Monday, 17 December 2012

Christmas tree decorations - a tutorial

This is possibly the quickest and simplest way to use up your fabric scraps and make some toddler/cat proof decorations for the tree! They take very little time to make and all you need are some fabric scraps and stuffing - I used toy stuffing but if you don't have any you could easily use cotton wool.

Take your scraps (around 3" x 3" is best) and lay them together with the WRONG sides facing. Draw the shape that you want to make using a fabric pencil or marker - I used a glass to draw round mine.

Using the edge of your presser foot as a guide, stitch inside the line that you've drawn, leaving a small gap so you can stuff later.

Remember to backstitch at the beginning and end. Using a small amount, gently push the stuffing into your decoration, taking care not to overfill as it's then tricky to sew closed! When you've filled it, sew the opening closed and tie off the ends by hand.

Using pinking shears, trim around the shape using the line that you marked earlier. Thread a piece of cotton through the top, knot and hang on your tree! So simple.

Tada! This is our last post before Christmas - we hope you all enjoy the festive season. We'll be back sometime in the new year with exciting pattern testing news!

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

A list for Santa

Really? Is it that time of year AGAIN? It seems like no time ago at all that we were prepping for last Christmas. Not that I'm complaining - I absolutely adore the festive season. And as we're feeling pretty smug, with most of the xmas shopping complete, it's time to think about what's going on our xmas wishlists. You know, just in case anybody feels the need to buy us armfuls of presents...

Some might say that the ombre trend has had its day, but these tights by Virivee are AH-MAZ-ING. In my naivety I tried to make myself a pair of these in the summer, only to discover that lycra doesn't dye that well...

A sweet acorn necklace by Antonia Ross, to wear on wintery walks in the woods with loved ones.

Obviously not for me (although if they came in bigger sizes I would be tempted - even if I'd look mad), this lobster hat and mittens would make any little dude in your life look more adorable than they already are.

It's pretty chilly out there and apparently it's going to be the coldest winter for years, so wrap up in one of Bless the Weather's cosy cowls. The lady who makes these also has a wonderful blog featuring
beautiful photography of London life - a lot of it South London based (whoop!)

Oh, I do love the V&A. I could spend HOURS in there. Ok ok, so a lot of that time of it would likely be in the shop, but when I'd managed to prise myself away from the retail therapy, the Hollywood exhibition looks sumptuously amazing.

So, that's what we're wishing for this Christmas - what's on your wishlist?

Monday, 3 December 2012

A few me-made presents

Seeing as it's coming round to 'that' time of year again (I can't quite bring myself to say the big C word...) I thought I'd get cracking early with some little me-made pressies for some of the little people in my family!

You can't get simpler and easier than some pretty name bunting for nurseries or bedrooms and this is a great way of using up some of those larger scraps of fabric. All you need is some triangles of fabric - I double sided mine but you can easily use just one piece and cut out with pinking shears. I cut the letters out from felt and stuck down with fabric glue. So easy! If you wanted something a bit more detailed you could appliqué the letters on to the flags.

The recipients have obviously not yet seen these so here is just a sneaky peek!
I decided to make some bags to present them in as well as I've been wanting to try out some transfer paper that I bought a while ago. I'm starting to see a lot of these calico bags in the shops now with initials or pictures printed on and so whipped up my own version for a fraction of the cost. I used Lesley Riley Transfer Artist Paper which is brilliant and can be used for printing on to lots of different surfaces, not just fabrics. Again, these bags were very quick and easy to make but add an extra touch which makes the whole present look really special.

Sandra's also been crafting and has made a tote bag from the Cath Kidston 'Sew' book as a present for a certain someone - we won't mention who just in case she's reading!

So, the Christmas crafting has begun! Are you making any of your presents this year? Or is all your sewing time devoted to yourself?!

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Where have we been?

It's been a rather long time since we've been able to update this space - apologies for our absence!

