Saturday, 21 May 2016

Chambray off the shoulder jumpsuit

Hello all! My latest Minerva Make is a bit of  a departure from my usual style, but I'm in love. This thing fought me every step of the way, but I got there and subsequently never want to take it off.
You can read all about the making process on the Minerva blog.
Lauren xx

Saturday, 14 May 2016

Pink Inari Tee Dress

Hello all! I finally have a new make to show you. I was intrigued by how good everyone's Named Inari tee dresses looked so I thought I'd try a new silhouette out. And I really really like it.

The fabric made this simple dress a lot more of a 'mare than it should have been. I found this viscose remnant on ebay and the colours and print are stunning but it's shifty as heck and frays every time you look at it.
 I added a CB seam to get it out of 1.1m of fabric. Even though I understitched the facing it kept flipping up so I stitched it down in my break.
I have come to the conclusion that without an overlocker, seam allowances need to be 1.5cm or more. There isn't a lot you can do to finish a 1cm seam allowance if you don't hong kong it. I pinked these seam allowances, but I'm not sure how well they are going to hold up!
This is very much a dress that needs wearing with shorts underneath.
It's super super comfy. One of those dresses you don't notice you're wearing. In this dress I went to uni for the day, out for dinner in London, a walk outside Buckingham Palace, a cocktail at the pub and quite a bit of dancing. There's been a little wear and tear on one of the splits but that can easily be patched up.
In other news, I got my braces off on Thursday! Arghh looking at these pics makes me so happy!

Thanks for reading and to MK for taking photos!
Lauren xx

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Aggy Gnome - The Musical

Hello all!
I took a bit of a leap into the unknown by writing, composing and staging a musical for my friend Millie's 19th birthday over the Easter holidays. Aggy Gnome was the tale of a girl that magic was not kind to. She gets turned into an aggy gnome by a jealous witch, and then into an aggy dragon by a wizard who's not entirely sure what he's doing. (aggy is a shortcut for aggravated) It was great fun to write. I've never written original songs before so that was a pretty big learning curve, but it was pretty cool to hear them sung on stage/in our kitchen. We also had some classic songs including 'Somebody to Love', Wicked's 'Defying Gravity' with the title words exchanged for 'being a lesbian' and 'At Last' by Etta James.

Aggy Gnome was set in a fairytale universe, so it needed appropriate props and costumes. I managed to adapt lots of existing pieces in my collection, spending only £4.50 on some hessian sacking for the cretin costume, custard creams and for masks and leaves for the dragon masks. This dress and this top made an appearance.
Props-wise I made 2 dragon masks with masks, leaves and pva glue. My friend MK stuck some cotton balls onto the lower half of a mask for the gnome mask. I made a sword from my strongbow cider box and wrapped that in tin foil. The crown was cut out of a rice crispie box and left as is as I was pretty much done at that point. Below is Lydia wearing her dragon wings and mask. I could have done a lot better with the wings but I didn't have enough fabric so had to make do.
 I also made a tree from a big cardboard box, green card, masking tape and brown paint. This tree caused a lot of trouble. It was being stored in the kitchen and was mistaken by rubbish by the cleaner so I had to go on a tree rescue mission. It was eventually recovered (my first bin diving experience). There was also a wasp nest made from brown paper wrapped around a big water bottle. The 'tree' was no where near as stable as it needed to be and collapsed halfway through the show to general hilarity.

Costume-wise I made a shirt for myself as the Prince, a sack dress for the cretin and some dragon wings for the aggy dragon. For the shirt I wanted something massive and pouffy. I used the Grainline Archer pattern as a base, with major adaptations. The leather jacket soon got abandoned because it was far too hot.

 It was made from an old white sheet. I decided that I wanted a front and back yoke, with a gathered front and back attached with massive gathered pouffy sleeves with a ruffle-y cuff. I also wanted a neckline ruffle.

First, I decided to discard the front Archer piece and work only from the back. I cut 2 yokes -
1 for the front of the shirt and 1 for the back. I then cut 2 back pieces on the fold, placing the side seams as close to the selvedge as I could so it could be gathered into the yoke. I split the sleeve into 3 lengthways and spread it out for a puffed sleeve. I also made it 10cm longer so I could turn it back on itself, and insert some elastic to make an easy gathered cuff.

