that matter but I WILL blog once a month.
I have been busy sewing so will have lots to share with you in the new year - including my Mum's Xmas present of an apron with photos of her grandchildren printed onto it.

I am also looking for somewhere to rent to use as a workroom/shop so if anyone knows of anywhere in the North Bristol/South Gloucester area please let me know.

I had lots of lovely sewing related gifts for Christmas. What did you all receive?

Until the next time.


Monday, 17 October 2011

Weekend work

Just thought I would post a few pictures and details of what I have been up to over the weekend.
I have been off work with a bad ankle and have been doing quite a bit of sewing but this has made me think about all the ufo's (unfinished objects) I have so I decided to write a list and work my way through them.
Here is the list:
Christmas coasters,
Kindle cover (quilted),
Cot quilt,
Advent calender.

So far I have quilted the kindle cover - need to go and buy a gadget to make bias binding in the correct size.
Quilt is all pieced together and 2/3rds quilted,
the advent calender is cut out, some numbers have been sewn to the pockets.
The christmas coasters had been embroidered and some of them had been hand embroidered with border. Now finished all coasters and they are the 1st item on my list to be completed.
The cot quilt is being made from old winnie the pooh curtains with embroidered squares. I had already cut out the curtains into the required squares. This weekend I have started on the embroidered squares and have so far done 8 to use.

Here are a couple of pictures:
Kindle cover quilted

Close up of picture quilting

embroidered panels for cot quilt

Close up of a couple of embroidered squares

Coasters for xmas - embroidered

Close up of embroidery on coasters
I also made a cushion cover using an idea I had seen. However I used fabric that I inherited that had already been cut and so it didn't sew as I would have liked. I have finished the front and the back should be completed tomorrow.
Front panel of cushion cover

Another view.

Friday, 16 September 2011


I was asked by a work colleague if I could make his partner a cape. She wanted it in the style of a Jedi Cape from star wars. They supplied me this pattern

She wanted to be able to wear it all year round when she went out for dinner, to a party etc. Even though it would only be for special occasions it would still need to be warm enough to wear in winter but cool enough for summer. To accomplish this rather than lining the cape as the pattern says I made 2 separate capes. One was made from black polycotton. The other was made from black fleece.
This is the outer layer made from polycotton.
With hood up

With hood down
This is the inner layer made from black fleece. This section has no hood.
Inner section of cape

I then added poppers around the neckline seam on both sections of the cape so that they could be joined together, this way just the outer can be worn in summer but both in winter.
Poppers to hold both layers together.

This is the final cape - I didn't have my mannequin handy to take photos so had to hang it over the edge of the kitchen door.
Both layers together.
 Close up of the hood.

This was an easy pattern to make and I enjoyed doing something different to what I had done before. I learnt some new techniques working on different fabrics. I am thinking of making one in satin but just lining it not adding a detachable layer.


Saturday, 10 September 2011

They call me Klutz

Well as the title says I am a bit clumsy. I am always having accidents, normally stupid ones.
A couple of weeks ago I fell down the house stairs before hitting the baby safety gate at the bottom - I was bruised and stiff for a couple of days.

The stairs - fell from top to bottom.

Well I managed to fall down the stairs again last Saturday. This time I only went down the bottom two stairs. I slipped on the baby gate and landed in a heap sat on the floor.
Bottom two stairs.
This time as I landed my foot when under as it hit the laminate flooring and I felt my foot bone hit my ankle bone. Couldn't stand on it for a while but then it wasn't too bad unless I put all my weight on it. Sunday was a bit painful but I just thought I had bruised or sprained it. Went to the doctors about something else on Monday morning, he took one look and told me to go to A&E to get it x-rayed as he thought I had broken the bone. Spent 3 hours in A&E only to be told I had fractured it but they had never seen one like it so had to go to fracture clinic on Tuesday. At fracture clinic doctor had a look at foot, looked at x-rays, consulted with a colleague, looked again at foot. Then decided he needed to speak to an ankle specialist  - who was in surgery.  They think that I have an extra bone in my foot (called an accessory navicular.)
The doctor decided that they would give me a boot to support my foot along with the crutches I was already on, he would then speak to the specialist once he was out of surgery and then take it from there. Well the specialist decided that they needed more pictures so I had to go back to the hospital on Friday to have CT scans. I now have to wait for the specialist to look at them and get back to me with what they are going to do next.
This is my foot in its boot.

I have been signed off work for 2 weeks at the moment as I work in a factory stood on my feet for 8 hours a day. When they decide what to do next then I may need longer off. I am going to have to learn to power my machine with the other foot and do more hand sewing. I am making good progress on my quilt as it is all hand sewing. I will post more about that with photos another day.

