Saturday, 18 December 2010

Christmas Dress complete!

Well I finished the Christmas dress last week so I could cook a Christmas dinner in it, but only took pictures after, and they are still on my friend's camera who has been ill. Plus I almost certainly look very drunk! So I took a few more today to get a daylight sober (well rather hungover actually) view.

The dress went together very easily in the end, though I totally messed up the skirt, which is meant to have darts, but I didn't allow for them when I measured and cut it, and it was then a little too big so its ended up with slightly odd slight pleats down each side. Despite this I'm quite pleased with it. I managed to rope in my flat-mate's boyfriend (who turns out to have previously unknown to us sewing credentials!) to pin the zip in and that all worked out pretty well. The FBA also worked, though the top turned out to have more ease than I expected, so its a little poufy and it really needs the belt. The darts look OK though, and seem to sit in about the right sort of places (frankly I'm slightly astonished by this!) The facings are all excellent, and the neckline is wearable, though with retrospect I would have done it slightly differently as it gaped a lot and I had to put an odd tuck in at the base of the v, but this looks reasonable if not great. Miraculously the sleeves are fine, even though I forgot to adjust the sleeve pattern after altering the armhole.. I threw in some more mini pleats and the whole thing just looks a bit 40s round the shoulders and completely intentional!

All in all I'm pretty pleased with it, and will be cooking some more Christmas food in it later.

Friday, 17 December 2010

Crafty Christmas Part 2

After my trying time with the picnic mat, I needed something a little more straightforward. I had been meaning to make a wrist pincushion for my friend Becca who likes to sew also (and frankly better than me!) so I had a little trawl through the amazing Sew Mama Sew make your own present archives and discovered the Sew Stylish Wrist Pincushion by Sachiko from Tea Rose Home which has a lovely flower appearance with the petals around the base. I also however found on a separate exploration the stickin' it to the pincushion on whipitup which makes a pincushion divided with embroidery thread into segments (I've since seen this version on several different places-not sure where it started!). I decided to combine these two into one flowery wristcushion! Generally it was pretty successful. I used a pretty fabric I got a fat quarter of at John  Lewis (and had actually already asked Becca what she thought for a pincushion-I told her it was for my mother-not sure she was fooled! though mum is getting one too so its partly true!) and stuffed it with sawdust I got from the pet shop. The petals I bought as a box of loose ones rather than a pre made flower as it was much cheaper. I messed up the band a bit however as I used elastic rather than velcro, and it wasn't stretchy enough so it's ended up too big. Generally though I'm very pleased with it. It's certainly very pretty, and I stuck some coordinating pins in it too. 

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Crafty Christmas Part 1

Along with everyone else with a sewing machine I've been trying (and not entirely succeeding) to make some nice presents for people. Frankly the whole thing has become slightly nightmarish due to the horrendous speed up of time round Christmas! Still, a few things have been made. First up, a picnic rug that folds up into its own bag for my brother and his girlfriend. They love getting out to castles in Scotland at the weekend so I thought a picnic set would be useful.

I based it heavily on the tutorial put up by Wendy , but made it bigger (good decision) and decided to make one side vinyl so that it would be waterproof (not so good decision). Turns out, vinyl is a bugger to work with!

I went with two different checks, and I am very pleased with the jolliness of the end result, if not the construction quality. Due to the vinyl I modified the method to lap the vinyl over the edges rather than turn everything inside out. I also added an extra bag piece (in the tute one side of the bag is the blanket but I  wanted a separate section to put picnic goodies inside without everything getting wet and muddy). Because of this I ended up attaching the bag to the top of the blanket rather than the bottom as otherwise the bag would be underneath the vinyl. All this worked well enough, the only issue was sewing the vinyl itself.

I had worried about water seeping through on the sticking lines but frankly this became the least of my worries. During this project I learned several key lessons for working with vinyl

1) use the longest stitch length you can and check the tension. The stuff rips really readily along the seam lines and any back and forth just ends up cutting the fabric. I also ended up with lots of knots at the back as there is no play at all with the tension (It did however work much better when I'd changed it)

2) don't rely on your feed dogs at all. The vinyl sticks to your machine and gets weighed down, so you have to feed it through with your hands all the time otherwise you end up getting stuck and cutting the fabric (see point 1)

3) prop all your fabric up at a level with the sewing machine and keep it really straight. I kept going wonky and getting stuck as the fabric was so stiff and heavy and once you've gone wonky its pretty much impossible to correct, and looks really rubbish.

