Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Mallori Lane Bralette

Hi Everyone! I tried something new last weekend. Bra-making! I've been wanting to dip my toes into the bra-making waters for a while now and Madalynne's new pattern Mallori Lane is what gave me the push to attempt making lingerie.
I ordered my plush back elastic, strapping and sliders from different ebay shops. The elastic came in either 3m or 5m bundles. I got the 5m, and I have quite a bit left over for another project. The strapping only came in a 2m bundle so I bought one and hoped for the best. (2.5m is specified in the pattern). I ended up having some left over strapping too, so that wasn't a problem. I didn't do a second horizontal strap across the back, but I would have had enough. I just thought it looked fine without it.
I used fabrics that were already in my stash. Long-time readers may recognize the lace from my Lace Lady Skater and Lace Bomber Jacket. It seems to be the lace that keeps on giving! I used a scrap of white interlock to underline it. Spray basting is recommended in the instructions, and after sewing the bralette up I can see why! It would have made life a lot easier, had I had some on hand.
I wasn't quite sure how to marry up the scallops and the bottom band piece but ended up cutting the interlock as specified. I then matched that to the starting point of the scallops, so the lace pieces were longer. The insides are so pretty, because most of the seams are covered with the plush back elastic. The 2 lower side seams are overlocker, but the rest of the bralette was sewn on my normal machine with a zigzag.
Even though I've never sewn a bra before, I found the instructions quite easy to follow. The only bit that got me confused was putting the straps together, but with comparison to other bras and some fiddling I got there in the end. I wasn't sure which side of the strapping was the 'right side' but I chose to have the matte side facing upwards, and the shiny side towards my skin, I'm not convinced about how the sliders look at the front, so next time I'll probably put them at the back.
My very unsubstantial bust circumference is 29 inches, and the XXS on the pattern is 30-31". I cut out the XXS and ended up taking in each side of the front piece a fair bit, but the bottom band was fine, and didn't need any alteration. The sides were gaping a bit even after I'd taken them in, so I added a little tuck into the seamline, which isn't particularly noticeable. Maybe adding in that 2nd horizontal strap would have helped.
I wasn't quite sure about whereabouts to put the front and back of the straps, and ended up putting the bralette on my mannequin and guestimating where they should be. Some notches would have saved me some time there. That being said, this project only took 2 1/2 hours, and was the perfect way to spend a Saturday afternoon.
Mallori Lane is pretty supportive (for my tiny bust anyways) and I feel totally secure wearing it. The scallops on the bottom bands make me stupidly happy. It's a bit of a workout to get in and out of, but that may just be because I'm used to a back closure.
It was very refreshing to print out a 7 page PDF (including instructions!) I didn't have to tape a single page together since every pattern piece has it's own page.
Thank you all for reading and a huge thank you to Edward for setting up a little indoor studio this evening with fancy lights and everything! I do need to iron the backdrop next time though... I hope you've enjoyed seeing something a bit different on the blog. I was going to take pictures of Mallori Lane on my mannequin, but it's so hard to get a feel for what it looks like on an actual body, so I thought I'd better give modelling it a go. It's not so bad, because it's almost waist length anyways. Obviously, when I go out I will wear something over it!
Lauren xx

