Monday, 27 July 2015

Tie dye turia dungarees

Hello all! I've been in a bit of a sewing rut lately. I'm on my summer holidays with tons and tons of spare time, but I haven't been able to get motivated enough to sew. I'm sure that after my operation that it will be all I want to do! However, it turns out that all I need is to force myself to get started on something and then my mojo is back. I cut these Turia's out on Saturday, sewed them up on Sunday and wore them on Monday! 
 I wear my floral Turia's all the time so I knew that it was about time to make another pair. I was planning to make a Zeena dress with this amazing tie dye fabric but there wasn't enough, so it went back into the cubby hole. I inherited the fabric from my Grandma  and it was originally a table cloth or sheet of some sort because all of the edges were finished. I used the finished edge for the top of the bib to save on fabric, and I had just enough to squeeze all the pattern pieces out.
The day when I leave for uni is fast approaching and I've realized that the clothes I wear everyday will be scrutinized by professionals, which has been a nudge to make everything as neat and tidy and proffessional looking as possible! The instructions call for flat-felled seams but I haven't had very good experiences with them in the past. Instead I did french seams for joining the bib and the inside of each leg seam. They were then top-stitched to look like  flat-felled seams. This worked really well, and I'd definitely use this method again. 
If I was going to all of the effort with french seams, I wanted the rest of the insides to be as nicely finished as possible too. Rather than change my overlocker to white I opted to do A LOT of handsewing, which probably took double the time it would have to rethread it. Oh well, they do look fab on the inside now. The sides of the bib were turned under twice and top stitched.
For the pockets, I trimmed away the seam allowance of the underlayer and folded the outer layer under, which was slip-stitched to give a clean finish. The pocket on the left was slipstitched all the way around to the trouser piece. The right hand pocket was left loose, and instead was just secured at the bottom left hand corner to keep it in place. It seemed a shame to have really nicely finished inner seams, but badly finished outer seams so I did a handstitched flat-fell seam for those.
 The curved seams at the back were turned under twice and slipstitched but I still did the top stitching, to fit in with 'the dungaree look'.
 I changed the pockets so they were front hip pockets instead of patch pockets, using the curve of the patch pocket piece as a guide. I think I prefer these to the patch pocket look. The straps are safety pinned on at the moment, until I can get hold of a silver dungaree clasp. I'm so happy with these dungarees! They are great for the slightly chillier summer weather as they still look summery but cover more skin,
 Thanks for reading and to Ed for taking pictures!
Lauren xx

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Crop top and holly trousers combo

Hello! For this months Minerva make, I wanted to go a little bit out of my comfort zone and try something new. So, I had a crack at one of By Hand London's patterns, the Holly jumpsuit, using variation 3 for some wide legged trousers.
To complete the outfit, I made a little crop top to go with the trousers, using my bodice block and a gorgeous floral printed stretch cotton. To make it a tad more interesting I changed the neckline to a square in the front and back. The great thing is that for a crop top, you only need 1/2 a meter of fabric.
As it's a summer top I didn't want to add another layer for a lining, so I made some bias binding out of the scraps to finish the armholes and the neckline. That was handstitched into place to give a clean finish on the outside. I gave it a fairly deep hem so it would sit nicely.

And guys, these trousers are seriously awesome. I thought a linen and cotton blend would be a good choice for summer trousers, because it's really very light and airy. We learnt in textiles class that linen is thermo-regulating, meaning that it's good in hot environments. It is more expensive than cotton, but it's more environmentally friendly with little irrigation and energy to process the fibre. Linen is also the strongest of all the vegetable fibres, which in theory increases its lifespan so it doesn't need to be replaced as quickly, This linen is a fantastic shade of loganberry purple and drapes beautifully. I could see light through it when it was on the drying rack, but it seems to be fine when on my body! 
The trousers do obviously crease the minute you step out the door, but I do like the lived in look that linen has. The knees do bag out a bit throughout the day. The trousers themselves were very easy to put together, and were done in no time at all! I used a contrasting invisible zipper in the side seam for fun.  I'm so happy with the finished outfit, and I think the 2 fabrics co-ordinate really well together. I felt very suave swanning around wearing this in Winchester with Grandpa on Wednesday. Both pieces will be great for mixing and matching with other pieces in my wardrobe as well.
Thanks so much for reading, to Minerva Crafts for the fabulous fabrics and to Ed for taking pictures!
Lauren xx

