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Toria Howell
30 June 2010 @ 11:22 am

Finally. Finally! This is finished. Due to my procrastination this has taken me far longer than it should have but I am no longer scared of button holes thanks to my fabulous sewing machine that does it all for me. Literally. All I do is put the pedal to the metal. I lurves button holes! These were my first button holes ever and have come out fabulously, I'm so pleased!

Mum was right, sewing the sleeve and side seam all in one long swoop is infinitely easier. After making some tiny pleat/ gathers along the arm scythe to make the extra fabric fit I just whizzed along the sleeve seam, down the side seam and voila! one side done. Gorffen*. Finis.

I'm not happy with the hem, I just rolled and rolled again and then straight stitched down as I wasn't sure what else to do and the instructions for the blind hem stitch on my machine were a little off putting. It's resulted in the two puckers you can see at the bottom front where I hit the facing and interfacing but as the shirt is designed to be tucked in I don't care!

I still don't have a clue about gussets. Mum did those for me whilst I was ... well, I was rummaging in the fridge for more coke and making marmite on toast if I'm honest but that's what Mum's are for ;)  I think if I ever make anything that requires gussets I'll have to investigate a better way to do it than the method laid out in this pattern.

And finally, a note on my pose; I thought I'd copy the pose of the view that I sewed to make it easier to figure out which one is the right one. I'm desperately trying not to laugh in the picture so please excuse me and my glasses (I forgot to take them off first like usual). And an apology to Mena for totally ripping off her image layout for a new garment, I really liked it and hope you don't mind!

This is the first completed item for my pledges for Summer Essential Sew-Along and Sewing With A Plan. Woo and indeed hoo!

Notes to Remember

1) Attach the neck facing to the shoulder seams so the collar sits properly, but allow enough fabric at the back of the neck to ensure it sits flat. I didn't on this project and so I couldn't sew the facing down.
2) Don't bother with interfacing the front pieces next time, just stick with facing.
3) Get Mum to sew all your gussets as you still don't have a clue.

First impressions of sewing with a vintage pattern/ sewing my first piece of clothing:</div>
1) You are expected to have some modicum of common sense. Unfortunately, when it comes to sewing I seem to lose all mine. I had to recut the tie collar because I thought it would be best to sew the two pieces together after I'd stitched around the outsides. I know, I know, don't ask me what I was thinking, I obviously wasn't. Thankfully, the recut version went together perfectly.

2) Do not put anything with TV boyfriend David (Tennant) in it on the box to keep you company whilst sewing. This Does Not Help with concentration. Nor does anything to do with the Twilight Universe. Or Callum (Keith Rennie). In fact, steer clear of anything to do with brooding vampires or TV boyfriends (especially TV boyfriends with exciting clavicles and tantalising glimpses of chest hair**) whilst sewing. This should mean that you'll remember to sew the two collar pieces together before having to turn in the right way.

3) Follow the gorram instructions! That way maybe you won't have to recut the collar. Oh, and learn the difference between interfacing and facing please.

4) Listen to your Mother. She's usually right, you know this, why do you constantly fail to remember this?

5) Strangely, despite having made clothes before (albeit a long time ago) I think I was expecting to just go whizz whizz whizz, hey presto a piece of clothing that looks like something you could buy in a store but more to my taste. What I've got is a shirt that looks okay, I don't think you can tell it's handmade - which, frankly, is a miracle! - but to me it's obviously not store bought not because it's badly put together but because the size of the facing in the front that's clearly visible through the thin polycotton I used. Either I wasn't supposed to use such a thin material or the 50's had different ideas over facing sizes in comparison to today's cheapskate clothing companies.

6) Shirt's from the 50's appear to be a lot shorter than contemporary shirts, probably because they were more often than not going to be tucked into a higher waistband than today's bottoms. If I'm going to make any shirts that may not be tucked in on every wear then I'll have to remember to lengthen the pattern to accomodate that.

All in all I count this one as a win, despite the bad hemming, help from Mum, the too ripped top buttonhole (I got a little rip happy) and the neck facing I can't sew down. I don't think any of those things are really visible and I'm chalking this one up as a yay to me as a result.