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Leavers Ball Dress

There have been so many designs in my hair for this dress over the last year, and I'm really pleased with what this dress evolved into. A friend of mine bought me a gorgeous vintage sari for my birthday, and I decided that it would make a great Leavers Ball dress. 
The fact that I cut the dress from a sari was both a blessing and a curse. What would have been the raw edges of the fabric had a rolled hem, so they were already finished for me (They became the front and back necklines). The sari was 4 metres long which is plenty of fabric for a short dress. I wanted to incorporate the stripes, but they only featured on the first metre or so of the sari so I could only use them on the front bodice. It would have been nice to continue them down into the skirt. There are also some worn patches on the skirt which I didn't notice until it was finished.
The back features a lower V-neck than the front, and the skirt was basically 4 gathered trapeziums. I learnt how to gather on my overlocker and it is fantastic. I'll probably never gather on my sewing machine again.
The bodice was my first ever attempt at draping! I pinned each selvedge to each shoulder of the mannequin, so the fabric was on the bias and the stripes were diagonal and improvised from there! I made a seam where the necklines met, which formed the V-neck. I then pinned the left selvedge to the left-hand side seam of the mannequin, and ditto for the right. All of the excess fabric was pleated towards the centre seam, which did interesting things with the stripes. I wanted the pleats to stay down, so I top-stitched them in place but I'm not really sure if they count as pleats anymore. They do kind of get lost in the print, so maybe they would have been more effective on a plain fabric, I did pretty much the same thing for the back. 
The skirt is pretty sad and droopy without petticoats, but with them twirling is just amazing. It's a pity the music wasn't jazz or swing, because that would have been amazing to dance to in this dress. I had 2 existing little black petticoats which I normally wear together because they don't have enough poof on their own. I added some white netting between the 2 of them to give it some extra oomph. 
The back and front bodices were tied together at the shoulders in a little double knot. There's an invisible zip in one of the side seams, which I managed to get pretty invisible. (Yay!) I did have some issues with the bodice side seams stretching out slightly because it's on the bias so I should have stabilized that because the waist seam is a tad slanted. It's hidden by the belt so it's okay.
Onto the flowers! When the the bodice and skirt were joined together, I felt that it was a bit lacking. I love all of the couture dresses that have 3D flowers on them so I thought I'd give them a try. I made them with rectangular strips, that were about 12inches long and 1 1/2 inches wide, folded them in half length ways, and gathered the raw edges together on my overlocker. Then you just wrap it into a flower shape and sew it where needed! 
 I used 3 different types of purple fabric to co-ordinate with the colour of the stripes in the bodice, and placed them strategically around the hem. It took a fair bit of time to get them all sewn on but I got there in the end! I only realised that I could have done the hem whilst sewing the flowers on with 1/4 of the hem to go, but oh well! Some of the flowers are more stable than others! After the first 50 I just wanted it to be done!!!
I also made a matching flower crown. I was orginally going to make one out of the fake flowers like I did for my year 11 prom, but they were too far out of my budget so I made flowers out of fabric scraps and sewed them to a paperclip chain the circumference of my head. It worked out pretty well!
I think that's it! I learnt so many things throughout this project: how to drape a bodice, gathering with an overlocker, how to make flowers and a flower crown. I love twirling around at Leavers Ball last night and recieved some lovely compliments.
Thanks to Paul for the beautiful fabric, and to Edward for the photos!
Lauren xx

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Lady Skater Wrap Dress Hack

Hi All! Today I have to share with you a wrap dress hack, using the Lady Skater dress pattern by Kitschy Coo as a base for the bodice and this beautiful jersey. This was my third Minerva Crafts Blogger Network make.
To make the wrap bodice I traced both sides for the front bodice piece (which is originally cut on the fold) and drew a diagonal line from the shoulder seam to the waist side seam. I cut off the excess, pinned the new pattern piece to the fabric and cut 2. The back bodice I left the same because the wrap is just going on in the front. I ignored the patterns binding piece and measured the diagonal line of the bodice front x2, plus the back neckline.  I started sewing the binding at the waist of the right bodice front, going upwards across the back neckline and then down the left bodice front, then cutting off the excess. I did pull the binding a bit taut to prevent gaping. The skirt is a circle skirt, which is the with of the left bodice front, the back and the right bodice front as it wraps over itself.
The left-hand tie was sewn into the side seam, and the other was sewn to the waistline of the right-hand front bodice piece. The dress then ties at the side. Because the fabric is so busy the ties are pretty much invisible. It would have been interesting to do them in a contrasting colour so they stand out more. Maybe next time! 
The dress does sit really nicely. All of the dress was sewn on my overlocker, making it a really quick and easy make after I'd done the pattern hacking. I left the armholes and hem raw because as it's a knit, it won't fray. I cut the hem length a bit longer than usual, so I would have enough for a hem but I liked the longer length so left it as it was.
 I've never made or worn a wrap dress before so it was interesting to try a different shape, and I must say I quite like it! This dress is so, so comfy, because the fabric is so soft and being a knit it stretches with you.  It's definitely a secret pajamas dress. The colours in the print are really beautiful pinks and purples which brighten me up when I wear this dress. Even after a spell on my 'floordrobe' it was crease-free and ready to wear straight away which is exactly what I need.
Thank you for reading, and to Emma and Paul who took the photos for me! Also, thank you to Meghan for rescuing me when I got too dizzy twirling to stand. Unfortunately all of the twirling photos show EVERYTHING, so it was all for nothing. 
Lauren xx


