Tuesday, 30 April 2019

Adjusted Crystal Cove Cami

So, my most favourite recent make, even more than my Bonn shirts, is my new vest top. I keep seeing beautiful ogden camis, and I love the aesthetic, but I really was never going near an fba on a dartless bodice. So... that was the situation for a year or so, then one day, after making some nice shirts, I was cruising the itch to stitch website and saw the Crystal Cove Cami. It looked great, skinny straps, breezy vibe and CUP SIZES! YEAH!

 I did make some adjustments. The cami actually has a nice overlapping back detail which could be very cool on summer, but I wanted a solid back so I just reflected the piece around centre back. I also wanted to replicate the ogden's low front and back, so I lowered the front by about an inch and the back by about 1.5 for a fabulous low back. I also didnt use bias straps, as I didnt have enough material so I just cut longer straight ones. I also reduced the depth of the facing as one of pet hates is facings that pinch round the bust.

 I used the last remnant of the gorgeous viscose I used for my Peacock dress, and it fit so nicely! I LOVE THIS TOP! I was concerned that it might not work, and I did have to take little darts out under the arms, but otherwise it is perfect! The low back just skims the top of my bra, and I feel very glamorous! My bra straps are completely visible, but personally I quite like that look. 

Saturday, 27 April 2019

Bonn shirts

I mainly learned to sew in order to make shirts. Due to the boobs I couldn't buy shirts that fit across the front without being massive in the shoulders. Even the ones from bravissimo didn't work I'm too tall so the extra boob space was at the wrong place.

Cue 5 or so years later and I've made one shirt. Which doesn't fit any more.

Until now! I decided (probably on a whim, that's how most of my sewing gets done!) that I wanted a loose blousy shirt to tuck into things. I scoured the Internet for a suitable pattern - a key criteria was built in cup sizes - I know myself and I just can't be bothered with fbas! I also didnt need many traditional shirt details, as I wanted a simpler style. I decided on the Bonn shirt from Itch to stitch, which has a simple collar and sleeves. It's reasonably slimline but a tester had made a softer blousey one so I was sold!

I used this black and white viscose (probably from my eBay viscose buying spree) which is perfect as it's not too soft and creasy.

I made the size up through the waist and bust, to keep it blousey. I went for the three quarter sleeves to keep it useful for varying temperatures. 

I hate buttonholes, and it easily goes over my head so I just sewed short lines where the buttons would go instead. I left off the top fastening as it felt higher than I wanted, and also some of the lower ones so that I can tie up the bottom if I want to.

I love this shirt - I've worn it several times a week since making it. It's a work staple but also makes me feel slightly more fashionable than usual!

I therefore immediately made another - this time with a pink flowery viscose that I had considered for my sister's asaka robe but on reflection I thought might be too bright for her tastes. I got it from Samuel Taylor in Leeds and as I needed a lot for the robe (there are some huge sleeves involved!) I had masses left over. I therefore made a matching skirt that I can wear with the top so it looks like a dress. Overall I am extremely pleased with the various pieces!

Monday, 18 June 2018

Grecian turquoise - the ultimate secret pyjamas!

How many sewing blogger stories start "So I had this wedding to go to..."!

So I had this wedding to go to, that of my lovely friend Leanda (Hi Leanda - great wedding!) and the only wedding clothes that fit me all had mending issues. (My firework dress has a torn vent and the red flowery one's button band basically just needs entirely replacing!) Obviously the sensible solution was not to mend them, but to make something new and exciting!  However, the short attention span that makes me uninterested in fiddly mending jobs also meant it was going to have to be something fairly straightforward to make.

I am partway through a shirtdress right now, and have spent about 5 hours cutting it all out, so I wasn't in the mood for a pattern. I therefore drafted it all on Agnetha (my dressform).
Given the tight time fame and lack of pattern, jersey was clearly indicated. I looked through the stash and found this delicious fine turquoise jersey that I had been hoarding for a few years. I'm not good with fabric types but it's very cool to wear, so I think it must have some natural fibres in. It's very soft but not hugely stretchy, like a silky t-shirting. The colour is just gorgeous - that greenish turquoise that you don't see very often. The Internet tells me this colour is based on one of the variations of a pigment called paris green, which was a popular colour with painters and fashion in the 1800s, but which was also highly toxic so eventually banned.

People are sometimes confused by the term draping (ie drafting a pattern directly on a body or dressform) as often it's not so much draping fabric, as painstakingly adjusting small details, more like a puzzle. On this occasion however, draping is a very accurate word! I hadn't decided what sort of dress i wanted, but after basically throwing the fabric over one shoulder of the dressform, it just looked so great as a long simple dress that it just had to become that!

It's an extremely simple construction. I had about two metres and I cut it in half crossways, then cut off a long thin strip, then cut one of the halves in half again.