* I should probably mention my off and on habit of writing the odd word in other languages. I tend to write just like I speak and as I'm saying the sentances in my head as I write them, occasionally I'll pop out with foreign words. I don't know why, I just like it. The languages are Welsh and French. French I speak a little, Welsh I don't really know other than the odd word (hence why it's only bits and pieces here!). I'd love to learn Welsh but can't afford a course. My favourite words are probably pobty ping meaning microwave (bakery/ oven and ping for the noise it makes, this is slang not the proper Welsh name) and gwdihw which means owl and is pronounced much like the noise it makes (goid i hoi is as close as I can come to writing it down). Oh and the number 5: pimp (pronounced more like pump but I'm easily amused)

** Ack, whilst google imaging for pics of DT to illustrate said drool worthy look I was a little shocked to see my own face pop up as picture number 5 but then that's what happens when you worked for BBC Wales I suppose! I didn't find the one I wanted though so screen capped it myself instead (see disk 1 of the Series 3 Doctor Who box set, Music & Monsters for the full glory) ... mmmmmm, Daaaavid.
Current Mood: proud
Toria Howell
26 April 2010 @ 09:55 am
I took the wolf up the mountain this morning. We wandered for about two hours, not quite lost but a little ... misplaced. It's a little difficult to commune with nature when you're being jerked around by a dog as large as a human on an extend-a-lead, but we did the best we could.

There's supposed to be some burial mounds over the mountain (mynydd in Welsh) but I've not found them so far. Today was my third attempt with no luck, but I did manage to find the old slag heaps at the top.

Below are some photos I took whilst out and about. There are some beautiful trees up there, lost in a sea of pine needles. The sheep weren't happy to see the wolf and we got yelled at a few time by mothers trying to keep us away from their lambs.

The walk up is quite steep and I'm not hill walking fit despite walking several miles a day, every day, with the wolf.

The path leads up and along the village facing slope, leading further and further into the trees. Traffic noise begins to fall away and the noise of rushing water gets louder. It's muddy and rocky and the path is all cut up from the dirt bikes, it's a gruelling slope, but it's beautiful and so, so quiet. The squirrels ran about, teasing the wolf and making him jump and pull at the lead, unfortunately I knew there were sheep and lambs loose among the trees so letting him off wasn't an option.

The trees started to crowd the higher you go and the path started to disappear. The only option available was to keep climbing. It's not quite as bad as the slope I once had to climb on my hands and knees due to the incline but it's not far off. 20 minutes in and I was on my third rest stop!

After what seems like an eternity climbing, stumbling over the stones of the path, I finally noticed grass and the sound of sheep through the trees. The ground leveled out, making walking easier, and we followed a sheep and her lamb through a gate-less wall and into a meadow. The view behind was reminiscent of Fangorn Forest, except walled and slightly less forbidding. There's safety in those trees for those that need it.

The meadow stretched out, higher still and became rolling, mist covered hills for as far as the eye can see. There's a whole other world up there, hidden from sight by the trees on the lower slopes. The sheep, the farmers and the dirt bikers seem to be the only ones in the know. And now me and the wolf know too.

The ground up there still rough, with steep inclines in places. Behind, the sound of motorbikes was getting louder and louder and in moment of panic I hopped off the path to keep from being mown down, but the engines cut out before they reached us. After glimpsing the coal slags and not seeing a way through, I turned back to head for the wall and the forest.

Greeting the bikers (after all, I wanted them to be on the look out for me as they race through the trees!), I returned to the forest, following one of the small roads.

There are trees here the likes of which I've not seen before. Twisting into the air, moss covered and unique in their little patch of sunlight.

These are the hidden beauties of the forest. If I can figure out how to find them again I think I'll be a regular visitor.

Wearily, I wandered past. Home is a down-hill climb away, a knee breaking descent with a longed for and hard earned cup of tea waiting at the other end. In fact, the idea of joining the wolf for a nap seemed like a better idea with every step!

After two hours we finally reached home. There was some nervousness, brought on in part by losing my bearings and in part by the crazy men racing through the trees on motorbikes. Thankfully neither caused us any serious problems and I'll probably return to the mountain later this week. Possibly armed with a map. And a compass.

Please note that these photographs are copyright and should not be used or posted elsewhere without my permission.
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Toria Howell
24 April 2010 @ 06:48 pm
To top it off, an idiot driver (in a 4x4 truck) pulled out on to the roundabout whilst I was still on it and tried to force me over so he could go off my exit but I couldn't. Two roundabouts in (the first being the exit from the village). Two roundabouts in to my 45 minute journey!

Am I being punished??!
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Toria Howell
24 April 2010 @ 06:48 am
I decided, a few days ago, that I need to cultivate a more Zen-like attitude to things like idiot drivers and being late or my mother phoning for IT advice and then ignoring everything I tell her and just pushing random things whilst I sit frustrated unable to tell what the hell she's doing.

