29 October 2012

A Day in the Life of Quincy - Q's Daydream

While I'm a purely selfish stitcher (mine, all mine, woohaha!), many stitchers have turned their talents into a dressmaking business. What would it be like to have your own handmade clothing company? Introducing Quincy for the latest edition of A Day in the Life, the feature which delves into the daily routines of inspirational people who have turned their love of sewing into a career. I was following this lovely lady's blog, Q's Daydream, for a while (she's an Elvis and Anna Karina fan, nuff said) before she launched her GORGEOUS collection. I literally yelped when I saw it, her clothes are soooo cute... scroll a bit further down to get a sneaky peek of her upcoming line. "Is her favourite TV programme what I think it is?" you ask. Read on...


"Hello! My name is Quincy and I have a handmade clothing line called, Q's Daydream. I just launched my first collection back in April of this year. My designs are inspired by my favorite decades in fashion, the 1940s through the 1960s. I also look to ladies like, Audrey Hepburn, Jean Seberg and Anna Karina for inspiration for my designs. As of now I run my business by myself, with occasional help from my husband Jonny. I feel truly blessed to be doing what I love every day. I hope you enjoy reading about my day!

Every weekday morning I'm lucky enough to be awoken up by my wonderful hubby Jonny. He usually comes and kisses me goodbye on his way to work, which is around 7:30am most mornings. After he leaves for work I lay in bed for a few minutes and just think about the day ahead. Once out of bed it's time to take care of my 9 month old basset hound puppy Loretta. She usually goes out in the yard for a bit and does her morning sniffing. Bassets are quiet the sniffers. While she keeps busy outside I make my breakfast. Usually cereal with almond milk. While eating breakfast I like to watch the morning news. After that Loretta comes back inside and I have my morning cup of coffee. While drinking my coffee I like to catch up on my favorite blogs and browse Pinterest for some morning inspiration.

Around 9:00am I do my morning chores. Making the bed, doing the dishing and so on. You know the fun stuff, haha! I'd like to say that most mornings I get dressed up pretty for my morning of work, but usually I stay in my pajamas. Or I'll put on one of my comfy dresses.

Then it's off to my sewing studio, which happens to be right across the hall from my bedroom. I see where I left off the day before and think about what's got to get done that day. I usually have orders to catch up on and spend from about 10:00am to 1:00pm sewing. I always have music on while I'm sewing. Usually Elvis Presley (he's my favorite!) or Big Band and Swing.

Around 1:00pm I start to get hungry for lunch. Most days I'll make myself a salad with spinach and veggies. I like to watch some TV while I eat. Right now I'm in the middle of watching the 1960s TV show Peyton Place. The episodes are about 20 minutes long, which is the perfect amount of time to take a little break.

After lunch I head back into my sewing studio and check up on emails. I usually find a minute or two to catch up on Pinterest as well, hehe. Then it's back to work! I continue wherever I left off before lunch. It's almost always an order I'm working on. Some days are busier than others. That's the nature of running your own business. You never know how busy or not busy you'll be! Lately when I'm not busy working on orders I've been working on my fall/winter collection.

Sneaky peek of the Fall/Winter collection!

Later in the afternoon, around 3:00pm I like to take a little break to take Loretta for a walk, weather permitting. It's always nice to get outside and enjoy the fresh air! Once back home I'll have an afternoon cup of coffee. Then it's back to my studio to spend a couple hours finishing up my work for the day. It's normally around 6:00pm that I feel that I've got enough done to stop for the day. Once I know what time Jonny will be home from work I'll start to plan dinner. Dinner usually consists of lots of veggies and brown rice. Some nights Jonny will cook when he's back home from work.

Once Jonny and I have had dinner we'll take Loretta for an evening walk. Then it's time to get cozy at home. We like to watch TV to settle down. My favorite TV night has to be Project Runway night! Then it's off to bed. I'll an early bird, so I'm usually in bed by 10:00pm. Then it's back to doing pretty much the same think the next day. Weekends are usually my time off. Though, sometimes I get super busy and need to get some work done. Then Monday I do it all over again, and I couldn't be happier about it!"


Thanks, Quincy! Wow, that sounds like such a pleasurable working day. Best of luck with your business and the new collection!

25 October 2012

How to Pleat a Sleeve Cap

While gathering is an adorable detail, sometimes it's nice to try something different. On my Nautical Knit Dress I added a snazzy, angular pleat to the sleeve cap instead of gathering. It was so easy to do! Here's how...

Make sure the sleeve cap has enough ease to form two pleats. In other words, the length of the top edge of your sleeve pattern needs to be at least 2" bigger than the length of the armhole of the garment you're setting it into. My sleeve cap was a whopping 4" bigger, meaning I could form a striking double pleat. You can measure curves on patterns by standing a tape measure up on its side.