Sunday, 10 May 2015

Tie-dye Culottes

Hello All! Please permit me to present to you my take on culottes! I've been seeing a lot of them around the fashion scene lately, and even though I am definitely anti-fashion when a new trend comes along that I like the look of, I'll give it a go. And if I like it, then I'll wear it forever until I tire of it, not when the fashion industry tires of it.
 I dug out Simplicity 7463 from my stash and decided to make view 3 (the pink ones), lengthening them to the shin. It turned out that I didn't have enough fabric to do that, so settled for having them just above the knee instead.
It turned out that when the hem was just above the knee I was totally indifferent about them, so I shortened them a bit and hey presto I love them! I might have been a tad enthusiastic with the shears but they cover everything decently, so it\s fine!
I inherited the fabric from my grandma, and I think she may have tie-died it herself to create the awesome print. I'd love to know how she did it.
As the pattern was a size 12, and I'm a 6/8 so I took it in at the waist and hips a bit, but the rest seamed to be okay. I'm really happy with the finishing of these culottes. Every seam is overlocked, and I used facings for the waist and hems. I'm also really proud of the lapped zipper that I inserted by machine at the center back. I've never had a successful one so I tend to use invisible zips or handpick them but I'm so pleased with how this one turned out!
And this is me proving that they are culottes. The hem was a nightmare to even out due to the box pleat at the front, especially as my mannequin can only have dresses or skirts put on her. In the end I put them on me, and measured from the waistline as far around as I could reach. It seemed to work out okay. It's a pity that I have already had my last P.E lesson because I would have loved to wear these for tennis. 
Thanks very much for reading and to Ed for taking a break from revision to snap some pictures!
Lauren xx

Friday, 8 May 2015

Me-Made-May 2015 Week 1 round up

 Hello all! This years pledge for Me Made May is as follows: "I, Lauren Digby of www.ladysewalot.blogspot.co.uk, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May '15. I endeavor to wear at least one handmade garment each day for the duration of May 2015 and try not to have any outfit repeats." It's going well so far. I would say that taking pictures is the hardest thing!

Day 1: Grey blazer and dress with a RTW shirt.
Day 2: A sneak peek of this months Minerva Crafts project, yet to be blogged, worn with a RTW cardi.
Day 3: Unblogged floral lady skater and RTW cardi.
Day 4: Cherry Blossom Chardon and RTW top that I need to copy because this one has been worn so much it's falling to bits.
Day 5: Grey dress, green cardi and RTW scarf.
Day 6: A finished on that very morning Victoria blazer and Holly trousers. The trousers are a future Minerva Crafts project and I managed to squeeze the blazer from the scraps because I was determined to wear these trousers to school!
Day 7: Floral top refashion which is one of my oldest makes still being worn, grey skirt and green cardi
Day 8: Today was a non-uniform day so I went for floral dungarees and the navy lace bomber jacket.
Thanks for reading and to Beth for being a saint for taking photos every day!
Lauren xx

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Elmer Crop Top

The idea for this top was sparked by a conversation I was having with a friend discussing what our imaginary animal friends would be like. (Mine would be a moose called Gary.) My friend plumped for an elephant named Elmer, which brought back childhood memories of everyone's favourite multi-coloured elephant. The message that Elmer gives is that it's okay to be different which I agree with wholeheartedly. 
My friend mentioned that he had an Elmer shirt, which I was very excited about, then disappointed about when it turned out to be just multi-coloured checks. I decided that I could do better than that and this top was born.
I first cut out a crop top using my bodice block, which doesn't have any side darts. The fabric used was a white linen, which I believe was an old tablecloth. I then printed and cut out a stencil of Elmer, and drew around it using a black fabric marker. I cut the ear on a hinge so I could trace around that too.
I then divided Elmer up into little squares and rectangles so I knew where each block of colour would go.
Looking at a reference picture, I filled him in and ta-da! Then it was time to put the crop top together. I sewed everything with a 1.5cm seam allowance which ended up being too tight, so I had to unpick the side seams and sew them again with a much smaller seam allowance. I'll have to make adjustments to my bodice sloper. The neckline and armholes would also have been better with a 1cm seam allowance.
I decided to line the top in a cotton gauze so edges were really neatly enclosed. I'm really proud of the insides of this top! For the hem, I did a hem facing which was sewn right sides together, understitched and then turned and slipstitched on the inside. It really helps the top to sit nicely. 
It is very white, perhaps too white, as it blends pretty well with my skin! Perhaps I should do some kind of border along the neckline and armholes with the black marker so people know where the top ends and my skin starts...
The back is plain. This is very much a 'party in the front' kind of top. The skort is from a vintage charity shops and I love the colours in it, but I've never really had anything to wear it with. This outfit though, is perfect.
I am very chuffed with it and very proudly wore it to school the day after I finished it. It's been in the wash, and it held up just fine. It was very fun to do some fabric 'painting' for a change. I'd like to do a lot more when exams are finished.
Thanks very much for reading, to Paul for sparking off the idea in my head and to Edward for taking photos!
Lauren xx