The bigger piece was gathered and pleated onto wide elastic for the skirt. To produce a flatter section at the centre front I added a piece of interfaced fabric to the elastic loop so that bit wouldn't  gather. I didn't want it to be all gathers as that tends sit oddly on me, but I had to gather a bit due to the lack of stretch in the fabric. The main pleating is on the back, where they produce a diagonal effect which I like. I then used the thin strip to cover the waistband elastic.

The top is made from a piece of fabric over each shoulder, crossing at the front and back. I created the shoulder shaping by sewing some thin elastic on the inside to gather the material at that point. It's also sewn up the sides under the arms.

Full disclosure - this isn't actually a dress. The top is tucked in and then pinned with safety pins on the inside at front and back. This was easier,  but also means that I can wear the skirt separately if I want to in future.

Being jersey, I didn't finish any hems or seams, so this was extremely quick to make!
Overall I love this dress - it feels really dramatic yet super comfortable - the ultimate secret pyjamas!

Saturday, 3 March 2018

Blue and red Appleton

In the classic blogger manner, I sewed up a pattern, loved it, wore it all the time,  made another, and am now blogging the second one without having done the first!

So, aaages ago, probably a year and a half ago? I made myself a black velvet Appleton dress by Cashmerette. I love fitted stretchy dress, and a wrap, and it is therefore perhaps not that surprising that I have worn it repeatedly since I made it.

I have not yet got round to photographing it, partly as I am lazy and partly as it is hard to photograph due to being black.

I have been stockpiling fabrics ever since to make another one (or twelve!). I've been in a bit of a sewing slump though so I have only now got round to starting them.

This is a soft jersey I got from Leeds market a few months ago - I loved the colours so much it jumped the queue!
The colours are so vivid and it doesn't start looking white until you stretch it quite significantly, which is always important in a jersey fabric.

As everyone else has already said- the Appleton is a great pattern, and is super quick to make. This probably took me about two hours,  a decent proprioception of which was ironing my scrunched up pattern pieces. The construction is very straightforward, and makes it a lovely easy sew.

As it's a wrap dress, and Jenny has already done your fba for you, fitting is also pretty minimal. I only made two alterations. As I had with my back dress,  I added 2.5 inches onto the bodice length  (I'm 5'9" but most of my height is in my torso). I also slightly lowered the back neckline by about 1cm - on my black dress the neck rides up a bit.

So - I love this dress - sadly though I haven't got to wear it for reals yet as the UK's been having a drastic snowstorm this week so it's been too cold. 

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Whistlestop wardrobe for India

In November I was asked to go to India for work. Upside - yay! free travel! Downside - only bring in india for 2 days, most of which involved filming 10+ hours a day in rather warm conditions.

Now I have warm weather clothing, but it's all fairly skimpy, or gets too hot in northern uk. Smart-casual work attire in a hot, conservative country wasn't really covered. After some research, I decided on three pieces, a loose tunic, loose trousers and a long skirt, all made in viscose for coolness.
Now an additional difficulty was that the notice of the jaunt wasn't super massive,  so I didn't have a lot of time. Still, I managed two out of three- which I don't think is that bad!

So.. the failure was the tunic,  and it was definitely a failure. I made it as a colour block of white and a pale cloud pattern. I now have significant respect for all the sewists that make tunics, as mine turned out horrible. It took about 2/3rds of the overall sewing time I had available and remains the only thing I've ever made that went straight into the bin (normally things live for a few months/years in a random pile on the floor!). So. .. there are no pictures - you'll just have to imagine me wearing something that looked like a mangled pillow case.

So, slightly panicked, I started on the other items.

Luckily, they went much easier, albeit with some corners cut to save time!

The main event from my perspective was the loose trousers. I have never attempted trousers before, even pjamas. So they were a little daunting- but fortunately, the bagginess hides many fitting sins!
I used the Moji trousers pattern from Colette's Seamwork. It's a fairly simple pattern with an elasticated waist. It's fairly fitted, so I went up a few sizes to loosen them up, as well as dropping the crotch by the simple measure of adding about 3 inches to the top.

I used a very wriggly black viscose from the stash, which proved slightly trying- there is a hole in one side seam where it all slipped. I also did the hems with hem tape, which seemed a good idea at the time  (I had to rinse them in the hotel when of course it dissolved!)
Other than that though they worked very well, though I'm not sure how much I'll wear them in the uk- perhaps if I took the crotch back up?

My other triumph is the long skirt. As you may have gathered from the need for slapdash hem tape, I was running low on time. Luckily this skirt took about 10 minutes!

I used some lovely border print viscose I bought ages ago from the Asian Bazaar at Leeds Market. I obviously wanted the border, so I just chopped about 5 inches off the opposite edge, sewed up the side seam and then zigzagged it onto some elastic.

I wore this skirt more than anything else on the trip, it is so cool and comfortable,  and felt more elegant than my other options! 

Overall, it all worked out very well, though my lack of tunic did mean a last minute dash to tk maxx for a long shirt that bore a striking resemblance to the Kalle shirt dress!

(Here I am, wearing my welcome flower garland!)

