Thursday, 20 October 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!

Sunday, 16 October 2016

A pretty take on London transport

When I spotted this liberty fabric a few months ago in Simply fabrics in Brixton, I knew I had to have it.  It combines some of my favourite things in a fabric print; bikes, flowers and stylised London transport, how could I resist?  From the beginning I knew I was going to make another Mathilde blouse with it, it just took me a few months to get round to it.

Like my previous version I made a straight size 4, which fits fine, however maybe next time I make it I will narrow the neckline slightly as my bra straps are often on show with both versions.  I love the huge sleeves and really enjoy how they showcase this fabric.  I've worn this top a few times now and have got so many compliments on it, it's clearly one of my most popular makes.

I used some buttons from my stash which Kristi had sent me as part of a thrift swap we'd been partnered in a few years back.  They are a really unusual colour and they match some of the flowers on the fabric perfectly.

As I was making up this Mathilde, I realised how much progress I've made in my sewing skills in the last couple of years.  I remember struggling with some of the instructions last time and this time it was a doddle.  It also helped that I was making this on my new sewing machine!  The buttonholes, which my old machine struggled with, are a thing of beauty.  Sadly I couldn't get detailed enough shots of them, so you can't see but you can take my word for it.

I took these photos on a trip to Whitstable with my cousin this weekend and there were all these beach huts which made such a great backdrop for the photos.  We went for walks which gave us views like this:

We even managed to sneak in a little sewing related tourism.  I spotted this industrial Singer in a sewing machine shop on the high street:
And I bought these patterns and notions.  The dress came from a charity shop and the lingerie pattern and buttons came from a vintage shop.  The lingerie pattern is one I've been searching for on ebay/etsy etc for a while and it was in my size, it was very exciting! 

I'll leave you with this photo of the cutest houses ever.  I hope you all have a good week!

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Lisbon photos and a couple of Anya bags

Last week my sister and I spent a few glorious days in Lisbon and I finally got round to taking some photos of the Anya bags that I'd made us.  Zoe sent me this pattern to review almost a year ago and although I've now made 4 versions, I haven't gotten around to writing up my thoughts about the pattern yet, sorry Zoe.

Since these are my third and fourth versions of this bag, its safe to say that I am a fan of this pattern.  It's a great stash buster and results in a cute bag which holds a surprising amount of stuff.

This photos was taken just before we left for the airport.  At this stage my bag was holding my passport, wallet (which is a beast), phone, bottle of water, kindle, ipad and bunch of house keys.  It's doing pretty well isn't it?

My sister chilling with our drinks in the 31 degree heat, coming back to the UK was a bit of a shock to the system. 

My version is made from a Cath Kidson upholstery weight fabric, with a polycotton lining and my sisters is made from scraps of the tulip stretch cotton left over from my circle skirt and it's lined with the pink waffle fabric I lined my 70s coat with.  While both work fine for summer bags, the upholstery fabric holds the pleats better and makes a greater feature of them.

I made a couple of small changes to to the pattern.  I shortened the straps slightly, the pattern calls for the straps to be 80cm each and I made them about 70cm as I wanted the bag to sit a bit higher so that it would be a bit more securely under my arm and the contents safely away from pickpockets.  Instead of a button for the tab I used some magnetic snap closures for an easier fastening.  With very few pattern pieces, the bag comes together in an hour or two and the instructions are really clear.  I reckon I've got another few of these in me, they'll make good Christmas gifts in some more wintery fabrics.

And now you get a few of my Lisbon photos, so look away now if other peoples holiday snaps bore you!  I would really recommend Lisbon as a city break for anyone who hasn't been, it's so pretty and has great food and wine.
 There are lots of gorgeous views across the river, this was such a perfect lunch spot.

 I spotted this sewing machine at the flea market, it would have made such a good souvenir but sadly I don't think I could have got it through the Ryanair luggage allowance!

 A bit of silliness at the Castle walls.

 There are all these gorgeous tiled building everywhere.  Why don't we have these?

 They have lots of cool graffiti everywhere, this cute fellow caught my eye and we made friends!

Thanks so much to my amazing little sister for helping me to have such a fun holiday and for bearing with all the photography I insisted on! I hope you're all having a great weekend. 