4) check your thread all the time. Due to problem 1, any kind of repeated sewing is a serious error, so if your thread snaps you've got a problem.

Due to these issues, there are several places which James and Hannah may have to mend with sticky tape. STICKY TAPE! what a fail. never mind, it looked really nice, and they seemed to like it and that's the main thing!

Thursday, 9 December 2010

The Christmas Dress!

Well I have got a bit distracted this week from the projects I've mentioned earlier. I've partly been working on getting presents together-some of which are home made-photos to come. I have also been working on an impulse project-the Christmas dress!

I was inspired by The Sew Weekly's post about making outfits with Christmas fabrics - I immediately wanted one! so I toddled along to the fabric store (which I needed to go to anyway to get a long black zip for the Glee dress) and found a really fun fabric with small red berries all over it-I like that its obviously festive but could also get away with being worn not at Christmas.

The advantage of it being for Christmas and hence novelty, is that I can use it as an experiment to try out all the stuff I'm currently afraid to do! I'm mainly going to be (hopefully) wearing it for cooking 2 meals, so I can always add a cardigan and an apron! Therefore it has a FBA (which I'm not at all sure I got right-I was using the basic method but having consulted my copy of Fit for Real People I should possibly have done it differently-plus it seemed to go wrong around putting the darts back in..)  full neck facings (no dodgy hemming/bad bias here - I think this has worked but as I changed the neckline I'm not even sure if I've got it central any more! the facing looks good though-thanks to Kathleen at Fashion Incubator for a great tute and Tasia at Sewaholic for her understitching guide ) sleeves (ever my least they're short) making a proper muslin (not at all sure this helped) and making something that isn't a skirt for myself and hence needs to be bodge fitted by me straining round in the mirror and trying to explain to my long suffering flatmates what to do! Kudos to the ladies-as far as I can tell they made a pretty good job of it-and in any case I made a complete hash of tracing the muslin (I'd heard it was difficult not to distort the fabric-and that's completely true) that any weird areas are almost certainly my fault.

The dress is a modification of this vintage pattern Woman W420 that I got in a job lot off Ebay. I've put a V neck in as high neck's look awful on me, and done the aforementioned FBA. I also realise looking at it that when I adjusted the skirt I didn't notice there are meant to be its going to have to be bodged (sigh). I had wondered why it was so big..

It took me a lot longer to cut out than I planned as I hadn't realised that all 3 outfits use the same pieces-even though there are clearly different levels of ease involved. I had to go through and take different amounts off each seam which was slightly nightmarish and I have probably got it very wrong! I'm particularly worried that the sleeves aren't going to set in properly (or at all).

I have made the bodice, the neckline almost looks like a proper dress! I just need to attach the sleeves (shudder) and then work out the back/zip and bodge on the skirt somehow. I am quite concerned that this is going to be a horrible mess.Never mind-perhaps it will be an inspiring success....

(finished dress here)

Monday, 6 December 2010

4 Simple Goals

I always hate making new years resolutions as no one really means them and "this year" is too open ended in January to apply any pressure to them, but I noticed that Rachel Red Lips had made some resolutions as part of the 4 Simple Goals before 2011 started by Elsie, which are goals which are to be started before new years. Its been going on a while but I love that Rachel has started so late, the deadline seems to make it much more likely that they might happen. So I am doing the same. The goals are meant to be simple and realistic.

1) I will not eat more than 1 (normal sized) bar of chocolate a day. I eat a horrendous amount of chocolate and end up not being able to eat it for ages when I overdose, plus, it would be good to stop getting fatter!

2) Go for a walk/wander somewhere I haven't been before at least once a week (not hiking or anything but exploring Edinburgh as I have explored surprisingly little of even just the city centre and its a beautiful city)

3) Stick by my room tidy schedule. I find that I'm much more likely to be in a good mood and start /continue a project if I've got space and the clutter is slightly under control.