When you set the sleeve into the armhole, instead of gathering that difference in length, you just want to fold it over into two pleats which meet at the shoulder. The way I did it was to pin the bottom two thirds of the sleeve cap into place in the armhole, leaving the top part loose, then play around with it until I had even pleats which met at the shoulder, then pinning and stitching into place. Depending on your fabric, you may want to press the pleats down before pinning to keep them crisp and even.

Different fabrics will obviously produce different effects. The double knit I used was quite thick and stiff, so produced a nice angular result. Softer, lighter fabrics may produce a looser, more drapey look... but still pretty!

See, I told you that was easy! If you try this on your own sleeves, do share...

20 October 2012

Nautical Knit Dress

Ooooooh!!! This dress is just so snuggly, I don't think I'm ever going to take it off!

It's made in a cosy double knit scored for £2 from Simply Fabrics in Brixton. The pattern is based on a combination of two dresses in Sew U Home Stretch, with a few changes. For example I added (high) waistline darts in the front bodice to give it a bit more shape as the fabric has relatively little stretch for a knit, and raised the back bodice waistline to balance out front and back. I also experimented with the sleeve caps to create a natty pleat instead of gathering, an effect I've been thinking of trying for a while. The little triangle shoulders look pretty sharp in stripes, non?

I find it so tempting as a stitcher to attach colourful details, and originally I intended to add red or mustard yellow buttons at the shoulders (a bit like on my hand-painted Breton top). However I resisted temptation and left the dress as more of a blank slate to be teamed with different coloured necklaces and tights (it looks awesome with red, navy, teal, dusty pink, yellow, grey... should I stop now?).

Would you judge me if I wore this every day?!

[Soundtrack:'Didn't It Rain' by Sister Rosetta Tharpe]

16 October 2012

Sewing Pattern Splurge


Okay so I haven't done this in a looooong time, but the other day I had a sewing pattern splurge. Well, three. Ahem. You know how these things happen - once I'd bought one haul, it wasn't much more effort to add a few more to my basket. And then I found a pile of vintage (1980s - that's vintage, okay?) sewing patterns in a local charity shop, which is a pretty rare find in London, so in celebration I bought the high waisted skirt pattern above. Ignore the awful illustrations, squint and imagine the skirt with a Breton top or pussy bow blouse. Oh yes.

There are worse vices to have in life, non?

Have you made any of these patterns? I've seen some lurrrrrvely versions of New Look 6000...

[Soundtrack: 'Oh Me Oh My (I'm a Fool for You Baby)' by Aretha Franklin]

14 October 2012

What's On My Sewing Table...

After a super stressy week, I've had the most blissful weekend eating scrummy pizza, having a massage, discovering nearby woodland walks and watching my guilty pleasure TV shows (Miranda, anyone?). To round it all off, I've spent Sunday afternoon getting down and dirty with paper, scissors and glue, constructing a dress pattern from Sew U Home Stretch. I found this super gorgeous stripey double knit in my local fabric store for £2. Rather than add yet another Breton top to my wardrobe (not that you can ever have too many, in my opinion, I've only got 15...), I thought I'd make a snuggly dress for weekends. Would you believe me if I said I was enjoying using my serger? I am, honest!

What's on your sewing table, please?

[Soundtrack: 'Mission Improbable' by The Herbaliser]

10 October 2012

Bow Belt for a Wedding

A very dear friend of mine got hitched last weekend and I had the honour of making... No, not the wedding dress, silly! But a bow belt to adorn the wedding dress. We saw one just like it when we went wedding dress shopping, but when the shop assistant announced it was £125, my friend gave me a look, I gave her the wink, and I made it for her instead. I made it using a bright pink silk to match her petticoat, fascinator and shoes. The design was based on the bow belt I made before (here's the tutorial) but with an extra snazzy bow. It was a wedding, after all. Doesn't she look GORGEOUS?

[Soundtrack: 'Once in a Lifetime' by Talking Heads]

5 October 2012

How to Make an Elasticated Skirt - Guest Post

Have you ever tried shirring anything? Shirrrrrring... (It's at times like these that I wish I could roll my Rs.) It's a technique I used to assume fell into the advanced category of sewing, but the elasticated skirt project below makes it sound so simple. This "how to" is an excerpt from the book Sew Over It by Lisa Comfort, owner of the sewing cafe of the same name (and whose Day in the Life you can read about here.) Over to Lisa to show us how to make it...

Lisa: "Sew Over It was born in May 2011. It was my dream to open a shop dedicated to all things sewing. We have over 30 different classes you can take, a shop full of gorgeous fabrics and kits you can buy, a drop in area where you can hire the machines and of course there's tea and cake! Colour is key to me - it lifts me - so the decor is bright, colourful and filled with lots of pink and blue (our signature colours). The book is an extension of the cafe, offering lots of ideas, inspiration and tips. It covers customising, altering vintage clothes, making accessories and some more 'from scratch' projects like the below...