When that was all put together I gathered up a long rectangle folded in half so the outside edge would be clean and gathered that into a V neckline on the skirt. It was sewn wrong side to wrong side, then trimmed, turned over to the right side and topstitched. My gathers didn't work very well and they aren't very even. 2 layers of the sheet fabric was very bulky.
As a performer I loved this shirt. It really helped me get into character and it's so incredibly comfy!
So yeah, that's what I got up to over Easter!
Thanks for reading,
Lauren xx

Monday, 11 April 2016

Floral Zeena Dress

Hello all! This is my latest Minerva make, a floral Zeena dress. I wanted a new dress for spring and I love the colours of this viscose print. I worry that simple silhouettes can be boring, but they can never be boring in a print like this.
You can read the rest of the post over at Minerva Crafts.
Lauren xx

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Floral Pinafore Dress

Hello all! Today I have a new dress to show you. This dress was inspired by a picture of 1940s overalls. Unlike our dungarees today, the top half was fitted as opposed to a rectangle. I much prefer this look so this was how this dress came about.
I used my bodice block with the neckline squared off, paired with an A-line skirt. I could have probably lowered the neckline more, but I wanted to be able to wear it without a top underneath. The straps are just rectangles.
The fabric is a floral needlecord that I picked up when staying with Grandpa in Winchester before Christmas. It was really straight forward to work with as long as I made sure to cut all the pieces facing the same way. I still have 1/2 metre left from the 2 metres that I bought which I'll make into a button down skirt at some point.
Raw edges were overlocked and the neckline and hem both have a facing. I purposefully made sure that the wrong side of the fabric was visible for the hem facing so the skirt would move freely without the needlecord creating friction. I used an invisible zip for the CB.
I'm really happy with how this dress turned out, and it has gotten a lot of wear over the last couple of months.
Thanks for reading and to Ed for taking the pictures while I've been home this weekend,
Lauren xx

Monday, 7 March 2016

Blue Floral Trousers

Hello all! Today I've got a super quick and easy make to share with you. I got this beautiful blue floral jacquard type fabric for my birthday and was completely stumped by it. You see, it has a 1 way stretch, but not in the way that you'd expect! It doesn't stretch across the width of the fabric, oh no. It stretches down the length of the fabric, which is totally bizarre. 
 The weird direction of stretch had me stumped for a while. I didn't know what would benefit from that stretch going down the length of the fabric. In the end, I decided to stick to what I know of stretch and just cut everything on the cross-grain, so the stretch was going across like it normally is.
 The only decision left was what to make from this beautiful fabric. Trousers seemed perfect. I haven't owned a pair of floral trousers in a while, and I thought they would look pretty cool. Instead of using the Ginger Jeans pattern (which would have been the most logical starting point) I decided to use my 'boyfriend jeans' as a base.
 To use my jeans as a base I put one leg inside the other and pinned it to my fabric. I then cut straight around it without seam allowances because I was hoping the stretch in the fabric would balance it out. I then did the same for the back pieces. However the back pieces were wider than the front pieces so I couldn't get them to lay flat. To sort this out I measured how much the back piece overlapped onto the other side and just added that on as I cut.
The fabric had 2 sides, one with a darker floral pattern and a lighter background and one with a lighter floral pattern on a darker background. I preferred the lighter floral pattern on a darker background so I went with that as my right side.
 I was expecting to have to put in a zip but it turned out that my fabric was stretchy enough to not need any. So, I guess that actually makes these leggings? To keep them up I stretched and sewed clear elastic around the waist, then turned it under.
 It was really a guessing game how this experiment would work out. These trousers turned out to be quite fitted, which would have been a nightmare if the fabric didn't have as much stretch as this one does. These trousers are so comfortable. Look, I can do lunges in them and everything!
 They ended up being quite high rise, which is good because I'm planning to make a crop top for a 2 piece setacular for all of these parties that keep cropping up. Ahhh, uni life,
 It makes me very happy how well they go with this hat.
 I'm so happy that this experiment worked out well. I wore them to the Vaults at Waterloo on Saturday to see an Actor Musician production called Thisbe which was fantastic, and I felt super cool.
 Thank you very much for reading, to my Dad for picking out this fabric for me and to Mary-Kate for braving the cold for pictures. I'm much obliged.
Lauren xx

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Finding my style.

As a maker, I have a fantastic amount of freedom with what I wear. Sometimes all of the choice can be overwhelming. I want my style to be classic, comfortable, colourful, practical and unique without it being boring. Lately I've been finding that balance quite hard to achieve.
I have found myself thinking about how I would like to come across to other people. Do I need to present myself as a character to society? I would like to come across as capable and fun. Is that overthinking things? I'm not a character in a film, so shouldn't I just dress to have fun? There is a certain pleasure to be had with the unexpected.
I read Seamstress Erin's review of a book called 'Women in Clothes' in which the authors Sheila Heti, Heidi Julavits and Leanne Shapton surveyed over 600 women, asking them a number of questions about the clothing they wear, and I immediately ordered the book for myself. It's a really really interesting read, and slightly shocking how some women feel they ought to dress in order to not attract male attention.
I've had some really interesting conversations based on these questions with my friends and I thought it would be a good idea to try some of the questions for myself here on the blog. (You can find a ton of the questions over here)

When do you feel most attractive?

