Saturday, 3 November 2012

Makers that inspire... Wychbury

It's almost Remembrance Sunday, every year I buy an official poppy and every year I've lost or broken it within the day.  A handbag, a seatbelt, a coat - whatever, I'm clumsy and that's how it goes!

This year I picked up a handcrafted one from Wychbury to supplement my official one. Wychbury donate £1.50 for each of the poppies they sell, they're beautiful and will last me a lot longer than the paper ones!

You can find out more about the history of poppies, and how donations are used from the Royal British Legion website.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

The Flirty Cherry skirt

Way back in August, a good friend had her birthday and I decided (was told?) to make her something as a gift! The criteria: It needed to have a cherry print (like my first dress that she liked), and the cut would need to be her style. Now, she has lots of super-girly clothes, is petite and super slim. So I needed to find a pattern that would fit, was flirty enough, and would hopefully match the rest of her wardrobe... 

After far too long deliberating I came across this pattern from Vogue, V8295. It's too long, but I thought it might work with a lot of shortening and some cute fabric.

Supplies for this one are from right across Britain! I picked up the cherry fabric at Mostyn's Abakhan Fabrics, the lining came from Brick Lane in London and the lace trim from Watson and Thorntons in Shrewsbury.

I chose to just drop the hem band to keep the length short, but think it'll probably need more trimming to get it the right length for her. 

And so, the final verdict? Well she seems to like it! I'm absolutely convinced it won't fit her (the dreaded unpredictable 4 inches of 'ease'), but fingers crossed! I'll upload some pictures of her wearing it if / when she sends them over.

As an aside, if you're looking for fabric shops, you might want to check out my map of fabric shops across the UK. I'm writing reviews as I come across new places :)

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Shoddy party dress

Last year at Christmas I made the decision to make my own dress for the festivities, as a way of celebrating all that I'd learnt about sewing in the past year. I picked up Cynthia Rowley dress 2497 free with Sew magazine which I had a subscription for at the time. 

All went nice and slowly for the few weeks, and then BOOM it was the night before the Christmas party and I only had the base colour cut out, the contrast fabric hadn't been chosen and it was all going to pot!

After staying up until midnight and stitching it was finally done... the shoddiest dress I've yet made, a bright red zip, threads hanging off, not one bit of overlocking! Thankfully the fabric was just £2 p/m from a market stall in Horsham, so it didn't feel like I wasted too much money. The navy contrast was just kicking around from the stash.

Luckily for the first wearing it was dark so the threads couldn't be seen, everyone thought the ruffles couldn't possibly be done by me as a second dress, so they concluded the bright red zip must be a design element, until I confessed. Christmas day was another matter, but what's a trailing thread or 50 between family ;)

A fantastically easy pattern to make up, but once you've done it once there's little incentive to make it again, I think it could look very samey to do another. What do you think guys?

Monday, 1 October 2012

Self-Stitched September: Week 4

Just one wear again this week... Thoroughly boring to wear the same blouse again, but felt an utter lack of inspiration!

Anyway I wore this to university and then on to deliver a talk to a philosophy group. A busy day - you might be able to tell this was taken at almost midnight after the talk and a pint of local ale - so tired!

Self Stitched September all done then! Phew - it's made me realise that I'm bored of all my makes. Think the pace of stitching will be slowed down until the thesis is done...

Monday, 24 September 2012

The sweetie nightie

I always thought that making your own sleepwear was a silly idea - why make something that people don't see, that you can pick up so easily from a high street store for cheaper than the fabric would cost? Well, then I saw some fabric and trims in Abakhan's in Mostyn, and well... I changed my mind! About £3p/m, it still works out to be as pricey as just buying off the shelf, but I fell in love! And there was lots of lace trims! It was a match made in heaven...

After weeks of searching I decided on New Look 6984. It's actually a dress pattern, but all the nightie patterns I came across were too frumpy or naff!

I think it turned out just as I had hoped - sweet and pretty. It's different from anything you'd buy in the shops, yet it's practical too... Only one alteration to the instructions was needed - adding velcro rather than a button - for comfort. Always important to remember that the scratchy side faces up to avoid irritated skin. This time I remembered!

I think the lace looks great, I'm really happy with the finished result...

Though, sewing with such a tiny band was a little bit of a headache (I cut corners and don't hand sew wherever possible). Can you make out how small it was on this picture?

What do you think? Would you ever (or have you already) make a nightie?

Friday, 21 September 2012

Self-Stitched September: Week 3

Just one photo this week - have been a little all over the place, and without my stash of makes!

Monday 17th September
Delivering training and last day on placement...

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Craft Class: Corset pattern making

I have been so excited about going on a corset making class since I booked it in December last year. Held at Acton Scott Museum, where they filmed Victorian Farm, the class promised the chance to learn about corsetry, draft your own pattern and learn how to make one. I've always been interested in Victorian history - the judgemental religiousity, politics and fashion is fascinating. Wikipedia has an excellent brief glimpse at some of the relevant women's history that interests me. (As an aside, The Suspicions of Mr Whicher: The Murder at Road Hill House provides an excellent glimpse into some of the social history as well as being a ripping good yarn!)

