Saturday, 28 March 2015

A Floral 60's Number

My friend Esther hosted a murder mystery for her 18th birthday party and my character was called Babs Crayfish. The key word that described my character was pink. The party was set in the 60s, so a pink shift dress complete with massive beehive it was then! Do you want to know a secret? 3 pairs of tights went into the making of that beehive. 3,
I used Tilly's Francoise pattern for the dress (the third time I've sewed it up) and embellished it with a lot of tiny lace flowers. I secured each little flower with tiny little stitches in the centre, which seems to have held them in place alright. I just embellished the front to save me time, as it was the day of the party and I was quickly running out of time!
All of the raw edges were finished with bias tape. The hem is in a "contrasting" white because I didn't have enough time to hand stitch it and I had no matching thread colour. Whoops...I carried on the "contrast theme" with a white invisible zipper which really wasn't that invisible.
The fabric was just a simple pink cotton poplin, and it attracted fluff like anything. I had to take a lint roller with me so I could be defluffed when I arrived! I had a great night at the party and the dress really helped me get into character so a double win!

Thanks for reading and to Ed for taking pictures as usual!
Lauren xx

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Spring Dress 2015

 This dress has been announced to everyone as the "Hi spring I made a dress for you, so the least you can do is turn up" dress. The fabric is an incredible cotton sateen which was part of my birthday fabric stash, in the most gorgeous spring colours.

The bodice is my bodice block and the skirt is the pleated Chardon without the top-stitching down of the pleats. The Chardon is just perfect for a full-ish skirt that really doesn't need a lot of fabric. I managed to get the dress out of 1 metre, including pocket bags!
The new thing I learnt with this dress was how to insert a zip into a seam with pockets in it, which I managed to figure out alright in the end, The trick is to sew the pocket onto the front of the skirt, and not sewing down one side of it which inserting the zip, leaving an opening.
The neckline, armscythes and hem were all finished with contrasting turquoise bias binding, because I really didn't have any fabric left over for anything. It was a nice, quick and simple make, and is fast becoming the dress that I always want to wear but I can't because it's in the wash!

That's all I've got to say about this dress so Happy Spring everyone and thanks for reading!
Also thank you to Edward for taking the photos.
Lauren xx

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Burnt out cotton dress

Exciting news! I'm now part of the Minerva Crafts Blogger Network. For my first project I wanted to do something that was moving towards spring whilst still being winter appropriate. I settled on the navy burn out cotton so I could play with hiding bright colours underneath it, muting them a bit, but spicing the dress up more than if I put navy under the navy. I was hesitating about whether to put a burgundy or emerald underneath, but emerald was definitely the right choice. It contrasts really nicely with the navy, whereas I think the burgundy would have been too dark and the contrast wouldn't have been so good.
To make the most of the almost sheer parts of the fabric, I decided to draft a yoke for the upper bodice front and back from my bodice sloper. To do this I copied the front and back bodice onto pattern paper, and drew a horizontal line where I wanted my yoke to be. I wanted it to start at the start of the top of the side seam so I dress a line across from there on both the front and the back and cut along that line. I then added a seam allowance to the bottom of the yoke and the top of the new bodice piece. This was then repeated for the back bodice.
 I cut the yokes just out of the burn out cotton and the bodice pieces and skirt pieces out of both fabrics. The skirt was a quarter circle skirt. It was supposed to be a half circle skirt but I only realised after I'd cut the pieces out that they were no where near full enough for a half circle skirt, so a quarter circle skirt it was! I actually quite like how it looks. The navy skirt pieces were cut 3 inches longer, so again highlight the floral pattern in the fabric. I used the emerald cotton poplin as an underlining, and tacked the bodice pieces to their respective underlinings to keep them from shifting. From then onwards, the two bodice fronts and two bodice backs were treated as 1 bodice front and 1 bodice back. Both fabrics were fairly easy to cut and didn't shift around a lot.
The overskirt was  attached to the emerald poplin by the waist seam only, so that each hem could hang freely. This meant that the zip was attached only to the bodice and the emerald underskirt. The poplin was really bright when it wasn't covered by the burn out cotton! The invisible zip attached well, with the nicely behaved cottons. Getting that waist seam level on each side of the zip is so satisfying!
I spent many a night wondering how I was going to finish my seams. I was very aware of the sheerness of parts of the fabric and wanted the neatest finish possible. The answer that I came up with was bias binding. I used masking tape to make out my strips, which is a great way of getting them all the same width. I repeated the same method to make bias binding from the emerald poplin. Now, I had a few difficulties with attaching said bias binding because i thought that I'd skip the ironing in half and half again stage. That was not a wise decision. Take note: bias binding is ironed in half and half again for a reason, and I made it really difficult for myself trying to attach it without doing that first! Thankfully a quick iron when it was all attached seemed to sort it out alright.
The neckline, armholes and hem were all finished with the self made bias binding. The underlining only needed bias binding for the hem. I didn't even think about pattern matching, but I really should have attempted it across the yoke. Never mind.
Looking at the back now, it's incredibly wrinkly so I'm going to have to make some adjustments to my bodice sloper. The skirt fits nicely though and the floral pattern on the back yoke looks fab!