Make an elasticated skirt from scratch

This is the easiest skirt to make as all you need is one piece of fabric. It is best to use lightweight woven fabric such as cotton as the gathering shows up best.


Tape measure
Woven fabric (for amount, see Steps 1 to 3)
Tailor’s chalk
Set square (optional)
Sewing machine
Pinking shears
1 large spool of shirring elastic
5 mm (¼ in) wide elastic (the length depends on your waist, see Step 11)
Safety pin

1) Measure around your hips – the skirt must be big enough to fit over your hips with enough room to flare.

2) Add approximately 20 cm (8 in) to your hip measurement for the flare. You will also need an extra 2 cm ( ¾ in) for seam allowance. For example, the width of fabric you will need could be:
100 cm (39 in) (hip) +
20 cm (8 in) (flare) +
2 cm (. in) (seam allowance) =
122 cm (47. in).

3) Decide on the length. The design of this skirt is so that it sits on the waist, but you can wear it lower on your hips if you want. Remember to add a 2 cm ( ¾ in) seam allowance for the top hem and another 2 cm ( ¾ in) for the bottom hem.

4) Iron the fabric and then draw out your rectangle on the wrong side using the ruler and tailor’s chalk. Draw the length of the skirt in line with the selvedge and the width running across the fabric. You may find it useful to use a set square to help you get accurate 90° angles (or you can use the edges of a book). Cut out on the lines.

5) Now for some stitching. Place the two shorter edges right sides together and pin in place. Stitch together with a 1 cm ( ½ in) seam allowance. Trim with pinking shears and press the seam open. This is the centre back seam. You will now have a tube shape.

6) While you are at the ironing board you can prepare the top and bottom hems. For the bottom hem, fold up 1 cm ( ½ in) to the inside of the skirt. Press. Then fold up another 1 cm ( ½ in) and press. For the top hem, fold over 5 mm ( ¼ in) to the inside. Press. Then fold over another 1.5 cm (5/8 in) and press. Pop some pins in to keep the folded edges in place.

7) Stitch down both hems, starting and finishing at the seam. On the top hem leave a 2 cm ( ¾ in) gap for the 5 mm ( ¼ in) wide elastic. Reverse stitch at either side of this to prevent the stitches unravelling. Edge stitching looks best, so use a straight stitch to sew 2 mm (1⁄8 in) from the inner folded edge. Go slowly so that you always catch the edge.

8) Now it’s time to use the shirring elastic. Wind the shirring elastic onto the bobbin like you would do with normal thread. You will probably have to do this a few times as this skirt uses a lot. Thread up your sewing machine with the normal sewing thread on top – the elastic only goes in the bobbin underneath.

9) Set your machine to straight stitch with a stitch length of 2.5 and with the needle in the middle position. Starting from the centre back seam of the skirt – approximately 1 cm ( ½ in) from the stitch line of the top hem – sew as straight as you can using a guide point on the machine. Continue all the way round until you get back to where you started. Make sure your stitch meets and reverse at the start and end as usual.

10) Repeat this for as many lines as you want (I stitched 12 rows), always using the previous line as a guide, lining the edge of the presser foot up against the stitch line so that all the rows are parallel. It gets harder with each line as you have to contend with the elastic doing its magic! Stretch it out as best you can so that the part you are sewing is as flat as possible.

11) To work out how much 5 mm ( ¼ in) wide elastic you will need, tie it around your waist and stretch it a little, but so it is still comfortable. Cut, allowing an extra 2 cm ( ¾ in) for the overlap to join the two ends.

12) Attach a safety pin to one end of the elastic and push the safety pin through the hem to thread through the elastic. Make sure you don’t let go of the other end.

13) Then overlap the two ends by 1 cm ( ½ in) and stitch together. An overstitch would do it – the main thing is that it holds firmly, so use a double thread. It doesn’t need to be neat as it won’t be seen. Hand or machine stitch the gap in the hem to close it."

Tada! Thanks Lisa, it's so cute! I'm definitely going to have to give this a try with some of my stash fabric...

2 October 2012

Imaginary Fabric Shopping

I haven't done one of these posts for quite some time, so indulge me a little here. Sometimes all I want to do is spend half a day in my pyjamas browsing online haberdasheries for swoonsome fabric. Other people like to chillax with recreational drugs, I'm just way cooler. Here are some of the delights that have made my Pinterest board recently. Looking at the list afresh, one could almost posit a narrative in the progression from muted colours and wintry themes to a longing for the burst of Spring...


[Soundtrack: 'Hospital' by Jesca Hoop]