Anyway, back on topic. Being in Shropshire, the venue was incredible, with a stunning view from our room. The large glass windows did mean that we were watched like monkeys in a zoo by the passers by!
As well as the actual process of construction, we also discussed the history - whether the corset was a method of control / repression in women (and similarities with stilettos). We also had a chance to understand more about the fashions of corsets at the time, and how they evolved through the period.

I found pattern making stretched my brain further than it's used to being stretched. I think I was the most novice of the sewers there so I learnt more of the basics (like adding seam allowances) than other attendees. Sarah was wonderfully patient though and talked us through each step carefully.

In the end I'm pretty happy with my draft - happy to report that I could still breathe and sit down, though the it squashed more than providing uplift! (Adjustments required)

Though I think the others would be able to take the next step alone, I'm going to get in touch with Sarah sometime next year to book in for a day to make the final product. I've never tried to use boning, so I think I'll need to get some significant help for that!

A fantastic day, highly recommended to all Intermediate sewers!

Friday, 14 September 2012

Self Stitched September: Week 2

Saturday 8th September, a trip to the Paralympics to watch the wheelchair fencing, wearing JJ 6009. This blouse has so much potential, but everytime I wear it I end up feeling so frustrated. The button keeps popping open and the collar is just so annoying. I think it'll be going to a clothes swap as soon as I can get over the hours of frustration that went into making it! At least the sport was good, and so inspirational - I really want to give fencing a go soon!

Monday 10th September, my last full week on placement, wearing the Try again dress (Project Runway 2588), with a bright orange cardigan. This was a rushed photo as I was running late for work, whoops!
Give me a shout if you're taking part in Self-Stitched September, would love to see everyone's makes!

Thursday, 13 September 2012

The Yuppie Skirt - New Look 6837

This is actually my second time around with 1980s pattern New Look 6837, one I picked up in a charity shop. Whilst the packaging is all 1980s, the clothes the pattern makes seem to look pretty classic to me. The instructions are clear and straightforward. The only strange thing is the sizing. Last time the top I made was too big and had to be given away, this time the skirt is a little too snug!

I made the skirt using a grey-blue linen fabric picked up at the Stitch and Craft Fair, nice and simple. I lined it with a matching blue 'silk' fabric.

I actually made a mistake on the waistband, things got a bit trapped and I didn't realise until it was too late, but luckily you can't tell!

All the photos were taken with my new camera, a birthday gift. Absolutely love it! Have lots of makes that didn't get onto the blog yet, so expect a small flurry of posts as and when I get time!

Please drop me a comment - what do you guys think? Good skirt for work? What colours would you wear it with?

Friday, 7 September 2012

Self Stitched September: Week 1

Despite having very few of my own makes I've decided to take part in Self Stitched September, a challenge lots of sewist bloggers have taken part in the last few years. Like Me Made May, the idea seems to have been originally conceived by Zo of Collette Patterns, though this year they seem to have been quiet on organising it. Here's a link to her post last year.

This year I'm not aiming to wear something I made every day, just most days, here's the first week's line up...

1st September...Waking up to wearing my new nightie, not yet blogged! It's New Look 6984, more info to come soon on a future blog post.

2nd September, New day, same nightie!

 3rd September, the Joanie dress (New Look 6000) got brought out for work.

4th September I wore my favourite blouse New Look 6963, the original version. 5th I had a break with nothing else clean / suitable for work!

 6th September, for a meeting and birthday drinks with friends I wore my other New Look 6963, the Japanese Blossom Blouse.

Who else is taking part in Self Stitched September? Drop me a comment if you're a fellow blogger / tweeter, would love to see other people's outfits!

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Retro bag for a digital camera

Another gift, this one a bag for a very well loved and used camera (the one that takes the nice photos on here). This is actually my second go with these instructions, though the first didn't make this blog yet.

This time instead of cardboard for the base I used two layers of felt, not enough to protect against a big hit, but enough to protect the screen on the back. Last time cardboard didn't do a great job and just became damaged and added unnecessary bulk.

I found this fantastic fabric on Ebay - I love the retro print, perfect for a digital camera!

 I chose to use it on the inside - a hidden detail in an otherwise quite anonymous bag. I just love interestingly detailed lining.

The cord ends were sealed with a knot, and then clear nail varnish. So far that's been enough to hold back the fraying, and this time the ends don't feel too sharp or scratchy. 

All the overcasting was done with my sewing machine, and turned out really well. I also slipped in one of my 'Hand made with love' ribbons for a detail. I really love adding these, and will need to buy more very soon!

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Stonersaurus and the Monkey Shorts

In an ongoing bid to give original and affordable gifts I've been busy stitching! These shorts were made using Simplicicty 1889. As you can see there were lots of variations available, but I stuck with the simple D shorts.

I used what I think are some amazing fabrics and buttons. This dinosaur fabric (which I'm calling Stonersaurus owing to the suspicious looking ferns) was picked up super-cheap from Birmingham Rag Market, though I don't remember how much for. I've got a slightly paler version too, so I'm hoping to use them together for a nice contrast fabric sometime.

