Tuesday, 30 August 2016

There's nothing subtle about this

Hi folks, I hope you all had lovely bank holiday weekends and are not too blue at the return to work.  I spent a really lovely weekend with family in Wales and managed to persuade my sister to take some fun photos for this blog post.  A couple of months ago on a shopping trip to Walthamstow, I bought this royal blue and pink African wax print cotton.  I couldn't resist but as the colours were pretty vibrant I figured that it really could only be used as an item of summer clothing.


I've been wanting to make a sleeveless Vintage shirt dress since I made my sleeved version.  This fabric seemed like a good option for my next version.  From the last version I knew I needed to make certain alterations, I sized down in the bodice and lengthened it by 5cm.  I then took 5cm out of the skirt.  However, I seem to have lost more length in the skirt as this dress is considerably shorter than my last version!  I'm not quite sure how this happened.  I like it for this dress as it adds to the summery vibe but I must pay attention for the next version.


I used some plain black buttons that I had in my stash. I figured that I really needed to go as simple as possible with the buttons on this. Although I did sew them on with royal blue thread to match the dress! This is also one of those occasions where I should have paid attention to pattern placement as the slightly off placement of the circles on each side has slightly the effect of an optical illusion. As I don't have to spend much time looking at it, it's not a problem for my brain but if my friends start going cross eyed and throwing up around me, it may be a problem!


I watched the Great British Sewing Bee with a group of lovely ladies pulled together by Ana and Elena.  When international week happened, we all went a bit nuts for the fabulous dresses made from African wax fabric.  I'm so pleased to finally have my own version but there's no doubting you definitely stand out in fabric this vibrant.

I'm sure my aunt an uncle would have been delighted had they seen us taking these photos on their picnic table!  They also had a tree house which I happily climbed up!

Thanks so much to my lovely sister for taking the pictures and putting up with me as I danced round the garden in my dress and demanded that she take even more photos!  I really love this very summery dress which hopefully I can eek out a bit more wear from if the good weather holds but it will definitely form part of my holiday wardrobe for when I go to Lisbon in a few weeks.  

Sunday, 21 August 2016

I made a shirt!!!!

I'm really excited about the make I've got to show you today for multiple reasons.  Firstly, I made a shirt which feels pretty epic.  And ok, I know I'm about a million years after the rest of the sewing world but I really don't care.  Secondly this shirt allowed me to use multiple things from the darkest depths of my stash.  I bought the Grainline Archer pattern in a black Friday back in 2014 and then managed to ignore it for almost 2 years!  Also The fabric is one that I inherited from my Grandma's stash and has been lingering for a long time in my stash.


Now I'm going to put this out there right now, I know there is quite a lot wrong with this shirt however, it still isn't killing my euphoria at having successfully made a shirt. To start with it's huge!!! I made a size 10 and I feel like I'm drowning, I know it's meant to be oversized but this is ridiculous. Although I recently wore this to a sewing class (more on this when I'm done) and the teacher didn't think it was too big, so maybe I just don't like the oversized look, I prefer my clothes to be a bit more fitted.


I followed the online tutorials which I found really clear and such a good resource. My brain couldn't quite grasp the written instructions and the tutorials were so helpful. Actually as everyone in the sewing world has mentioned, the instructions/tutorials are so good that they take the difficulty out of the many steps to making a shirt.


I took my time over this shirt and it all came together like a breeze. Actually the only difficulty I had was in some of the top stitching but this is because my machine really doesn't like more than 2 layers of fabric. I'm hoping to upgrade my machine soon which hopefully will resolve this technical issue.


While it had taken me ages to put this fabric to use, I love how it works for this shirt.  I also love how it allowed me to play with the direction of the checks.  The pockets and yoke are cut out on the bias which gives it a fun contrast. Clearly I'm not the only one who enjoys playing with gingham, Karen's ginghamalong is here to inspire us all to play with gingham.  This is going to be my entry for her ginghamalong, however, it has also inspired me to go back to a gingham refashion that's been lingering in my UFO pile for at least a year, you can't beat a bit of gingham!