I am so clumsy that I have in the past fractured my wrist 3 times - the same bone each time (fell over a football, fell over the dogs bed - the 3rd time it didn't heal from the 2nd time)  My sister in law told me that my 16 month old nephew can manage the stairs better than i can!!

Friday, 1 July 2011

Learn your tools

One of the lessons I have learnt whilst setting up my business is to ensure you have the correct tools and learn how to use them correctly. When I used to sew just for myself I used to get by with whatever I had to hand. That was fine then but now I have learnt to use the best and use it properly.

I thought I would share my top ten tools:

  1. The best sewing machine you can afford. As this is something you will be using for the majority of the time then you need to buy the best that you can afford but also the best for the job. There is no point in spending money on an embroidery machine if you are never going to embroider. If possible visit a showroom where you can try out a variety of machines to find the best one for you. once you have purchased your machine read the manual. I also ensure the manual is close at hand so whenever I am sewing so if I get a problem then I can look it up. Practice and get used to your machine before embarking on any major projects.
  2. A decent iron. You need to constantly have your iron on as pressing seams is an important part of construction. I also found that the heavier the iron the better but you don't need to have an all singing all dancing iron as long as it can produce steam. Learn the difference between how the iron acts with different fabrics, on different temperatures, with and without steam, with and without moisture (water). Also invest in a decent press cloth (or make one) as these are the best thing when pressing sewing projects.
  3. Great scissors. I have a variety of scissors, a pair for different thicknesses of fabric - one for delicate (satin, chiffon, etc), one for tougher (denim, cotton, etc), one for cutting paper patterns, pinking shears, thread snips. It isn't really necessary to have all these but make sure you have separate pairs for cutting fabric and paper - never use the same pair for both as the paper blunts the blades and they can then end up tearing the fabric. Also make sure that the fabric scissors are kept as sharp as possible and above all never let anyone else near them!!!
  4. A good cutting area. When you are cutting you need to be able to spread the fabric and pattern out. If you have to keep moving the fabric around chances are the pattern will slip and you will end up with inaccurately cut pieces which will make fitting difficult (if not impossible). Learn what surface is best for the majority of fabrics you will cut. If you cut mainly lightweight fabrics then you may require a non slip surface, if cutting heavyweight fabrics you will require a surface that can support the bulk of the fabric. If you have too small an area to cut and have to hang fabric off the cutting surface this can distort the grain of the fabric and this in turn will affect the cut and finish of the garment.
  5. Good quality thread. When sewing you need to use the best thread that is available. You might think that buying cheaply in bulk is greater value for your business but in the long run this isn't true as the thread will break, seams will start to undo. The thread will also not be able to hold up to the wear and tear a garment goes through especially on areas where there is a lot of stress, like on closures or any seam where there is a lot of movement (crouch seams on trousers, etc) However when deciding on your thread you need to learn what thread suits what fabric. There are plenty of websites to help with this - just google sewing thread types.
  6. Marking tools. When it come to sewing you need to mark all types of things on fabric - seam lines, dart, etc but also fitting lines if you need to make adjustments. When marking darts I normally use tailors tacks but sometimes a semi permanent mark is required. I use many marking tools - pencil, vanishing fabric pen, dressmakers chalk. However be very careful what you use and where you use it. Always check on a scrap piece of you fabric 1st to ensure the mark will disappear as there is nothing worse than spending ages making something to find at the end that the marks are visible. Assemble a variety of marking tools and test them on different types of fabric, keep this in a scrapbook or something similar so you will always have future reference.
  7. Needles. Both hand needles and machine needles need to be sharp and smooth. Sometimes a needle can get a little nick and then this will catch on the fabric causing snags. The same applies to blunt needles, they will not pierce the fabric freely and this will cause unsightly holes and marks. Also make sure you are using the correct needle for the fabric and project. It is no good trying to use a tapestry needle to embroider satin. Again just google sewing needle guides for charts explaining the different types and there uses.
  8. Pins. When pinning fabrics together think of the type of pins required. Use glass headed pins on delicate fabrics, anything with a large head that will show on thick fabrics (tweed.etc) bright coloured pins on dark fabrics and vice versa on coloured fabrics ( never use the same colour as the fabric unless you want to become a colander) When you have finished sewing always double check your garment is pin free, you can double check this by running a magnet over your garment, any pins left will pull the garment section towards the magnet.
  9. Seam ripper. I have found this to be one of my best friends while sewing. Not only used as a seam ripper but also for cutting buttonholes. A seam ripper has many uses just be careful as they are sharp.
  10. Tape measure. I have several of these and also a metre stick. I use them for measuring everything related to my sewing but you need to make sure you stick to the same unit for each garment. Do Not start measuring in inches but then half way through a sewing project change to Cm's as this will just through everything out of proportion. The same applies to you metre stick - don't try to use this to measure curves or corners.
Listed below are a few more tools I have in my kit.
Lint brush/cloth. I use this for ensure my work area is clean and for giving the sewing machine needle/plate are a dusting down to get rid of any loose fibres.
Screw driver set - used for changing needles, light bulbs, etc.
Tailors ham, sleeve roll- not strictly necessart but come in reallt useful and give professional finishes.