 Isn't it super cute? I also found this amazing button in a sewing shop near my workplace...

And HURRAH, looks like my Curious George fabric has finally all gone! I do love it, but it's getting a bit samey to sew with! I'm wondering though if these trousers are just a bit too ridiculous... Hopefully they'll fit for one of the to-be parents... Do you think they're ok for both genders, just boys or girls? Or really, are they ones for the charity shop?

When picking up the dinosaur buttons I also happened across this ribbon, which I'm going to use for all my projects (at least until it runs out) - it's on the Stonersaurus shorts too. Long term I'd love to print my own ribbon, but you know what? I have better things to do right now!!

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Makers that inspire: Musa Bamba

Around 18months ago a former colleague wrote on Facebook about her friend who made jewellery, and did any of us want to buy her things? Of course I did! I've worn this necklace so often since I bought it, and its unusual design frequently gets compliments.

I recently found her website, Musa Bamba and I confess I'm planning my next purchase, one of her lovely unusual bags.

This bag has everything I love about crafted items, it's beautiful, unique, and buying supports an independent crafter using her skills. How long till pay day??

Sunday, 15 July 2012

The 'try again' dress

Back way in February I received a gift of some lovely Joel Dewberry fabric from the John Lewis sale, and it was all lined up for making a perfect 1950s 'housedress'. But then it turned out (mid cutting!) that I had far, far too little - note to self: planning is a good idea...

After a few months of gathering dust I finally got some inspiration from one of the patterns that came free with Sew Magazine, Project Runway 2588. Lots of people have made this one up, with some really exceptional results.

It turned out to be very straightforward (though that's not prevented some significant making faults - damn you zipper!). I misjudged the bodice size too, so it's got a little tendency to gape at the sides - though with some adjustments to the seam allowance I no longer look like the hunchback of Notre Dame...

I just love the neckline of this dress, it feels so elegant, and classy - I think I'll be making this one over and over again. The length should be considerably shorter according to the instructions, but this fabric is a bit sedate for that I think!

I'm planning to wear this to a charity karaoke event this Friday, but I can't decide if it's more work or play dress. Like the Joanie dress as I get more used to it (and trust my judgement a bit more) I'll wear it more often.What do you guys think? Any thoughts on fabrics you'd use to make it up?

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Baby gifts (+ pattern matching!)

It seems I'm at that phase in life where everyone's getting pregnant and having children - I think there must be something flowing through the British water system at the moment! With three little ones due in the next couple of months it's definitely time to bring out the Nested bibs again (already made here).

None of the parents knows the sex of their babies so I went fairly gender neutral, sticking with my good old Curious George fabric already used for a cushion for Baby A, and a super girly Liberty print pattern for good measure!
It's the first time I've done pattern matching and though this is about as easy as it could possibly get I'm pretty happy with the finished effect. I also did some top stitching with white thread which overall looks pretty alright!
 They'll be going in the post next week to the soon to be parents - fingers crossed that they like them!

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Makers that inspire: All my friends!

One of my wonderful friends Kathryn, got married recently, and for her hen do we got together with Make do Mender's Bee to stitch a quilt to celebrate (I blogged a little about the day here)
The quilt has now been completed and it looks beautiful. It captures just some of the excellent moments in their lives together, and hopefully it will be a real keepsake for them both. 

And of course, the wedding day was wonderful, the speeches fantastic, the bride beautiful, and the dancing... drunken ;)

The quilt really inspired me, and I've decided that as next year will be a big one for me: turning the big 3-0, finishing my university course (hopefully), and hopefully the start of a fulfilling new career, I'd like to mark it with a quilt too. I'm going to ask lots of people to contribute to the quilt, so if you know me, get ready ;)

Sunday, 10 June 2012

The Metropolis Project

A while ago I invested in an order from Decades of Style which included a 1940s blouse pattern, redrawn. Shortly afterwards a good friend of mine @LovesNMacarons happened to mention on Twitter a fabric she liked from Liberty, inspired by the film Metropolis...

Well, an idea was born, and the rest is history.

This was by far the most difficult project I've attempted to date and I had weeks of feeling so intimidated. At one point I thought I'd lost a pattern piece (I hadn't). Once it was done it seemed remarkably easy - what was I worrying about? It's a really fragile blouse due to the dodgy sewing but hopefully it still turned out looking vintage and yet modern enough to be wearable!

I'm still awaiting a photo of her in the finished project (she's just about the busiest person I know) but will update this blog post as soon as I get one!

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Me Made (Tuesday night in) May! Week 4

My original plan was to do Me Made Saturdays in May because I don't have enough own made clothes for the whole month, but I ran out of steam this weekend and decided to wait until Tuesday night, a friend's birthday meal out.
You probably don't recognise this dress, it was knocked together hours before a Christmas night out and I've not had a chance to take nice photos for the blog. One day it'll be snapped properly!

Anyway, it was a great night, and everyone loved the dramatic ruffles!