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!)