Above all have fun with sewing learning what is right and what is wrong. However what is right or wrong for one person is not for another.


Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Recent handmade cards

Just thought I would share a few of my recent cards, some for fathers day and some for my parents anniversary.

The card above and below have been stamped and coloured using watercolour pencils.

This card has been stamped and coloured using promarkers.

Teabag backing paper.
The background on the above card has been made by scrunching up a piece of paper, opening as flat as possible then giving it a wash of teabag leaves diluted with water and allowing to dry.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Craft fairs=decision time

First I want to apologise for not blogging for so long but I have had a couple of craft fairs and have been so busy trying to get ready for them. Now I am wondering why I bothered.
The 1st event I attended was a pamper evening at a school. This was arranged through the PTA and they said they had such a successful event last year they had to extend it by an hour. They were also offering pamper treatments alongside the stalls. When I arrived it all looked really goo, plenty of variation on the type of stalls selling items. However when people started to arrive all they seemed interested in was the free drink and the treatments. Hardly anyone even looked at the stalls let alone buy anything. I just thought oh well onto the next one.
The 2nd event I had booked was at a helicopter museum. I attended an event just before Xmas at the same venue but due to the weather (event was held in between snow storms) hardly anyone attended. I thought I would give it another shot with better weather. But this time the turnout was even worse, I think there was only about 3 women all day and I need women to buy my items. It was a 2 day event but I couldn't face the 2nd day so didn't bother going back. I know that's not really the attitude to have when running a business but I weighed up the time I would lose sitting there against what I could accomplish at home working.
I have got another event booked for August at a steam event where they have a craft marque. Hopefully that event will be better.
I have however decided after all these let downs that if I don't sell anything (or even just a few things) at the next event then I am going to give up craft fairs and card making to concentrate on the sewing side of my business. I have already started to scale down the card making side anyway but this will be the final test.
I am going to try to get into a few trade wedding shows to see if that helps my business as this is the route that I want to go down anyway.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Football is more than a game

I know this may not be something that interests most of you but to me it is a way of life.
I have always liked watching football as my dad is a big football fan and it has rubbed off.
A couple of years (ok 6years) ago I decided to go and watch a game live with him (Bristol Rovers)
Since that day I have gone to as many games as possible, have a season ticket and make sure I don't arrange anything for a saturday afternoon. During the 6 years I have seen some good times and some bad. I have been to Wembley and to Cardiff to watch the gas (Rovers nickname), seen them get promoted.
One of the worst days was on saturday as the gas got relegated. This is the 1st time I have experienced this and it was heartbreaking. When I have seen people cry over football on TV I have thought don't be silly but on saturday I could quite easily have become one of them people.
I truly believe that if you follow football and support a team (especially a local team) then football is more than just a game as some people might say and think - it is a way of life. A lot of feeling is involved and you feel all the highs and all the lows as the season progresses.
Football is also a good way to meet new like minded people. I have made some good friends through football as we alsways stand in the same place and so have got to know the people around us who are there for the same reason so straight away you have something in common with them.

I wouldn't be without football in my life and will watch it for as long as I can.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Business not personal

One of the biggest lessons that I am learning whilst setting up my business is that some people ask things but then never get back to you. This is down to business and not meant personally towards you.
I have had a few email queries asking about my clothing alterations and how much I charge for certain jobs, once I have given them a rough price (I always tell the customer it is a rough price as until I have seen the item I cannot say the exact price or even if it is possible for the alteration to be done)
I do offer a free consultation for all customers to assess the work required and give a definite price but after the email some customers don't even want to take me up on this offer.
I know that I am not charging too much as other people charge more than me but I think I charge a fair price for my skills.
I have also had people ask if I could do an alteration but then tell me what needs doing or how long they think it will take me - I just think that if they know this information why do they not do the alteration themselves?
However I think that all this is down to business decisions and money decisions not personal feelings towards myself. If I took all these no replies personally then I would have given up by now.
I am however getting quite a few jobs through google and my website so people obviously think my prices are OK.
I am getting bigger jobs as well so am going to have to look at getting some sort of warehouse/workshop to work from as my current workshop is not big enough (if you know of anywhere in the Bristol area please let me know)