When I'm wearing something that I've made that fits well, is 100% me and is something I'm really proud of.

Are there any clothing items that you have in multiple?

As a maker I can use the same pattern over and over again to get a slightly different result every time with different fabric choices and finishes. But I do not have any identical clothing items,

What's your process getting dressed in the morning?

I decide whether I'm wearing a dress, skirt or trousers. That then informs a top if wearing a skirt or trousers. The colours involved then inform the colour of tights, boots and coat that I wear.

What are some dressing rules that you follow?

Most of my dressing rules are about colours. I won't wear yellow or orange at all because of my skintone. Navy is never worn with black and red is never worn with purple. I love blues and purples together. I won't wear any animal prints or fur (faux or not).

Do you think you have taste or style? What do these words mean to you?
I think I have a certain style that is probably not the norm for most 19 year old girls. I am quite okay with that. I think taste is very subjective.

Are you photogenic?

Nope. You would have thought 3 years of near weekly blogging would help, but nope! I think I'm better in action. I think my personality is hard to convey in a photo.

What are some things you admire about how other women present themselves?

I always admire when women present themselves with confidence. Women that are not afraid to wear what they love because they love it and it makes them happy to wear it.

Are there any figures from culture, past or present, whose style you admire or have drawn from?

I guess you could say that I'm quite inspired by the 50s silhouette but I'm not inspired by one particular person. I actually really love the white Edwardian blouses. I need to find some white muslin to make a contemporary one of my own.

How do you shop for clothes?

I don't. I shop for fabric. It's usually best to go with a list of what I want to make in the near future, otherwise I will want to buy everything.

Do you have any shopping rules?

I've got to really love that fabric. If I buy something that I don't love, then in all probability I won't like the garment that gets made out of it.

What is your favourite piece of clothing or jewelry?

I don't wear jewelry at all really. I managed to narrow it down to 4 favourite items of clothing. I really love each of these outfits and feel great every time I wear them.

What's the first investment item you've bought?

Liberty fabric! It's still yet to be made into a dress. I'm saving it for summer. 

Do you care about lingerie?

Yes, but my current underwear drawer doesn't reflect that. I do know exactly how I would like it to look though. I just need to find a pot of gold and the materials to sort it out.

How does how you dress play into your ambitions for yourself?

This one is interesting because costume makers don't have a specific uniform. However whatever I'm wearing needs to be comfortable so I can 100% concentrate on what I'm working on and not what I'm wearing.

What is your cultural background and how has that influenced how you dress?

I grew up in a middle class family in the English countryside. I guess I dress fairly conservatively, but that's probably because it doesn't get hot enough to do otherwise! 

Can you say a bit about how your mother's body and style have been passed down to you, or not?

I actually have my Grandma's figure (on my fathers side) but I would say that my Mum and I have a fairly similar style which flowers differently because of our ages. We're often drawn to similar colours and fabrics.

Can you recall times when you have dressed a particular way to calm or gain a sense of control in the situation?

I always feel more confident wearing clothes that I made that fit well. I wore me-made clothes to all of my uni interviews.

How does make up fit into this?

I think it's very important to be able to leave the house without any on. It's not something I want to become dependent on. I do use it every so often when dressing up for parties.

What's with your hair?

I love my hair. I love doing all sorts of fancy hairstyles with it. I would say that would be where my make up time goes in the morning. Although, I've made the decision to cut it into a bob this month. Watch this space!

Please describe your figure?

I am pretty much straight up and down. On most size charts my bust and hips are too small to be on there and my waist is 1 or 2 sizes in. I have a long waist and rounded shoulders. I love to slouch. 

Is there any article of clothing, make up or accessory you carry with you every day?

Nope. I like to mix it up.

Do you have style in any areas of your life aside from fashion?

I like my food incredibly simple, with white sauce or no sauce.

What would be a difficult look for you to try to achieve?

Leather and studs. Definitely not me.

Where were you born and where do you live now?

I was born in Lincolnshire and now I live in London/ Kent.

Are you single, married?


And that's it!
I hope that was even vaguely interesting. I haven't really done a lot of living yet, so I struggled to answer in great detail. I would love to know if you sat down and answered any of the questions for yourself.
Thanks for reading!
Lauren xx