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.  

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.