I'm excited to have another go at this pattern with some sizing alterations! I would also like to try a more fitted style shirt. One of the things I love about independent pattern designers is the confidence they can help us to build with a really well designed and explained pattern! Thanks to Grainline for helping me build a new skill set. 

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Flashing my shoulders

It's really rare that I get on board with something as obviously on trend as the off the shoulder look and for a long time I was steadfastly ignoring it.  Particularly as lots of the tops have ruffles round the top and I'm a bit allergic to ruffles!  However, when this off the shoulder top popped up on my radar, it was love and the refashion lightbulb went off in my head.

And to create the look, I had the perfect shirt in my refashion pile. It was fate! 
This shirt was a seriously nice quality Ted Baker shirt and I had a momentary feeling of guilt as I cut into it. This was one refashion that really needed to work or the waste gods would smite me. *Spoiler alert* it did!

Obviously mine has shorter sleeves than the inspiration garment.  I figured that if it was warm enough for bare shoulders, this also meant short sleeves.

Red detail binding on the tie sleeves plus bonus glimpse of a friends bike (I really must take better care to take photos in an area free of random objects)

I really love this top which surprises me as I didn't think it would suit me at all!  If the UK weather was only a bit better, I make a few more but unfortunately this is really not an item I need too many of.  However, I'm happy with just this one great one.

For those of you who fancy jumping on board the off the shoulder trend, I've put together a mini tutorial. 

Cut off the top, using the back yoke as a cutting line. 
I was planning on using the front of the shirt as the back of my top and so I unpicked the pocket. Portia did a post as part of the refashioners series last year about getting rid of the holes when you unpick a pocket.  Next I cut a length of 1" wide elastic to fit around my shoulders where I wanted the top to sit. Just a tip, this needs to be quite snug, it's the only thing holding up the top.  I speak from experience, I had to unpick my top and tighten it, trust me that's an annoyance you don't want to have.   Finish the top edge in your preferred way. Then there are a couple of ways to do the next step; you could create a channel for the elastic and feed it through and then sew the ends of the elastic together.  Or do what I did which was to sew the elastic together and fold over the top edge of the top over the elastic and create the channel with the elastic in place.

One of the things I loved about my inspiration top was the sleeve detail.  To recreate these, I cut the sleeves into this kinda shape (I have no words for what this shape is):
The long thin bit is on the side of the sleeve furthest away from the body.

Slit down the middle, continuing to cut until your slit extends beyond the length of the other side of the sleeve.  This will give you nice long ties, maximising the decorative effect.

I got lucky with this shirt as it had some cute details like the contrasting yoke.  I made use of this by cutting it into binding to add detail to the sleeves.  
Sadly there was only enough to bind part of the sleeve but I made binding for the rest of the sleeve from other off-cuts from the shirt-maximising the refashioning!  However, you could use some other contrast binding if you felt like it.  Once the sleeve edges are bound, your shirt is pretty much done.

I tried the top on at this stage and I wanted it to be a bit less huge at the waist so I added some darts in the back but this is a matter of taste and personal preference.

Enjoy your new top!


Friday, 5 August 2016

Taking a circle skirt up a notch

Today's post is about a total basic, the circle skirt.  However, this one has been made super fabulous by the awesome fabric, which is so summery!  Plus I had a great backdrop and wonderful photographer taking these photos so it all worked out pretty perfectly.  


 This is the Megan Neilsen Veronika skirt pattern which I've used once before for my pleather skirt which is still a big winner in my wardrobe.


The fabric is a gorgeous stretch cotton with tulip print that I bought on Goldhawk road.  They had 5m left in the shop and my cousin and I split it.  I think we both may have made the same skirt so we'll have to be careful not to wear it at the same time as I'm not a fan of the whole matching outfit thing, to be honest I don't reckon she is either so at least we'll be on the same page.