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

A tale of 4 pairs of jeans

I love the refashioners series and despite not thinking I was going to get time to participate in this years event, I was still buying pairs of jeans any time I saw them cheap in a charity shop.  I really wanted a dungaree dress and when my flatmate moved in and brought her 2 versions for me to covet, my envy was tipped into action.  When I also found myself with some unexpected spare time I realised that I could also join in with everyone else on the refashioning fun.

So I started with these 3 pairs of jeans (as the title says, I originally had 4 but then I realised that one of the pairs that I had bought in a charity shop actually fitted me pretty well as they were so they went into my wardrobe!)  The pair on top were an old pair of mine that actually when I came to harvest fabric from them, I realised were too threadbare almost everywhere to use (it's embarrassing that I was still wearing these not all that long ago).  So I was left with the bottom 2 pairs which were each bought in different charity shops in Penge for a couple of quid each.  The dark pair were a large pair of men's jeans and the light ones were a size 8 women's pair (not a lot of fabric-grr!)

I had this Simplicity pinafore pattern from 1973 in my stash which I've been returning to and meaning to make over and over and finally there was a pattern and fabric match.  I used the bodice pieces but knew I wasn't going to have enough fabric from the jeans to use the skirt pieces.
Image result for simplicity 5862

I started by unpicking the back pockets on both pairs of jeans and I loved the designs that they left, particularly on the pale jeans and knew I wanted these to be used in the bodice to make a bit of a feature.  Ideally I would have stuck them front and centre but I didn't think the pocket boob look they gave would have been a good one.  I did get to use the actual pockets on the front which I think look cute and are practical.  

I always have to extend the bodice pieces of my 1970s patterns, I guess I'm taller/have a longer torso than your average 1970s woman.  However, I didn't do it this time and I really don't know why.  I guess I was focused on the refashioning part of my task and neglected to engage my usually sewing knowledge!  It's a shame because the shortness of the bodice is the one thing I don't love about this dungaree dress.  Having made the bodice, I simply created 2 panels of the denim with darker strips on the outside and lighter ones in the middle and then cut them to fit the bodice pieces and round me  and finally I hemmed it.

I think the dungaree dress with a stripey t-shirt is such a classic look.  I am wearing the dress with my newest Dolores t-shirt in these photos.

In the photo below you get a better view of all the top stitching that I did/redid on the straps, hem, around the pockets and waistband.

My sister took most of these photos on a recent trip to Lisbon.  I have a sneaking suspicion these may be the best photos you get for a while as the daylight in the UK is shortening rapidly.  I hope you all get a chance to get your refashioners projects finished in time.

Monday, 19 September 2016

One week, one pattern

7b05f6d3-2f9f-4fa3-8a5e-cb97bbdb159aWhen Hannah announced that she would be running OWOP this year, I knew that I wanted to take part.  I'd loved taking part in 2014 when Jane hosted and I used the lady skater pattern.  This time I decided to use the SoZo Dolores dress and top pattern.  I already had 3 versions of the top made up, versions 1 and 2 can be seen here and I decided that this was the perfect excuse to give the dress a go.  I can knock versions of this up in a about an hour, so I reached for this blue and red rayon knit that I had in my stash and got stitching.  Scroll down for an exciting peek at it.

So how did my week turn out?

Day 1.  I spent most of the day in my peacock Dolores top before changing into some glad rags for a wedding.

Day 2.  After the wedding I went for a paddle on Margate beach in my yellow Dolores top.  The water was really pretty warm.

Day 3.  Peacock top again.  It was at this point that I realised that I was going to have a problem as a heat wave had hit London and 2 out of 4 of my possible makes for this week had long sleeves.

Day 4.  The hottest ever September day, I finally ventured out at about 7 to get a photo of my new dress.

Day 5.  I enjoyed the sunshine at my local lido, wearing my Sew over it ultimate shorts and yellow Dolores top to cycle down there.

Day 6.  I enjoyed the last of the summer sunshine again at the Lido and my dress was the perfect thing to throw on over the top of my swimsuit.

Day 7. The solution to my lack of hot weather apparel was obviously to make myself another Dolores top!  This one was on my to make list but just got bumped up the list rather speedily!  I bought this amazing stripey jersey when I was in Amsterdam.  I love the varying stripes and it feels like everyone should have a stripey top in the wardrobe and somehow I didn't have one yet.

How did you all get on with your one week, one pattern?  