We're still here, we're still working away! We got our pattern back from the graders back in August and sadly it had to go straight back to be re-graded as there were a couple of issues. Since then we've been busy testing to ensure everything is perfect and all our measurements are ok. We've also been hard at work adding all the detail to the pattern and transforming it into something beautiful. We spent a very enjoyable evening brain storming names (all will be revealed soon!) and have been drawing diagrams and re-working our instructions to be as clear as possible.

Sadly, Gather HQ was burgled a few weeks back and amongst various things taken was the laptop which contained all our precious hard work. Heart breaking. We had backed it up a few months back so all is not lost entirely but certainly the most recent version of the instructions has gone and will have to be rewritten. Luckily we still have the file with the finished pattern otherwise I think we may have both suffered a nervous breakdown! As you can imagine this has been a frustrating time and we are now waiting on the insurance company to decide to pay out so we can purchase a new mac and get back on it!

But we're excited still and raring to go with this pattern - now we're approaching the crazy Christmas season we're not planning on doing any pattern testing until the new year. Keep an eye out if you're interested in doing this, you can check back here or follow us on twitter: @gatherkits

Hoping to be back soon with a couple of Christmas crafty posts. That's all for now!

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Slowly but surely...

It's been a while since we updated our progress in this space - not because we haven't been hard at work, simply that we've fallen behind our original time plan and things have taken a lot longer than we originally thought.

When we began this venture, we sat down, planned everything out with a clear time frame and gave ourselves deadlines. This promptly went out of the window as soon as we started!

We had wildly underestimated the time involved in the designing, drafting and testing of our pattern - a process frustrating at times but ultimately one worth taking the time to get right. This, coupled with the fact that neither of us are able to spend as much time as we'd like on our project, meant we found ourselves a little behind where we had wanted to be at this time. A brilliant (and rather steep) learning curve though. I suspect that there are very few small businesses that are started up on time and exactly as planned, I feel it's almost part of the process!

So, where are we now? Well, the very exciting news is that our first pattern is currently at the graders, being magically transformed from a one size set of paper pattern pieces into a digital nest of 6 sizes. We're expecting to receive them at the end of this week and, assuming all is well and correct (a rather large assumption I know!) will be putting the call out for pattern testers next week.

Monday, 25 June 2012


Well summer 2012 is definitely a sporty one, particularly if you are, like us, residents of London. I'm gaily ignoring the Euros, much to my husband's disgust, but one event us gather girls get excited over is Wimbledon! This year, one of us (but sadly not me...) is off to SW19 to eat strawberries, drink pimms and perve over Nadal watch the tennis and cheer Murray on.

The rules of Wimbledon's dress code for the players is notoriously strict - players must wear all white (or mostly white is now acceptable). This lot seem to have the right idea:

We Heart Vintage
Feeling inspired? Why not try out one of these vintage lovelies and make your own! Perfect in both a crisp white eyelet or silky soft jersey. Tennis anyone?

Friday, 22 June 2012

Sewing habits

I've noticed recently that I do something a bit odd when sewing.

No, I don't sew naked. Nor can I only sew whilst listening to thrash metal. Or whale song. And it's not that I keep my sewing tools lined up in alphabetical order.

I've realised that when I start sewing a seam, the first pin I remove ALWAYS goes in my mouth, between my teeth. The rest of them go back in the pincushion as they're removed. Only when I've removed whatever I'm sewing from the machine and snipped the threads do I remove the pin!

Image Source

I've got absolutely no idea why or when I started doing this but it seems to have stuck! What about you? Got any eccentric sewing habits or superstitions you want to share? Go on, we won't judge. I promise.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Crochet and TV. The perfect combination?

Coincidentally both Sandra and I, in our 'spare time', have been doing a spot of crochet. I've eventually finished off a granny square blanket for a friends new baby and Sandra is working on a blanket for herself!

For me, I find it to be a very relaxing pastime when I need to take a break from the sewing machine. Plus (and this is a very big plus!) you can do it in front of the TV. I'm currently trying to finish Mad Men so I can start on my new box set of Breaking Bad. I adored the original Killing series but found the subtitles frustrating - you need to pay attention and look at the screen the entire time so crafting is a no go! Same with The Wire, I had to pay total attention or I got a bit lost...