4) Make/get back in touch with more friends. I'm terrible at keeping in touch with people even though I miss them and this shall stop!

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Future Project - Chuck Dress

Ever since I first saw Pushing Daisies I have been in love with Chuck's wardrobe. She wears such fun vintage inspired clothing from different eras and always in really bright colours. After watching series 1 again recently I have been lusting quite hard after certain outfits. She wears a fantastic selection of coats. This is a lovely yellow wool one with a great neckline (though Im not sure I can pull off lemon myself!)

She also has a gorgeous trenchcoat.
And a great bright green and animal print wool that manages to have exaggerated details without looking bulky. 

She also has a fantastic selection of full skirted dresses with lovely necklines. I find a lot of vintage inspired dresses made now all have high necks, which look great, but terrible on me. Chuck's dresses however always have great silhouettes and are cut to show off Anna's fantastic

There is one however that I really really want (my flatmates got a bit irritated with me stopping the dvd to get a better look at it!) Its a bright pink full skirted shirtdress and its beautiful! I think the pink might be a bit much on myself so I've bought lots of a purple cotton to try with. I'm going to use Mccalls 6649, though I will take the skirt in probably by at least half, that much bulk is not going to work on me 

Lingerie set progress

I decided to start with the mini bloomers, as the reviews online have been good, and they turned out beautiful! I used a light turquoise thin satin, and it was a slight bugger to work with as it was so slippy, but luckily there isn't actually much swing involved! They are really comfortable to wear, and make great pajama bottoms. They do make me look a bit like I'm in the Moulin Rouge but they are very fun.
Then I made a matching slip using lining fabric. I used Gertie's tutorial and it was really good! It only took about 20 minutes and worked seamlessly. I am going to have to make loads more in fun colours-much more exciting than my bought black ones, and you can make them to the exact length for particular outfits. 

Now I just have to work out the top. Having looked through my patterns, I'm going to adjust this one, by making it shorter and making it a bit bigger in the bust.

Friday, 3 December 2010

Progress on the Glee dress

I hadn't got round to much sewing last week so blogging about nothing seemed a bit foolish. But I'm back. due to a cold and lots of snow cancelling all my meetings, I had a few days off this week so some sewing actually happened! I'd forgotten how much I enjoyed sewing in daylight, all the colours look so much more beautiful. 

so.. progress. 

Charlotte's been jumping up and down a bit in impatience for this so I took a proper run at it over the last few days. Firstly I cut out the pattern in her size and then tissue fitted it on her using the Fit for Real People method. I'm not sure what is going on with this pattern but it seemed to expect her to be at least 6 inches wider across the back.. very odd. I then cut out the bodice and tried that on her with the straps. The material I selected has a bit of stretch, which I though would be useful but mainly so far has been driving me mad! Despite my 6 inch reduction the bodice was still 2 inches too wide across the back! Alterations made, I cut out the same in lining and sewed it all together.  I then cut out the skirt. Its got some pleats at the top but I made it a little more flared as well, the fabric's quite heavy but has a really nice drape. The pattern only calls for a bodice lining, but I hate it when skirts ride up and Charlotte looked slightly blank when I mentioned slips so I thought I would line the skirt too. I went for a slightly bodgy more interlining approach, sewing the lining on before assembling the skirt. This turned out to be a bit of a nightmare as sewing slippery lining to stretchy fabric proved tricky, but it looks fine now its assembled. 

The front is now almost finished but I need to try it all on Charlotte before I put the zip in. I was completely confused by the instructions as I assembled it, until I realised that was just as I assumed it had a back zip when its actually meant to be the side.. not a problem, but initially confusing! 

So, dress almost done-now it needed to be a Glee dress-the's Rachel wearing hers in the show.
I made mine out of about half a yard of white fabric. It needed to be quite stiff so I ironed on some interfacing which worked very well. Then Is tarted to fiddle around with it-Charlotte had said she wanted it just right so I studied the pictures for a while. Mine is made in 4 pieces, one tube which is sewed into a ring and then flattened to make the main bow, on small flattened tube which wraps round it. and two flattened tubes with slanted ends which are folded to make the ends. I've yet to sew it together but its all pinned and I'm pretty pleased with it. 