Aside from hemming the skirt, which was as lengthy as circle skirts always are (also despite the above photo which makes the whole thing look lopsided, it is straight).  The whole thing came together quickly, its really just a few seams and an invisible zip. 

I love this skirt and this was the perfect backdrop as I also love London, even with construction stuff going on, which is lucky as it's also a feature of the London skyline!

These were taken by my lovely friend Dominika (thanks Dominika).  Fingers crossed for more lovely evenings like this with lovely clothes, lovely friends, lovely weather and lovely settings (and if my mother ever reads this sentence with this many lovely's in it, her head will explode!)
I'm entering this as one of the makes in Allie's Social Sew, this month's theme is 'hot, hot heat', come sew with us.  Happy summer all!

Saturday, 30 July 2016

Seriously, how are the 80s vintage?

Have you all been enjoying #vpjuly on Instagram? I've loved seeing everyone's makes and vintage inspiration.  Today I have another make towards my vintage pattern pledge, however, it's a bit different from my usual style. As a child of the 80s, looking at childhood photos means exposure to a lot of bad clothes and even worse hair styles.  So 1980s patterns have never appealed to me much.  Nor is the idea of thinking of myself as Vintage!  Although I may just have to get over this.  
A month or two back, I was on a weekend away in Bristol and spotted this pattern in a charity shop.  Despite being from the 80s, it actually appealed to me, reminding me slightly of the True Bias Southport dress which I have been considering trying for a while as I wanted an easy to pull on casual summer dress.  As the loose fitting, elasticated waist dress is not usually a style that I go for, I appreciated giving it a go with a pattern that only cost me 50p.

I went rooting around in my stash for a suitable fabric and found bits of a lovely chambray which I think may have come from my Grandma's stash and some scraps of a red and white striped shirt.  I thought these would work as a perfect, semi nautical combo.  I made some adjustments to the pattern for a number of reasons.  The skirt is slightly narrower than the pattern pieces as I didn't have enough fabric to cut the full width, I still think it's plenty full enough.  The pattern calls for piping round the neck and arm but I just used binding as I thought piping at the neck and arms would be a bit weird. I did make piping for the pockets though, gotta love a bit of piping.  The tiny amounts of the red and white fabric that I was working with meant that many of the bindings and the belt are pieced together.


I kinda ignored the instructions and made it up as I went along so I can't really comment on what they are like.  They did call for a 1/4" elastic at the waist but I used 1" elastic as I wanted the waist to be more emphasised.  Since this isn't a fitted style, I only had to make one fit adjustment, which was to take it in under the arms by a good 6cm.

Hmm I must stand up straighter!

While it was lovely to work with and feels lovely to wear, this fabric creases like crazy.  I ironed this about a million times but its still so creased.  I guess that's part of the style.  I've never worked with chambray before so I have no idea if this is normal or not.

Overall this is a cute, wearable casual summer dress but don't love it, I guess I still need some work to be converted to the 80s, although thinking about it, one of my favourite makes from last year was this 80s top so maybe there is hope for me after all.  Oh well, I've already planned my next vintage make and it's another 70s one so hopefully my favourite vintage pattern decade won't let me down. 