And there you have it! Thanks very much for reading,
Lauren xx

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Navy Wool Chardon

 Hello all! Today I have to present to you my wool Chardon skirt to go with the Victoria blazer I blogged about a couple of weeks ago. I wanted a fuller skirt on rotation in my school wardrobe because the practical subjects I do (textiles and drama) involve a lot of moving around and sitting cross legged on the floor, which is incredibly hard to do in a pencil skirt which most people wear with their blazers.
I didn't have a lot of fabric left, so I opted to make a Chardon which doesn't take metres and metres of fabric, but is still full enough to move around in. Plus, it has pockets and the pleats are adorable. It's great to have a navy suit now, because it's opened up a whole different range of wardrobe options. I can also sneakily wear dresses underneath, which just makes me happy to be able to wear garments in lots of different ways. And guys, pockets are so useful! I don't know what I did without them!
It's fastened with an invisible zip in the back , all raw edges were zigzagged for some reason that I can't remember and I used an awesome floral bias binding for the hem which I bought when I first started sewing and only now have had the right project to use it on! I had just enough. 
All in all, it's a great skirt and I feel great wearing it! 
Thanks for reading and to Ed for taking pictures! We moved to a different corner of the garden today. 
Lauren xx

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Dotty Shirt Refashion

 I haven't done a refashion for a while, but the lovely Darren gave me this massive shirt to play around with for my birthday. I didn't end up doing anything particularly creative in the end. I was considering making the back the front but the complete lack of spot-matching in the back seam put me off that idea.
Instead I opted to slim it down at the side seams, and extend them further up the shirt. The sleeves were kimono, so they were pretty much chopped off with the rest of the excess.  It ended up too short be a dress but too long to be a top so I chopped a fair bit of length off. Maybe I chopped a bit too much of the length off, but it ties in a knot nicely at my waist so that's okay.
It was pretty quick and easy to do which is nice if you don't have a lot of time. It was great not having to fuss around with getting buttonholes right! It wasn't however as quick and easy as I thought it was going to be because the fabric was very slippery and the hem ended up being a bit crinkle-y.
See what I mean about the back not matching! Now I look at the back it seems that there is more sleeve on the left than the right so I'll have to fix that!
I need to make some high-waisted jeans quickly, because I got a very cold midriff when taking these photos!

That's all for now! Thanks very much for reading, and to Ed for taking the photos!
Lauren xx

Saturday, 28 February 2015

My second blogaversary!

I can't believe that I've just finished my second year of sewing and blogging! I guess that doesn't make me a beginner any more. This year I managed to make a total of 48 pieces of clothing compared to 37 items made last year which is pretty good going! I'm proud of how I've been able to consistently post for 2 years, given my track record with diaries (where entry's are usually made every couple of years when I find them when spring cleaning.) 
 This year was obviously the year of the dresses, which isn't surprising when I've finally managed to draft a bodice block that fits the way it should. I've had great fun with lots of pattern adaptation, and in this coming year I'd like to draft more complicated projects, like outerwear and maybe swimwear. I would like to master a proper long sleeved shirts with cuffs and everything. I'd also like to look at tailoring techniques like welt pockets. 
. This last year has been very much a winner for wearability, compared to the 57% of wearable items I made in my first year of sewing. I think even when projects haven't turned out quite right, this year I kept going until they were wearable, which was a good habit to have, and obviously paid off.
 My most popular post this year was very unexpectedly my Holiday Capsule Wardrobe Planning post on how I was organizing my suitcase for the 3 week trip to Australia. I did have great fun drawing all the little outfits on photoshop. Maybe I should do more posts like these? The second most popular post was my Strapless Maxi dress which I made for the sewalong on Project Sewn. I'm seriously missing it this year.
I did make my first pair of jeans, although arguably they aren't proper jeans because they didn't have a fly front. They aren't particularly comfortable which I'm blaming the lack of stretch on so I'm going to attempt some ginger jeans in the near future.
I've done pretty well for suits this year, which is good considering that I have to wear them 5 days a week. My Victoria blazer with a navy Chardon is getting loads of wear, because I do practical subjects I need to be able to sit cross legged on the floor, which I cant do very well in a pencil skirt!
The standard of the inside of my garments is steadily improving which is great. Very few of my makes have unfinished edges thanks to my overlocker. There had better be room for it at uni!
Anyhow, here's to my third year of sewing! Cheers to everybody who reads about my adventures in sewing. Very little can beat the feeling I get when a new comment appears in my inbox ;)
Lauren xx

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Quilted Lady Skater

This week I finally had a chance to sew up my birthday fabric from the lovely Beth into yet another Lady Skater dress.
The fabric is a quilted knit from Minerva Crafts in a lovely wine/burgundy colour which I'm really loving at the moment. Because of the various layers in the fabric, it did fray so all the seams were overlocked. I could just about get the whole dress out of the metre which is pretty economical.
The dress was originally a top and a skirt because I thought a quilted crop top would work really well over my dresses, but I didn't take the neckline into consideration when I cut out the pieces. The lady skater neckline is below most of my dresses, and it didn't look right when I wore it over them so I just joined the top and skirt together to make the original dress.
It does look however, a little too long in the back. When cutting out what I thought was going to be a top, I lengthened the bodice which seems okay in the front, but there is a  bit of excess in the back. Nothing that a bit of pulling down won't solve, I'm sure!
Overall, it's a really cozy dress and I'm going to get as much wear out of it as I can until it gets too warm! I'm curious to know whether you wear different colours according to the seasons? Is burgundy a colour suitable only for Autumn/Winter because it's a dark shade? Please let me know your thoughts!
Thanks very much to Ed for taking photos and to Beth for the fabric and to you for reading!
Lauren xx