It had actually been going quite well. Until this morning. Please, note the time of this post. I have been up an hour, scrubbing my duvet and washing the duvet cover, mattress cover and sheet. Because I have a serial peeing cat. This is the third (yes, read that again, third) time he's done this on my bed. Second whilst I've been in the bed at the time. He has a cat litter tray downstairs that he uses quite happily all the other times he wants to pee. I am going to kill him. Zenly of course, but kill him I will.

And to top it off, I baked yesterday and it failed. Epically. I left the cake out to cool off and then forgot about it so now it is unrisen and stale. I'd go back to bed but I have no blankets left.
Toria Howell
15 April 2010 @ 03:31 pm
My computer did a terrible thing, it ate all my emails, my files, my pictures of my nephew and basically refused to play ball. This has been a hard lesson learned in backing up bookmarks and emails and photos (not to mention having a computer that doesn't do things like that).

But the silver lining to this cloud has been the time to start and finish the vanilla scented strawberry (I didn't have any strawberry scent), to finish the pink Lil' Miss Dawg for my friend's little girl and finally, but by no means least, the opportunity to fall madly in love. Again.

I missed Pushing Daisies the first time 'round. I'd like to think I had a good reason for missing something so delightful, perhaps it was on whilst I was living in Australia, but I honestly don't remember.

It doesn't really matter as I've found it now, better late than never. And what a visual feast! It instantly reminded me of Amelie, exaggerated colours and sets. The scripts were witty, the premise was wonderfully weird and yet perfectly acceptable. Hell, there were plot holes a mile wide but it didn't matter because it was beautiful and full of sentiment. Oh, and the costumes, ooh the costumes ... as Olive likes to say: O.M.G.!

I found the series through my love of Michael from Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day. Lee Pace was adorable and I instantly wanted to peruse the rest of his career. I'd read of the costumes in Pushing Daisies from another vintage blogger and when I discovered that not only was he in it but the lead, and sharing the lead was Anna Friel (I love her!), I knew I just had to watch.

And now I'm feeling sad, alone and Pie Hole-less after watching the final episode of the final series. There are no more adventures to be had vicariously with Olive, Emmerson, Ned and Chuck. That particular delicious pie did not fill my stomach and I'm craving more. Perhaps, after a suitable mourning period for a series that was cut too short for my liking, I'll go back and rewatch from episode one.

In fact, I know I will because I can't get enough of Anna Friel's costumes.
Current Mood: in love
Toria Howell
31 March 2010 @ 09:17 pm
I've just come home from walking the dog, I like going up to the field when it's dark because a) I know no one else is stoopid enough to go walking their dog up there at night b) nothing will distract the wolf from coming back because of a) and c) should anyone be stoopid enough to walk their dog up there at night they generally stop after the wolf appears at full run from the darkness headed straight for them.

The view from the field is pretty awesome, even at night. I live part way up a valley wall. The village runs along the west wall of the valley that runs north to south. At the southern end of the valley it opens out into a big bowl containing Caerphilly (Caerffili in Welsh, I'm going to teach you guys Welsh words if it kills me! Hee!) and its castle. Beyond the town are more mountains, on the other side of which is Cardiff (Caerdydd).

Usually Caerdydd is a distant memory, being invisible on the other side of mountains and all. Tonight it was yelling loudly and jumping up and down for attention. In other words, big green lasers were shooting up from Caerdydd and stretching their way across the sky.

My first thought was that aliens were landing. My second was that maybe the Doctor had something to do with it. Unfortunately, my friends in the know say otherwise. So maybe aliens really are landing. Or there's a really big shindig going on, sans fireworks but with lasers and possibly the Star Wars theme which would be impossible to hear 20 miles away.

My friends think I'm nuts, hallucinating and unable to take video because of the strait-jacket I'm in. They can't see any lights from their flat (on the ground floor). Personally I just think someone's having a hell of a party and am wondering where my invite went.
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Toria Howell
Big Crazy (aka Bear the wolf-dog) has taken to jumping on me whenever Little Crazy (aka Puck the kitten) comes anywhere near me. Which is, unfortunately for my lap, often. Bear weighs almost as much as I do and is only an inch or so shorter than me when he stands on his back legs (there's a reason I called him Bear!), I can hear my knees creak every time he gets jealous.

Little Crazy is the most affectionate cat I've ever had, he wants nothing more than to curl up with a human. Unfortunately, as I'm spending quite a bit of time crafting, the easiest place he's found to curl up is on the back of my neck! As you can imagine this makes sewing a leetle difficult.