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Another birthday dress

I'm aware that I'm slightly milking my birthday this year but hey that's what birthdays are for. As we both turn 30 this summer, my cousin and I decided to have a joint party. So obviously I needed a(nother) new dress! 
I had the perfect combo available from my stash too. A couple of years ago my dad brought me some gorgeous turquoise raw silk back from a holiday to India. I had been afraid to use it on something that I didn't think was special enough or on a pattern I hadn't tested (muslins are not my thing). Enter the bhl Anna dress that I have made a couple of times before and so know what adjustments need to be made. 
Like a number of people I had found that the back gaped on my original version so I followed Sonja's tutorial for adjusting the back, it worked like a charm. 
The silk was slightly rough in texture so did not slide around at all when cutting or seeing. It was a dream to sew up and it pressed well however it wrinkles like crazy so I am actually going to have to pull out my iron when I want to wear this dress. I lined the whole thing in a turquoise rayon from my stash. I'd bought it from fabricsforsale to make a top but when it arrived I found the colour a bit too strong to want to wear and also when I prewashed it, the colour leaked badly so into the stash it went for just such a project as this-perfect! 
For some reason I kept putting off making this dress, sometimes I get wierd blocks about stuff so it ended up being a bit of a rush to get it finished. Not ideal when there was much hand sewing to be done! I hand stitched the lining to the zip and hand sewed the entire hem! I cannot tell you how much I hate hand stitching my clothes (which is wierd as I enjoy it on quilts etc). Needless to say the lining was machine hemmed. 
I'm so pleased with the final result and had so many compliments on it at my party!  I felt so comfortable in it and I can see it getting many more wears for the rounds of weddings and birthday parties that my friends are having. Apparently this dress has magical powers too, I can go on looking elegant in it even when very much the worse for wear! 

Thursday, 30 June 2016

A little bit of selfless sewing

So usually I am a selfish sewist and do not sew things for other people. However my father turned 75 a couple of weeks ago (happy birthday daddy) and I decided that I wanted to make something for him to mark the occasion.

I'd spotted this quilt tutorial on Purl Soho and thought that it was so pretty and hopefully wouldn't take too long to make. In the interests of full disclosure I did not use lots of Liberty fabrics-the blue one is a length of Liberty fabric that I bought especially for this quilt but the others are scraps I had left over from dressmaking projects. I feel that this embraces the ethos of quilt making a bit better than buying lots especially for a quilt.  In particular, I was able to use scraps of the parrot fabric from my Flora dress in the 'best fabric ever', that had been a present from my Dad.  I thought this was a nice touch for a gift.


I made my quilt bigger than the original pattern as, although I didn't want this to be a full size quilt, I did want it to be large enough to act as a throw on a three seater sofa, as this is what my Dad has in his living room.  I bought the fabric for the top and bottom at Simply Fabrics in Brixton.  It's a fairly hefty cotton which I bought because it was exactly the oatmeal colour I wanted, however it did have a bit of stretch to it which was not ideal.  I bought this gorgeous wadding from plush addict, it's an iron-on wadding which I had never seen before and thought was really clever. It's nice to have that extra security as you stitch together all the layers.  The bias binding I made from some African print cotton in my stash.


This was the first ever quilt I have ever finished, although I've started several (you should hear my sister on the subject, she's still waiting for one I promised her for her birthday 3 years ago!)  This quilt is obviously not a traditional pieced quilt  and there is a lot of hand stitching involved which I actually quite enjoyed, even though I really dislike hand stitching my dress making projects.  Even with all the hand sewing, it's still a relatively quick make. I started it towards the end of April and it was finished at the beginning of June. I'd say just over a month to complete a quilt is pretty good going, especially as I had a bunch of other projects on the go at the same time.


The Purl Soho instructions are great and I learnt some new tips which I would never have thought of.  For example they have you sew the circles, right sides together with interfacing, essentially creating a bag with the interfacing and then turning them out before appliqueing to the quilt top.  It gave a really clean edge to the circles which I know I wouldn't have got had I just tried to turn the edges under before appliqueing.  They also direct you to tutorials for binding the quilt, which I found really helpful, since never having actually completed a quilt before, I hadn't done this step before.  Actually it was simpler than I expected.  The binding looks neat and 3 of the corners are pretty perfect, with just one being slightly wonky.

A final shot of the quilt in its new home.  The patchwork cushion was another present that I made for my Dad on a previous birthday.

I really like this quilt and now I want one for myself. I feel like it has a great impact while not involving as much work as other quilts.  It may be time to get stitching again!  Does anyone have any recommendations of any other speedy quilts?