Here is the half assembled dress. 

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

addiction to pattern buying..

Worryingly I realised the other day that it is less than 5 weeks since I first looked idly at the vintage patterns on ebay.. I am astonished that I could have accumulated so many patterns since then and slightly horrified! This realisation has prompted me to try and focus on which ones I should actually try to make rather then just collecting more. I have to try and move the satisfaction from buying them to making them!

So...a plan (I do enjoy making plans)

Firstly someone I know will be getting a silky lingerie set for Christmas and so I am going to make one for myself first to test it. I will be making the Madeliene mini bloomers from Collette Patternsas they are so cute! (and a free pattern-OK so this isn't exactly working with my stash!) and I will frankenpattern a top from a combination of two lingerie patterns from my stash. I might also add a short skirt slip if I can find the elastic, I was going to use the simplicity pattern but I've just noticed Gertie's amazing tutorial so I shall probably use that instead.

A request from my other flatmate is also a little overdue, Charlotte wants a Glee dress, based on the black dresses with white bows they wear to sing Hello Hello

Luckily I have a current pattern that should do nicely, Simplicity 2417. I bought it after Green Apples made the long cardigan from it, and I have had the purple jersey sat around for months! So that is also definitely on the list as well.

The Glee dress should be reasonably straightforward-the bow is probably going to be the problem, getting it the correct shape and stiff enough. I think I'm going to make it detachable, mainly for washing purposes. Charlotte looked a little horrified by the pattern-the print on the picture is insanely loud and quite hideous but I reassured her with the line drawing!

Halloween (slightly late!)

So, its a little late for my Halloween costume dramas, but never mind. This year I was determined to make better costumes than normal due to having a working sewing machine, last year I had only just bought it and about 3 hours of battling with inexplicable tension and thread tangling issues and trying to sew difficult fabric left me seriously drained and I didn't touch the thing for months afterwards! This year after weeks of consideration, I decided to be a scary weeping angel from Dr Who (scaring myself slightly just at the thought of it!). I had also in a reckless moment suggested I could make my flatmate Lindseys's foxy Maid Marian from Disney's Robin Hood dress.

So far so good, I had had a look through my (already ridiculous-more on that later) pattern stash, and discovered that my Simplicity 9559 which I had though was a bit of an error was actually perfect for both costumes, with a few alterations (lower neck on Lindsey's, much baggier on mine, both floor length). We went to the shop and bought some nice lilac cotton and fur, and were a bit stuck due to the lack of availability of light grey until Lindsey remembered she had some old sheets she was going to throw out and I could just dye one-perfect!

Then the drama began, Firstly I proved that my understanding of fabric dye is very limited. I tried some black dye on the sheet, aiming to take it out too quickly to get grey. This did not work, it quickly became clear that the sheets were a) too dark after about 30 seconds, and b) more blue than grey. FAIL. I congratulated myself on having only dyed one and decided that the colour was actually quite nice and I would just make it into something else later.

So next day, I reasoned that as I wasn't going to be wearing this again, or washing it, I could try some paint I had instead, SUCCESS! I got an off grey with artistic and helpful smudges on it.

I also then made myself some wings (structure) by cutting out two double wing with back bit shapes out of some really big bits of card that my friend Aaron gave me years ago when he moved, and stapled them together slightly held apart with bubble wrap so that they would stand out from my back. I then stapled on some canvas straps to hold them on, and added some additional "wingy" shape with more bubble wrap.

Now being slightly cocky, I then decided that once I'd tissue fitted Lindsey's bodice, I'd pretty much done everything and the actual sewing could be done on the day. This was not very clever of me.

So the day comes and I (after mooching about and wasting most of the day) start Lindsey's dress about 4pm (for a party staring at 9...hmm). Its all going fairly well, until we try the bodice on and the darts are all wonky. Great. so I fix them as best I can and quickly start to realise that the I've not left nearly enough time to finish hers let alone mine, so all interior finishing goes immediately out of the window, along with skirt fittings etc. I sew like a madmen (failing miserably to hide my panic from Lindsey who is making her ears) and throw the thing together (including almost 20 min unpicking the skirt side seam I've sewn inside out-definitely a case of more haste less speed!) and miraculously it all looks pretty good! . Together with her great furry ears, hastily hemmed veil and AMAZING makeup she looked incredible!