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Where's Wally tee

Hello! I have a massive thing for horizontally striped fabric, but I've never found any... until now. When I found this viscose jersey I bought 1m each of red and navy stripes but sadly the navy was out of stock. This is what I made with my red stripes.
I decided that a dress would be too much so I opted for a tee instead. I used the lady skater as a base, and referenced one of my existing t-shirts for length. Check out that stripe matching! It took longer to cut everything out, but I'm so chuffed that it all matches.
I'm really really pleased with the fit. It skims beautifully. Not too tight, but not too loose. I'll definitely use this tee as a model for future tees. I only used up half a metre, so I think I'll make some stripey hudsons with the other half. Not to be worn together of course!
I cut the neckband so it would be mostly red and that worked really well. The sleeves and hem were turned under and secured with a zig zag stitch. What's fantastic is that this is the thing that everybody is surprised I made! They all thought it was shop bought.

So, when I get my hands on some more jersey you can expect to see several more tee's around these here parts! The beautiful setting of the photos is the campus of Nottingham University, where a friend and I had a look around for an open day as she goes to uni next year. The architecture and grounds of the place really were beautiful.

Thanks for reading and to Emma for taking such fabulous photos!
Lauren xx

Saturday, 4 July 2015

The 'Whose Line is it Anyway' top

 Hello all! This is the top I made to go and see Whose Line is it Anyway live (which was by the way, fantastic.) This project definitely had its ups and downs during making but turned out pretty well in the end.
I bought the fabric during my flying visit to Singapore last year. I didn't buy very much, maybe 1-1.5 metres. I originally planned to make a dress with it, but the scalloped edge was only on 1 side of the fabric and there just wasn't enough. However, there was enough for a top.
 I used the same pattern that I drafted for my V&A dress, and my dotty button up dress as a base. I lined up the scallops with the top of the side seam, planning to add straps later.
I pleated the excess in the bodice to fit the midriff panel instead of gathering, 3 pleats on each side facing towards the CF. The pleats in the peplum mirror the top. There is a lapped zip in the side seam/
 I did make straps, but I quite liked how it looked without them, although I didn't quite trust it to stay up on its own. I used clear elastic for straps, which are nice and inconspicuous, whilst making everything secure.
It was actually quite a quick top to make, seeing as the top and bottom edges were already finished!
All in all, it's a lovely top which will hopefully get lots of wear over the summer. Especially as the weathers been so nice recently! 
Thanks very much for reading and to Dad for snapping pics all over London. Also, thanks Dad for not saying I told you so when we stopped off at boots to buy blister plasters. Much appreciated.
Lauren xx

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

My First Quilt

Guys! I made a quilt! This was my sewing dare so I had something to take to uni with me. I'm completely new to quilting so it was a bit of a steep learning curve!
All of the fabrics used are from my stash, and the only thing I bought was the wadding for around 15 pounds, so it was a pretty cost effective project! However, now I see why there is such a thing as quilting cotton. Some of the lighterweight cottons I used didn't behave well atall. Next time I would underline them or just use the proper fabric!

I wanted a fairly simple block design as 80 of them would be needed and I knew I wouldn't have enough patience to make 80 complicated blocks. I had a snoop around pinterest and decided to make a value quilt which was very straightforward. Although I did get pretty bored after the 68th block. For the 4 corners of the quilt I wanted 4 of my favourite animals to make it a bit more personal. I choose a moose, elephant, dinosaur and penguin.
I found it very confusing to determine the size of everything. A twin quilt seemed to be the size needed for a single bed. Quilters seam allowances seem to be 1/4" so I made my blocks 9 1/2" and their finished measurement was 8 1/2". So I did 10 rows of 8 blocks.
After sewing all of the blocks together to make the quilt top I pieced the leftover fabric for the bottom. I then quilted from the centre to the edges in little diamonds, 1/4" from the seamline and halfway through the block. It was at this point that I learnt why quilters use safety pins to keep all of the layers in place. I also found out why there are specific sewing machines for quilters.
When everything was quilted I made the binding (all 308" of it) and sewed it to the bottom first, so I could be more accurate when attaching it to the top. Next time I'd probably do it by hand as my hands did slip a bit every now and then...
I did enjoy my foray into quilting, but I think that's the last one I'll make for a while! It takes a lot longer to see results than in garment making, but I suppose a quilt is on your bed everyday so it gets more daily use than garments which justifies the time spent on it?
Thanks very much for reading and to Gillian for the perfect dare!