Sunday, 12 November 2017

"Fancy a kiss?" The Dementor costume

This costume has been 2 years coming. The halloween before last I had big plans to be a dementor. It was me and my girlfriend's first halloween together and we had spent a lot of time discussing costumes. Cut to the night of the party and due to bad teaching times I am exhausted, antisocial and have made about 5% of the costume. Eventually we go out late with me wearing an old red riding hood cape and a serious case of costume anticlimax.

But... the dementor costume was still haunting me. Just too creepy to forget.

So this year I started slightly earlier and actually planned some stuff. I was still making it up to the wire, but I was cheerful and finished it (part due to planning and perhaps part no longer being a teacher!)

It's actually a pretty simple costume. I made a series of layers and ragged the edges. They just have a hole in the middle and the longer ones have holes for my hands to go through. To make it creepier I made a hat from cardboard with a dome of pillow in the middle. This extended my head height by about 5 inches, and I then added another 2 layers of thin material. Which looked extremely creepy and I could just about still see.

To complete the effect, I made some finger extensions using those costume witch fingers, long bits of wire and some electrical tape. These proved quite uncomfortable (I think the costume fingers were for kids) and I could only manage one hand at a time, but they looked great!

Overall the costume was a great success and I won second prize at the party!

Monday, 18 September 2017

The "Baby I'm a firework" Upton hack

Well yesterday my littlest brother got married, in a lovely wedding where I danced until my feet were sore. Despite having already made a wedding attending dress a month ago, I had an urge to make another (not anything to do with me know wanting to try and fix the button band fiasco from the other dress!).

Now I am trying to be thrifty and I have a stash that fills 8 large drawers, so I was determined to work with something I already had. As I had had some slippage issues with my wiggly viscose in the last dress, I decided to use a more stable fabric. This significantly cut down my options, as most of my stable fabric selection is 1-1.5m lengths intended for pencil skirts. The fabric that therefore jumped out at me is one of my oldest stash pieces, 3m of thin cotton with a crazy flower/firework print. I must have bought this a good 4-5 years ago in Edinburgh. I had intended it for a fitted dress, but then learned more about fabric and realised that it was a bit flimsy and creasy. It then sat in the stash... waiting..

Until now! (Pardon the wrinkles, I had already been to the ceremony and meal.)

(Being photobombed by my other brother and cousin!)

(The fabric photographs fantastically - even when nothing else is on focus!)

Now, as I mentioned in a recent Instagram, I always sew in a bit of a rush, but can spend hours planning, so I originally had something very complicated planned. I have always loved tiki sarong dresses, and had a whole boned and pleated top, wrap skirt thing planned. As is typical with my planning however, I planned so long that I had no time to make it, so I scaled my plan right back.

I had always intended to use the Cashmerette Upton bodice as the basis for the dress, though I found it funny that I was planning an elaborate hack before I had even made a normal version. For the scaled back plan, I simply decided to just use the top as is, and combine it with a simple fitted pencil skirt (which I rubbed off an existing skirt that I knew fit me).

Now previously, I have only made the Cashmerette Appleton wrap dress (which I have still not blogged despite LOVING!) and I was a little concerned that a woven top would be harder to fit, even when designed by the talented Jenny. This assumption meant that when the pattern piece slipped slightly when cutting out the bodice that I didn't fix it, I figured I would need to make adjustments anyway. I WAS WRONG - I SHOULD HAVE TRUSTED JENNY! Once it was all sewn up, the fit was perfect, except very slightly too wide across the centre front, where it had slipped. Sigh.

To reinforce the bodice given the thin material, I underlined the bodice with white cotton from a second hand sheet. This was really convenient, as I could draw straight onto it with my heat dissolving pens to make all the markings. (I love my those pens!) I should have also reinforced the skirt, but did not for time reasons. This wasn't a critical error, but meant that there was a slight rip later that could have been avoided.

I tried quite hard to make sure the print worked and wasn't odd. I carefully lined up one of the bright explosion areas onto the neckline which was very successful I also did some pattern matching up the centre back seams, but then had to let it out as it was too tight.. still, it still reads as one image, even if isn't perfect!

For the Upton bodice I made a 14 e/f and the only alterations I made were to lengthen the straps by 1.5 inches (I basically sewed along the cut line), take in the upper back by about half an inch along the zip, and to lengthen the bodice by about 3 inches to lower the waistline (the Upton sits at the high waist). I also had to add a short dart at the centre front to lose that pesky additional width.

(Oops - really should have remembered to sew on the hook and eye at the top of the zip!)

Overall - I love it! Even though it got very creased and I should have lined the skirt - I felt very glamorous in it and it is very comfortable. For next time I will have to fix the back tear (I caught the slit area on a chair arm), and find my pretty slip (I couldn't find it for this time, and my other one is a bit long, hence you can it in these pictures. When I make the Upton again, I will take an inch out of the back length, as the zip buckles a little when I stand up straight.