Friday, 16 September 2016

Super funky coat sewing

Any of you who follow me on Instagram may have seen this photo that I posted as part #vpjuly as my next vintage project.  
This year I have been using my vintage patterns way more than before, I managed to complete my target for my Vintage pattern pledge back in July, so this is a bonus Vintage item and I'm happy to say its a good one!  When I took the photo, it was still very much just an idea. But then Melissa put out a call for bloggers for her Sew Long Summer blog tour and gave me the motivation I needed to take on a more challenging make than I've attempted before.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I love Style 1970s patterns. This one was an eBay find a couple of months back.  As well as sewing from more vintage patterns, I have also bought quite a few this year.  I now need to sew even more vintage styles to justify all that spending!

I found the fabrics on Walthamstow market on a visit organised by Kerry and I thought they'd make a perfect coat. Marie bought some of the outer fabric too and I'm excited to see what she makes with it. Luckily these fabrics were really not expensive so the fact that I don't really do muslining would be less problematic, if it all went wrong.  The fabrics are some kind of synthetic and I think the geometric one is an ex Zara fabric, it has lots of metallic threads in it and frayed like crazy, I keep finding metallic thread bits in odd corners of my house now!  As the poly content of the main fabrics was not going to keep me warm, I bought a thin wool/cashmere remnant on Goldhawk rd to use as interlining. I know it's an Autumn/Spring coat but it's also the UK and we have very odd seasons, also I am always freezing so need all the help I can get.

Like most patterns of this age it's a single size pattern which has pros and cons.  It means I don't need to trace off the pattern pieces which I hate to do and have no compunction about cutting out the pattern pieces.  On the other hand I can't grade between sizes which means a bit more work when adjusting the pattern pieces.  I didn't have to make too many adjustments, I added extra at the hips and when sewing up I used a 1cm seam allowance on the sleeves and around the arm holes as I always need a bit more room for ease of movement.  At some point I will learn to make the adjustments need to properly allow myself better arm movement as this is a problem I regularly have.

I was taking a jacket making course along side making this coat which was very helpful as the instructions made my head hurt.  Vintage patterns have many fewer instructions and they are often not very well explained, I guess at the time everyone would have learnt at school or been taught by a family member and so would have known how to do many of the things which are not explained in any detail in the instructions.  For example at one point they instruct you to 'make bound button holes'!  Now aside from the fact that I would have needed much more hand holding than this to be able to create a bound button hole, there was not a chance in hell of me actually making them for this coat.  This was another area where the jacket making course was invaluable, they told us about this place in Soho that will create professional buttonholes for you in 5 minutes on industrial machines!  I took my coat along to DM buttons and had them do my buttonholes.  They informed me that I'd marked my buttonholes on the men's side, oops!

The poly content of the fabrics made them a total nightmare to work with in some ways.  They do not press at all well, to the point where I think I'm going to have to stitch down my lapels!  The outer fabric has no give in it at all, actually a wool would have been more forgiving, hopefully the next version will be a bit easier to manipulate when sewing.  The lining fabric had quite a lot of stretch to it which made sewing them together particularly painful, especially at all the handstitched hems.  The addition of the interlining also caused some problems and there is some buckling in places on the coat that I think has to do with the multiple layers pulling in slightly different areas.  The buttons were vintage wooden ones that I had in my stash, I have no idea where they came from originally but I think they work well for this coat.

This is a fun coat which I'm excited to wear once the weather breaks.  However, for the time being it's going to sit in the cupboard as London weather appears to have mistaken September for the new summer and getting these photos was actually painful!  Not that I'm complaining about the extra sunshine!

As part of the blog tour, some lovely pattern companies have offered us all some discount codes:
Zierstoff Patterns-20% off   Code-zierstoffpatterns20  Ends-17/09/16
Blue Dot Patterns-25% off patterns.  Code-SewLongSummer  Ends-17/09/16
On the Cutting Floor-50% off patterns.  Code-SEWLONG  Ends 17/09/16
Also taking part in todays tours are:
Sewing by Ti
Musings of a seamstress
Tales of a tester
At Margareta's house
Sewing a la carte
Birds of a kettle
Check out the fabulous things that they have made.  The full line up for the week can be found on Melissa's blog.  I'm off to enjoy the final summer sunshine, what ever the blog tour is called, I'm so not ready to say sew long yet!

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.