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Design Ideas

I have been having a play around with some different dress bodice designs this evening.
A couple of months ago I made myself a mini mannequin so I have used that and some scraps of fabric that I have to drape some ideas that I have had in my mind for a while.
I am happy with the one idea and am now going to buy some satin as it will need lining due to being made from chiffon.It will be made from a plain red chiffon as an evening/bridesmaid dress. I am also on the lookout for some gems/stones as I am going to make the shoulder a big feature. (pictures are below)
The back of the dress will be straight across with either a zip fastening or buttons (haven't decided which yet). There will also be the option of having an inner corset to give shaping to the body. The skirt of the dress will be available in either knee length or floor length and will be A line in shape so will skim the body.
The second idea wasn't quite what I had imagined so I am going to see if I can tweak it slightly before I purchase any fabric.

Please let me know what you think of the designs.
Close up of shoulder detail. Across the ruching will
be stones/gems to make a feature of shoulder.

Another view of shoulder detail

Basic shape idea of dress

shoulder design idea - not sure about this as wanted lower fabric to lay flat

A different option for shoulder detail

close up of shoulder detail

Monday, 28 March 2011

Where to start

I have decided to make myself a whole new summer wardrobe., mainly dresses and skirts. Now normally I live in tracksuit bottoms and football shirts but I have decided that it is time for a change.
Before I had my operation I had an hourglass figure but never really appreciated it. However after putting on weight and slowly losing it I am getting this figure back again and this time I am going to appreciate it and to do this I am changing my wardrobe.
The only problem I am having is deciding which pattern to try first. I also have some of my own designs that I would like to try. I am drawn towards vintage styles that have very defined waists.
I have managed to narrow my list of patterns down to about 50 LOL.

What is your favourite pattern and which would you recommend?

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

weight gain = new clothes

I thought I would follow up on a comment I made in my last blog about my weight gain.
In dec 2009 I had really bad stomach cramps - they were so bad I ended up in hospital on gas and air (I love that stuff LOL)
The doctor could find nothing wrong and sent me home. This happened again in early Jan 2010 and again the doctors could find nothing wrong. They thought at first that it was a really bad water infection gave me antibiotics, when this didn't work they thought it could be endometriosis. The doctor sent me for a scan but this came back as being clear. The whole time I was still suffering really bad cramps which were like the worst period pains I had ever had with the added bonus of a stitch. By Feb 2010 I was signed off work as I couldn't lift anything or even move sometimes.
I went back to the doctor countless times but they couldn't pinpoint the problem then when I was talking to someone I know they mentioned a hernia. At my next doctors appointment I asked if that could be my problem, so he had a feel around and said yes it could be. So off for more scans and more doctors appointments. Eventually at the end of Feb 2010 the doctor decided yes I did have a hernia and sent me off to a specialist. They then decided to operate on me as it could erupt and cause further problems. I had the operation in March 2010. It then took me 3 months to slowly build my strength back up to return to work.
For the 1st month and a half I couldn't do any sort of exercise due to the stitches and mesh that had been used as scaffolding (as the doctor put it). By the time I went back to work in June 2010 I had put on 3 stone in weight.
I then had to go and buy some new clothes in a larger size. I also decided to make more clothes for myself as I could find hardly anything I liked in this new size.
I have now slowly lost 1 stone of the weight - only another 2 stone to go until I'm back to my pre-op weight.
The plus side is that I have now got no pain but will always have to be careful as if I overstrain the mesh the hernia will come back.
While I was off work I done a lot of research into my own business so that also helped me.

Now onwards and upwards - my targets now are to lose more weight and to make my business sufficient enough to support me without any other job.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

McCalls M5319

I have a couple of special occasions to go to this year but due to an operation last year I have gone up in clothes size so none of my dresses fit me at the moment (am on my way back to previous size but that is for another blog)
I decided I would make myself this dress (I am doing view A)

Going by the measurements on the pattern envelope I had to make a size 16 which I knew would be too big around the waist (I have a small waist even though the rest of me is larger LOL)
I have made the mock up of the dress out of calico (will add photos later) and had a fitting this morning.
The fit was quite good everywhere except, as I thought, on the waist. I have to take it in by 1cm under each arm as the underarms were gaping and then need to lose 2cms each side at the waist. 
I am making the dress out of petrol blue taffeta which has pale peach embroidered flowers all over it. Instead of adding a lace panel under the bust I am going to be using a plain petrol blue taffeta.
I haven't decided on the length yet, the toile was just below my knees but I can't decide whether to leave it that length or shorten to just above the knee.