What's the ultimate series to craft in front of?! My vote goes for Mad Men, you can indulge in a bit of fantasy dressing up at the same time and lets face it, we all heart Don Draper right?

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Variations on a pattern - Colette Macaron

There is a great post over on Tilly's blog right now about Stitcher's Indecision (an ailment I suffer from mildly but that's another blog post entirely...). She talks about "the ability to design bespoke garments exactly how you want them. You choose the colour, the style, the fit, the neckline, the sleeve, the buttons..."

This is one of the reasons why I love dressmaking so much. We've been making design changes to our pattern recently but I keep having to remind myself that the beauty of home sewing patterns is you have the freedom to make those changes yourself! I love to see how different people interpret patterns and I also love how the same pattern can look completely different simply by changing up fabrics and embellishments.

One of my current favourites is the Macaron by Colette. Here are just a few versions which prove how versatile it can be.

The classic LBD by Sibeli- simple but so chic, I like the sheer fabric next to the Ikat print. The skirt looks more fitted and not using a contrasting fabric for the waistband gives it a really nice, clean look.

The vintage fabric day dress by Kathie - colourful, summery and cute. This version uses vintage fabrics and I particularly love those stripes. She's added piping to the bodice and also a small fabric detail at the bust but otherwise has remained true to the original pattern.
The a-line, rose print slip dress by Natasha - this one is the most altered but possibly my favourite! She's kept the sweetheart neckline and sleeves but completely changed the shape of the dress. I like how there's no contrasting fabric but by using lining you can still clearly see the shaping at the yolk.

Got a favourite? Check out some of the OWOP posts for some more variations on a theme!

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Progress and Packaging

Things are still ticking along nicely at gather HQ. Our pattern is SO nearly there, but we've decided to make a few last minute design changes which has slowed us down a little. We've tweaked a sleeve, lowered a neckline - all little details that you don't realise make a massive difference until you have a few finished dresses in front of you! 

Our slow-down has given us chance to start thinking about our packaging though. Here's some of what we've been looking at for inspiration.

What do you think? Have you got any examples of amazing packaging that you've seen - sewing related or not? We'd love to see!

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Tuesday's Gathering

I'm always drawn to richly-coloured dense prints. As hard as I try for the benefit of my wardrobe to buy and make plain classic clothing so that I can at least pretend that I'm sophisticated, I always get sidelined by yet another an amazing print dress or wildly patterned fabric. Ikat therefore, is just my thing.

5. Thakoon Ikat Print Silk Crepe Top (via Net-a-Porter)

Traditionally ikat fabric is produced in a similar way to tie-dyed fabric, except that the threads themselves are bound and dyed before they are woven into cloth. The good old V&A has some wonderful examples of traditional Central Asian ikat clothing from the 19th century here.

Although I doubt these are strictly ikat fabrics, there are some fabulous takes on the idea out there.

1. Amy Butler Lark Persimmon
2. Magnificat Avocodo
3. John Kaldor Cannes (via Sew Essential)
4. Liberty Landis A Tana Lawn
5. Robert Allen Plaid Ikat
6. Ada Chartreuse

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

A progress update

We're hard at work at the moment working on our final samples and we've now made what will (hopefully!) be our last design alterations. The dress is looking great! To the relief of both of us we've also moved on from making up calico versions to using fabrics we're considering for our kits. We're testing various fabrics, seeing what works best with the design. It's so lovely to be working with great prints rather than endless beige!

Hopefully we will soon be ready for pattern testers to volunteer their services. If you're at all interested in testing our pattern then keep an eye out on this blog or come and follow us on twitter: @gatherkits

We'll be putting the call out as soon as we're ready for you!

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Tuesdays Gathering

The Spring/Summer 2012 collections were full of this classic print. Stella McCartney, Jil Sander, and Pucci are just a few of the big names who showed some of the hottest ways to wear it. Here are a few of our current favourites!