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Mummy Boy


For my last year of school I take 3 subjects for A Level: Textiles, Drama and Sociology. In Drama we had to come up with a devised piece, made up entirely by ourselves which is then performed. The rest of my class was marked for their performance, but I of course chose to make the costumes instead. Our group decided to use Tim Burton's 'Mummy Boy' poem as a basis for our devised piece. The actors needed a Mummy Boy costume each as they were multi-roleing, a virgin sacrifice costume, something fit for a mexican, beetle costumes and a mummy dog. 

 I made the 2 Mummy Boy costumes and the Virgin Sacrifice costume which I'll talk about in a later blog post. The key factor in Mummy Boy’s costume was that it needed to be removed easily, as the actor sheds the costume to become a beetle. Both actors needed a Mummy Boy costume as they multi-role as Mummy Boy throughout the play. With this in mind, I ordered 2 all in one non-woven suits that zipped up the front which could be covered in bandages. These could be easily taken off by the actors.  For the bandages, I did some researching on breaking down costumes to make them look old and worn and the answer seemed to be tea. So I dug around in the linen closet for some old white sheets and dunked them in boiling water (in a bucket) with about a dozen tea bags for a couple of hours. 
My tea-stained sheets worked out pretty well, but they didn't look disgusting enough for a mummy. Remember, mummy's have to wear their bandages for thousands of years, so they must get pretty mucky. The solution to this was to paint random brown streaks all over the sheets, to liven them up a bit. I had to do quite a few sets of sheets, and it was definitely easier to paint them whole, and then rip them up into bandages.
Then, the bandage ripping commenced. I started ripping quite narrow stripes, then realised that the narrower the strips were, the more I was going to have to sew on, so I made the bandages quite a bit wider after that. After all of the bandages were ripped, it was time to sew them onto the overalls. This meant a lot, and I mean a lot of hand sewing. 
Ta-da, the suit was pretty much entirely covered in bandages! Of course, I had to try it on to see how flexible it was. I found that wrapping the strips, then sewing them on made the suit tighter so for the second Mummy Boy suit I sewed each strip at a time. This took much longer, but did the job properly. After this one was finished, I had to start all over again for the second one!
 
The zip on the second Mummy Boy costume broke and was replaced with adhesive Velcro. This was also done with the first suit as the actor found it was easier to get on and off. However, the sound of Velcro ripping is clearly heard when changing costumes. There was an incident in rehearsal which resulted in all of the Velcro ripping off the suit so both sides of the Velcro were better secured to ensure that it did not happen again. My machine did not like sewing on the stick on velcro atall. The needle and underplate got all gummed up and disgusting and I had to scrape all the sticky residue off. Never again. Next time I will just buy sew-in velcro. 
I kept finding gaps to fill in rehearsals, and crotches kept ripping, so I was sewing bandages on pretty much up to the day of the performance. The overalls were only a couple of pounds so the quality was rubbish and they ripped really easily. Next time I'd do for something something more stable. Another way to do things would be to sew a huge sheet of bandages to make bandage fabric, and then cut overall pieces out of that and sew them together, but I think it might have lost the 3-D effect.
To secure the bandages I did a prick stitch on the right side and a long running stitch on the wrong side. The issue was that the long running stitch caught easily when the actors put the costume on, so the stitches ripped easily. If I made the running stitches shorter on the wrong side it would just be too time consuming. When the strips had been handsewn to the overalls, I sewed the bandages down in key areas by machine in a matching thread, that shouldn’t be visible to the audience to make the bandages as secure as possible. The overalls were very tricky to manoeuvre around the sewing machine.
Mummy dog was just a puppet wrapped in bandages. For our set, we covered everything in bandages, including the audience. 
I'm really proud of my Mummy Boy costumes, because they took a lot of time, effort and perserverance to make. And on the plus side at least I have something to wear for halloween next year!
Thank you to Emma and Katherine for wearing my costumes so well, and to Emma and Katie for taking pictures during the performance. I hope you enjoyed reading about something a little different than my usual floral dresses!
Lauren xx