Sunday, July 26, 2015

Tote bag to cushion cover

I ordered a print from one of my absolute favourite artists, Neil Sanders, and when it arrived he'd included a tote bag with more of his excellent characters on it. I do use tote bags often, but they get dirty and ruined really fast, which I couldn't bear to happen to these guys!


So now it's a cushion cover instead - a really quick switch. I unstitched the strap, took the bag in 1/2" at each side so that it would measure the same as the cushion pad, 16" x 16", and then made four button holes for the top. Now I can look at Terrance, the big guys, and Peeps, the small guys, ALL THE TIME - which is exactly how often I want to look at them!


Thursday, July 23, 2015

Skater dress and tuxedo jacket

Hello! I've been thinking a lot about fabric block printing and painting lately. I'm very inspired by pretty much everything that Marilla Walker makes and sews - wonderful fabric combined with a super and original style aesthetic. I'm always excited when she's done a new blogpost - what did I do before sewing blogs??

So I'm looking online for old sheets and cheap pale fabric to get started with. And in the meantime, I wanted to have a go at making a skater type dress, copying one I saw on Etsy. 

I was imagining a nice drapey white with a shorter skirt, but when I found this weird waffley long-johns fabric at (my now firmly established favourite) Fabric House Ltd on Goldhawk Road, I knew this was the one. The really nice owner there pointed out some weird quirks of the fabric (the makers appear to have abandoned the flower pattern in the centre few inches for some reason. Kind of reminds me of the time I was shaving my legs and got bored after the first one and just left the other). But as he said, at £2 a metre you really can't complain!

Still needs (a)hemming 

I thought the bodice of the By Hand London Anna dress could work, and I did mostly work from that. I brought the slash neck in a bit, and lowered the neckline. Then I dropped the waist a little (which I think was an error actually) and sort of bodged the gathers. I used the skirt I'd already hacked from my last go at the Simplicity 1880. The idea for this dress pretty much hinged on the red/cream combo, and I definitely had a keenness to get my piping on. I bought some cord and used some cotton to get nice thick piping, which went on easily with my zipper foot. Then some stash buttons completed the look. The belt is from a Portobello Road find in a totally copied colourway, another inspiration for this dress.

I see this guy as a very wearable toile, and would like to have another go soon. I rushed it in my eagerness to see if I had enough skills acquired to realise the idea I'd had in my head. I'm hoping that as I go on, I will rush less if I come to trust that I can more or less make the things I'm starting to imagine. With setbacks, no doubt! I'm dreaming lots about a black and white sailor style dress next...

Ahoy! Soon...

I also have a blazer I made a few weeks ago to show. This is a different chap altogether. After making a couple of Morris blazers, I thought the pattern would work really well to copy a truly excellent look I saw photos of Kristen Stewart wearing a good while back which really stuck in my mind for general ace insouciance (though she always appears good at that, jacket or not). 

How brilliant is this look! I see now it's a Roberto Cavalli jacket - I also see, looking at it for the first time since making mine, where mine doesn't quite have the same effect!! Hers is more smoking jacket style, satin patterned radness whereas mine is more... bad prom tux.

Looking hard like Kristen. I'm going to be in Twilight now, probably.

Actually, I just found this pic too - obviously Ryan Gosling couldn't look crummy, but still it's not the look that I was going for! I haven't really found much use for this jacket. But if/when I get invited to prom, no doubt it'll come into its own!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Dress vision

On the bus this morning I was thinking about a dress I saw online, and how I could make my own version. I'm thinking it could go like this - I'm excited to give it a go! I think it'll be doable...!

Annnddd this orange skirt... mmmm!

Monday, July 13, 2015

Tablecloth Brumby skirt

I went to a wonderful wedding just gone in Norwich, and had my first experience of shape note singing - an a cappella folk hymn singing with its roots in 19th-century America. It was very moving and I loved taking part. And I wore my new Brumby Skirt for the occasion! 

The Brumby is Megan Nielsen's new skirt pattern, and it's very loveable - it has nice topstitching detail down the front, and lovely big curved front pockets. And I knew just the fabric for it - in South Africa about 15 years ago I found this cream and black print in a textile printing and weaving shop. I have been using it as a tablecloth (for best!) ever since. So, it was a little worse for wear and sporting a few of what my friend Hania calls food medallions. I had to be a bit cunning to cut round those, or hide them away in the pockets, and was mostly successful!

I absolutely love the fabric, which is a thick, roughish cotton, and the print is also very dear to me.

My first exposed zipper - love the look of these, but I definitely need a ton of practise.

Cotton waistband lining.

I followed the instructions as they were given and found them nice and clear. I put the waistband on upside down at first, which was maddening and required a lot of unstitching, but I hopefully won't make that mistake twice!

I cut a size M but then took 1/2" off each end of the waistband and its lining - so 1" off the waist altogether. It's still a little big, so next time I'll cut the S and hope that won't be too snug! I'm still figuring out how tightly I want my waistbands to fit. 

There are many excellent things about this pattern, but my favourite has to be the giant pockets. Here they are in action - holding a shoe, a copy of Dr De Soto, the TV remote, a wooden guinea fowl and a CD. And still plenty of room for more! I may forgo a handbag from now on and just decant everything into these pockets. Hurrah for the Brumby!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Simplicity wedding dress

Hello, and greetings from boiling hot London!

I was at a lovely wedding in the Netherlands last weekend, which provided a great opportunity to make a new dress! I think weddings are going to be nonstop sewing excuses from now on...

I went straight on with another Simplicity 1880 as to me it's the most "ladylike" pattern I've made so far. I bought a linen from Fabric World on Goldhawk Road for £4 a metre. I just don't know enough about fabric to know how likely this is - it feels nice although like it might not last very well - but £4 seems insanely cheap for 100% linen. Anyway, while I'm still a beginner sewist and working out what suits me, I feel it's not worth my spending a lot on fabric.



I haven't much to add after my last post on this dress, apart from the few changes I made to the fit. I took a 6/8" wedge out of the centre back as that helped it fit better round my neck and shoulders. I also extended the skirt by about 6" and narrowed it to take out some of the volume - I also made it into two pieces rather than four, to eliminate the front seam and reduce the french seam sewing time!

I left off my cunning button gaping-neckline-solution this time - and sure enough it now shows a bit more than is ideal! I'll have to find some nice buttons to remedy that - more for the benefit of others, naturally, as after standard mine-sweeping wedding behaviour I sure won't be noticing...

When I first put this on, I was upsettingly reminded of a monk's habit, specifically The Name of the Rose ones... although looking at that photo again I think it was more in my head than a real worry! But still; another lesson in however much you plan, sewing-wise, something like the colour/pattern combo suggesting Sean Connery is something you just can't plan for.

I've already cut out another version of this in more dubious stripey "linen" for the next wedding, next weekend! This is a friend who is a serious sewer herself, so I must dress to impress!