If he's not sat on the back of my head/ neck, then he's busy trying to play with my needle/ cotton/ fabric/ template/ pattern/ pins* or attempting to drink my tea or eat my snack.

All this, coupled with the running and the jumping and the chasing (often over and around my bed whilst I'm still in it), has made me just plain Crazy and I sometimes wonder if Big Crazy and Little Crazy would notice if I didn't come home.

* delete as applicable

(x-posted to Vintage Blogger)
Toria Howell
11 March 2010 @ 02:06 pm
I woke up this morning convinced it was Wednesday.

Fishy the Plumber came and completed work on my sink, no need for new waste fittings as he managed to find a universal adapter that worked. He cemented the old vent up once the waste pipes had gone through and this morning came and put the pipes outside to the drain and attached them to the wall. I am so easily pleased that I giggled all the way through making my first cup of tea from the kettle filled with water from the new sink and not having to go in a different room to the fridge to get the milk. I forsee it may be some time before I stop being excited about this.

I decided to tackle some of the painting today. So this morning I started sanding down all the walls that are dotted with filler (read: all of them). Very very dusty. Because I like being prepared I'd covered my hair with a scarf 1940's style using Solanah's of Vixen Vintage helpful post on how to tie it properly found here. As you can see, the results (for once) turned out correctly! Although I do need a bigger scarf (or a smaller head).

1940&apos;s Head Scarf

And then - rather thankfully! - Mum called to invite me over tomorrow to watch some lambs being born (if the photos don't come out too gory I'll post them this weekend). She asked when the roofers were coming to re-line my chimney in preparation for the Aga on Monday. Thursday I told her. Today's Thursday, she said. No, today's Wednesday, I said. Are you sure? She asked. I had to admit that now she was asking I wasn't so I double checked and then hurriedly hung up as the roofers were due in a couple of hours and I needed to shower and get to the bank to get their money!

As I was driving out the main road through the village a big black van with a very large ladder pulled in to my turning and I knew that was my roofers. I'd left my front door and back door unlocked in case of just such an occurrence and when they phoned to ask if it was okay to arrive an hour early they were shocked to learn the doors were open and the wolf wouldn't eat them.

So I am all clean and tidy, talking to various people about kittens (don't ask) with two guys making a huge amount of sooty mess in my brand new kitchen and clambering about on my roof. So exciting!

WOLF ATE: Not the roofers, yay!
WEATHER: Actually quite warm, I went to town without a coat
CURRENT OBSESSION: 1940/50's vintage robe
CURRENT PROJECT: Baby Bear Hat @ 75% done
CURRENTLY READING: Sew Pretty Homestyle, still working on deciding the hot water bottle pattern
HOUSE UPDATE: Kitchen sink, check. Roofers re-lining chimney, check. Tiling planned for Sat, check!
WRITING UPDATE: I'm supposed to have started serious work on Unforgettable, instead I think I'm a rubbish writer
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Toria Howell
09 March 2010 @ 09:51 pm
I am sooo bored! No one wants to hire me and I'm losing the will when it comes to DIY. Fishy the Plumber came this afternoon to plumb in my kitchen sink but the standard Ikea fittings for the waste are to EU specifications instead of UK and so don't fit our pipes. This means no kitchen sink and probably £30 or more to replace the Ikea waste fittings with proper UK ones. Yet another thing Ikea don't tell you about their kitchens (the first being that they have no space behind the cupboards built in for pipes and stuff, the cupboards go directly on the walls with no gaps).

On the plus side the chimney people are arriving Thursday afternoon to sort out re-lining the chimney and putting a new pot and clamping plate at the top. This is Very Exciting.

Not quite as exciting as some of the new vintage dressmaking patterns I've ordered off Ebay for £1 or so! The most exciting is a 1940's dressing gown pattern:

1940/50&apos;s Vintage Wrap Robe

How gorgeous is that?! I need something to do. I'm bored sick of DIY, and the kitchen's nearly done so it's not like that's going to last forever. So I shall do the sewing instead! Hopefully. Stay tuned!

WOLF ATE: Again with the mugging!
WEATHER: Blue skies, blue skies! Bloody freezing though!
CURRENT OBSESSION: 1940/50's vintage robe
CURRENT PROJECT: Baby Bear Hat @ 75% done
CURRENTLY READING: Sew Pretty Homestyle, still working on deciding the hot water bottle pattern
HOUSE UPDATE: Kitchen sink half done
WRITING UPDATE: I'm supposed to have started serious work on Unforgettable, instead I think I'm a rubbish writer