1. Warehouse Paisley Print Dress
2. Alexander McQueen Black Paisley Flower Silk Scarf Cape
3. Stella McCartney Christine Paisley Print Silk Pants
4. Etro Paisley Print PVC Cosmetics Case
5. Gucci Paisley Print Wool & Silk Blend Scarf
6. Whistles Liliy Paisley Shorts

If you're inspired to make your own, how about these fabrics as a starting point:
1. Ghostly Paisley by Cate Anevski
2. Heirloom Paisley by Joel Dewberry
3. Mumbai by Domesticate
4. Grey Whimsical Greyhound Paisley byJane Walker
5. Paisley Ahoy Koi, Oh Boy by Vo Ako Virginiao
6. Paisley by Andover

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Patterns - how do you use yours?

We're spending an awful lot of time at the moment working with our pattern pieces. We're currently also doing a lot of research into the best paper to print on to.

Which brings me to this question: What do you do with your pattern pieces?

Are you a cutter or a tracer? Having spent precious ££s on your pattern do you like to trace the size you need and leave the original intact or do you go for it and cut it out?

Traditionally, patterns are printed on very thin tissue paper. Do you find this easy to work with? Or do you find yourself transferring onto something stronger and thicker for longevity? Would you pay more for a pattern printed on better quality paper? (Incidentally, there is a very good tip over here on the Coletterie blog which talks about reinforcing patterns with interfacing!)

We'd love to know your thoughts!

Monday, 30 January 2012

A gather day out

Today was a good day for gather. After a "we are grown up and responsible really" meeting at the bank, we decided to do what we do best and go fabric shopping! Although being the responsible people we are, we didn't buy (yet!) but instead just wondered around the biggest fabric warehouse we've ever seen getting all excited about the possibilities for our first dress pattern. As we were restrained for the moment, there's not much to report back on the fabric front so instead I'll leave you with a few pictures of the wonder that is a massive textile emporium of loveliness...!

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

A progress update and some fabric inspiration

A belated Happy New Year to you all!

Us gather girls had a somewhat frenzied Christmas break - a family wedding on the 23rd, a poorly toddler and a very poorly cat meant that the sewing machines went untouched for the whole festive period... I think a break is actually no bad thing sometimes, it means we're both raring to go now! And we've got something rather exciting to be sewing up too: our first dress pattern! We're currently testing all the pattern pieces - seeing how they fit together and making any small adjustments. The dress has a few different sleeve options so we've got quite a few versions to make up, nevertheless, it's a hugely exciting time for us and we're both pretty chuffed with the results so far. As soon as we're happy with the final pieces, the next step will be to get them all graded, in preparation for the real pattern testing. There will be more information regarding testing to come, keep an eye out on here or twitter if you're interested in helping us out with that!

Now we have an actual dress form to work with our minds are naturally turning to fabrics and prints. Here are some of the prints that are currently inspiring us, a little taster of what's possibly to come!

Premier Prints
Timorous Beasties
Hanna Werning
Joel Dewberry
Joel Dewberry
Timorous Beasties
Timorous Beasties

Monday, 9 January 2012

All we want for Christmas...

With Christmas only 5 days away (5!), we thought it high-time for a roundup of what's on our wish lists this year. Of course it really is FAR too late to be ordering any of these goodies in time for the big day but anybody who really needed to know what to buy us has obviously already got piles of fabulous gifts wrapped and ready. Ahem.

Send a photo of your abode to Holly's Houses and she'll make a rubber address stamp from a beautifully drawn illustration of your home. A reason (if one is needed) to get back into letter writing again.

A blue bike! A BLUE bike! Is any rationale needed? The beautiful Birdie from Bobbin Bicycles.

Customisable necklace from Return to Me. You get the necklace and yarn and it's up to you to design and make your own. How fab is that?!

Gorgeous screen printed bag from Bookhou on Etsy. A good way to carry the knitting around methinks.

Silhouette Cross Stitch kit from What Delilah Did. A nice little project to keep your hands busy while watching The Muppet Christmas Carol for the umpteenth time...

So, that's it. We're off to frantically panic buy the last (first?) of our Christmas presents and eat our body weight in mince pies. We got a busy time up ahead with lots of things planned for gather in the new year, so keep coming back here to find out what's going on and/or follow us on twitter @gatherkits. Merry Christmas!