Friday, 19 June 2015

Ginger Flares

Good morrow everyone! I've finally had a crack at some Ginger Jeans.  After seeing an instagram pic of some flares I couldn't get them out of my mind. When I read about the 70s comeback a couple of months ago, I thought it was awful. Fashion should be moving forwards, not backwards! Anyway, here I am, with my new flares. And I might have just made a button-front denim A-line skirt as well. What can I say! I didn't get to live the 70s first time around, but at least I can pick out the best bits now!
 It's not a jeans silhouette I've tried before, but I reckoned that if I didn't like it I could just slim down the legs, following the original pattern. To make the hem flared I followed the instructions in my pattern drafting book, which were pretty easy to follow. I tried to pay special attention when cutting, to make sure the pattern pieces were on grain, but the inner leg seams twist forwards pretty dramatically. Next time I'll cut on a single layer to be sure it's on grain.
The sewing up of the jeans went okay. I didn't bother with flatfelled seams but instead overlocked and topstitched them down. I used navy top-stitching thread, which only has a slight contrast. I used a patterned denim bought on a trip to Edinburgh last year.
 It doesn't have much stretch so I cut out a size 2 which is a couple of inches bigger than my hip measurement. The fit was perfect at the hips, but I needed to loosen them up a bit at the knees. Attaching the fly front zip went surprisingly well, following the sewalong! The way the pockets are attached is genius. I combined the back yoke and back leg piece and cut them out as 1.
I was so pleased with the buttonhole! Buttonholes look so much nicer when sewn using top-stitching thread! The really cute jeans button I bought in a pack of 10 from ebay. The topstitching is mostly on track. Luckily the bits that are off track aren't too noticeable in the navy thread.

To fully embrace the 70s vibe I thought I'd bring out some of the clothes Grandma made and I inherited. The front of the waist coat is all hand embroidered beautifully!
It must have taken forever! Embroidery with mirrors is known as Shisha Embroidery. It's a classic Indian textile art and 'Shisha' means 'Little glass' in Hindi. There are 3 islamic beliefs about mirrors: They trap the evil eyes reflection, reflect the eye away from the wearer or blind the evil eye, so they are there as protection for the wearer. The mirrors are traditionally made from blown glass which is silvered on the back and broken into various shapes and sizes. The mirrors are secured with a tight framework, and no glue is used. The framework covers the mirror face and is pulled aside by cretan stitches leaving the mirror exposed in the centre,
This tunic has little seashells as buttons, and applique at the cuffs and centre front.
But, there is just as much going on in the back! There is some more shisha embroidery and applique. I love the amount of skill, patience and work that must have gone on these garments. Even though I don't wear them on a daily basis, I'm glad that I brought them out for this photoshoot.
So, I'm really pleased with my jeans! I've decided that I like flares and now I want to make all of the jeans! Exams are now over, so it's time for a summer of sewing!!! Thank you to Edward for taking pictures!
Lauren xx

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Culotte Jumpsuit

Continuing with my new-found love of culottes I decided to try some longer ones, added to my bodice block to make a jumpsuit. I had one fabric in the stash that was perfect, given to me by a fellow clarinetist a year or two ago. I think it's silk, and the colours in the print are just gorgeous. 
 I used the same vintage culotte pattern that I made my purple culottes from, which is Simplicity 7463. For my purple ones I made the white pair, and I was planning on lengthening those, but with the pleat in the middle it wouldn't fit onto the fabric. Instead I used the pattern pieces for the light blue culottes, lengthened another couple of inches.
The hips were a couple of inches wider than my measurements, so I used the excess to make a little pleat each side. I didn't sew the darts, but pleated them to match the culottes. I think in this version they are a little too far away from the centre front, so I'd move them closer next time.
These culottes were as much of a nightmare to hem as the last ones. Seeing as they were too long to hem while wearing them, I hung them on a hanger and evened the hem that way. I think the fullness in each of the legs is perfect.
I wasn't sure if I'd like the length, but I think it works with my (only pair) of heels. I feel very elegant when wearing it. There is a bit of gaping at the back neckline unfortunately. It had to have a lapped zipper as that was only what I had in my stash, and I can never make them particularly invisible, but I think I've finally mastered it. Upon reflection, putting the zip in the centre back seam would have been a better idea, as it takes a bit of wriggling to get into.
It's finished off really cleanly inside with all raw edges overlocked. The armholes and neckline I used bias binding for (using the fabric scraps) which was slipstitched invisibly to the wrong side. The hem was turned under twice and slipstitched. 
I finished it just in time to go and see The Piano Guys in Nottingham, and they were fantastic! Thanks very much for reading, and to Ed for taking pictures. 
Lauren xx