Will post updates and progress as it happens.
Has anyone else made this dress, if so how did it go?
before being pinned for alteration front view

before being pinned for alteration back view

after being pinned for alteration front view

close up view of front pinned alterations.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

From tight to perfect

A customer emailed 2 weeks ago asking if I could add a zip to a top she had purchased in the sales.
When she tried it on it was slightly too tight around under her arms - it was too tight by mere millimetres. It wasn't tight and pulling but it had elastic around the top and that was digging into her.
I told her that I would need to see the top first so she came for a consultation. The top was made from stretch fabric as the under layer with a chiffon overlay. I told her that it would be fine to do then I started to unpick the seam to insert the zip. The chiffon just started to fray as soon as I released the stitching (which was done using a commercial overlocker) so I had to overlock the edges as soon as I could. There was also not a lot of seam allowance so when I inserted the zip I had to make sure that I lined it up as close to the edge as possible. I used a concealed zip so it was important that I kept the seam allowance at the same place all along the zip so that it would look right and none of the zip was visible.
Once I had inserted the zip I was surprised at how well it blended in with the top. I was also pleased with how well I had completed the job and the top fit the lady in question so it was a good outcome all round plus a bit more experience for me for future jobs.

I have included a couple of after pics of the top, (unfortunately I forgot to take any pics before hand)


Monday, 21 February 2011

Feeling SEW low

Well I have now had a cold and cough since November 2010.
Went to the doctors and was put on a weeks course of antibiotics, now finished but still have the cold/cough. Another visit to the doctors Weds morning, let's see what they say this time.
The up side to being ill is I have had time off work (most of it spent in bed) which means when I feel up to it I can sew. Although all I have managed to sew so far is a plastic protector for the dogs bed LOL.
But while I have been off 2 customers have contacted me for dressmaking work.
The 1st customer didn't end up using my services as she wanted me to make bridesmaid dresses from scratch for £80, this was also to include the cost of fabrics. When I told her how much I would charge she decided to go elsewhere.
The 2nd customer wanted a zip inserted into a top as it is slightly to small (talking mere millimetres here) so came for a fitting and is happy for me to do the work for her.

Hopefully will be fitting fit again soon so that I can get back to normal and do more sewing.
Also back to the full time job on Weds so need my energy levels back.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Introducing Sirinadesigns

My last post was about me so I thought I would now introduce my company Sirinadesigns.
Sirinadesigns was started in January 2010. I have been talking about starting a business for about 5 years but never felt confident in my own sewing abilities.
I was taught to sew by my Nan when I was about 7 years old and have been sewing ever since. I then went on to do a GNVQ in art & design at college followed by two NVQ's in pattern cutting but still didn't feel my work was good enough to sell.
I made my best friends wedding dress in 2005 and had lots of lovely compliments about it on the day and I was happy with the results but then life got in the way and the business plans were put on hold.
Just after christmas 2009 my Nan fell ill and was taken into hospital at the end of January 2009. Sadly on Febuary 9th 2009 she passed away (the doctors informed us afterwards that she was riddled with cancer) and I couldn't face going into my sewing room as that was the space I shared with Nan.
Eventually towards the end of 2009 I had some sewing that just couldn't wait any longer which forced me back into sewing, which was actually a good thing. I have been sewing regularly ever since and feel close to my Nan when I am in the room.
In January 2010 I decided that I had been talking the talk for long enough and it was time to walk the walk so I launched Sirinadesigns. It is named after my Nan and my Mum (Iris and Tina)
I have got a lot more confidence in my own sewing abilities now and know that I have got what it takes to make beautiful clothes. I hope now that people also like my items and start to buy.
I am primarily a dressmaker but also do alterations and handmade cards.
Sorry for the long post but that is Sirinadesigns introduced.

Kelly (AKA Sirinadesigns)

Friday, 4 February 2011

New blog - 1st step

Hi everyone and thank you for visiting my blog.

I have been meaning to start a blog for a while now but kept putting it off as I didn't know what to say (which is unusual for me.) Now I have decided to finally take the plunge so here is my very first blog post.

I am in the process of turning my hobby and love of sewing into a business offering dressmaking and alterations in the Bristol, UK area. This blog is going to be tracking my journey in this process.

I will try to blog at least every other week but promise to try not to make it all business and boring.

So there is my 1st post done and dusted.

Please call back.