So that's great, only by now its about half 7, my costume is still a pair of stapled together wings covered in tape and a painted sheet and I'm panicking! Luckily during the mad sewing I've decided to not bother with any darts on mine, just make it baggy, and make the skirt a wrap to avoid any further side seam drama! So I chop out a massive bodice and sew the thing together. Then whilst my friend Anna used the machine to put her  wasp costume together I did the world's quickest and worst single layer printer paper paper mache job on the wings so that I could paint over the tape. half and hour in the airing cupboard was followed by the worst ever paint job (seriously it looked like a 5 year old had done it!). Then all that was needed was for Anna and Lindsey to attack the wings with a hair dryer whilst I covered myself in body paint and toxic hairspray (thanks guys for all your help-I couldn't have done it without you!)
Here is me doing my scary angel attack.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Arthur Ransome skirt

I went to the  lake district on a great road trip with friends a couple of weeks ago, and I suddenly realized that I didnt have any clothes that were suitable for a chilly October in the outdoors (even though we weren't  going to climb any mountains). therefore I decided (very late) to make something. My views on the lake district are pretty much all based on the Swallows and Amazons books by Arthur Ransome, so I clearly wanted something slightly retro and yet intensely practical, what would the amazons wear? I decided to hack up a blue wool skirt I had got from a charity shop. It was pretty simple, as it was a bit small I cut the waistband and top 8 inches off and made a new waistband and put a new zip in, and tapered the sides in to make it flare. The whole thing ended up as a shortish A-line that was very cozy for taking boat rides.

Sadly I didnt take a before picture, but it was a long straightish skirt that was 2 sizes too small.

I wore it with a fine woolley jumper, thick bright wool tights and shiny patent (but very practical) shoes.

Here is the skirt in my room (very creasy as I took it out of the washing basket for the picture) and here I am wearing it at the Pencil Factory in Keswick.

My charity shop addiction

Since realizing I can cut things up and remake them. I have become completely obsessed with charity shops. I literally cant walk past one now, much to my friends' amusement/despair. I now therefore have a substantial stash of things that I mean to alter, and which I have not got round to touching. The things I have managed to alter have mainly been skirts, which look the same once I've changed them, just slightly smaller! I have altered a summer dress but it is a bit too low and too wide so it needs further work..(currently in the wash so no photo available).

So I thought I would display some of my stash, in the hope it shames me into doing something with it!
These shapeless skirts are both pretty fabrics so will get made into some pretty dresses one day (promise!).

I love silky tops, but due to the boobs can never manage to find one that remotely fits, so I found this top, which is actually a brighter blue than this looks and is beautifully soft. I haven't yet worked out exactly what to do with it, but there's plenty of fabric.

This is a lovely jersey skirt I found, which is completely unwearable as it flaps open at the front like a sarong. But the fabric is great, so I shall have to cut it up.

And the creme de la creme... the babydoll muumuu

This is probably the least flattering and bizarre garment ever conceived, it flares from above the boobs,
and then flares out to almost an entire circle. Hideous! But the fabric is a lovely orange with little white flowers, and will make a great skirt.

Hmmm, where to start...

Well I guess I have to start somewhere, I should say that whilst I have a reasonable working knowledge of sewing, mainly from watching my mum, I haven't actually managed to make much so far. Hence this blog, which will hopefully motivate me to start (and more importantly finish!) projects.

So far my main achievement has been a silky dressing gown (which I wear all the time). I cut it off a pair of pajamas, which meant that the neckline is really odd at the shoulders but luckily this is not that obvious when I'm wearing it.

(sorry about the lack of my head, I seem to be chronically incapable of looking half reasonable in photographs!)

Its main flaw is the belt, which slips terribly, I'm not really sure how to fix this. Plus I didn't clip my seam allowances, so the seams are all really heavy. Still you live and learn!