Thursday, 30 June 2016

A little bit of selfless sewing

So usually I am a selfish sewist and do not sew things for other people. However my father turned 75 a couple of weeks ago (happy birthday daddy) and I decided that I wanted to make something for him to mark the occasion.

I'd spotted this quilt tutorial on Purl Soho and thought that it was so pretty and hopefully wouldn't take too long to make. In the interests of full disclosure I did not use lots of Liberty fabrics-the blue one is a length of Liberty fabric that I bought especially for this quilt but the others are scraps I had left over from dressmaking projects. I feel that this embraces the ethos of quilt making a bit better than buying lots especially for a quilt.  In particular, I was able to use scraps of the parrot fabric from my Flora dress in the 'best fabric ever', that had been a present from my Dad.  I thought this was a nice touch for a gift.

I made my quilt bigger than the original pattern as, although I didn't want this to be a full size quilt, I did want it to be large enough to act as a throw on a three seater sofa, as this is what my Dad has in his living room.  I bought the fabric for the top and bottom at Simply Fabrics in Brixton.  It's a fairly hefty cotton which I bought because it was exactly the oatmeal colour I wanted, however it did have a bit of stretch to it which was not ideal.  I bought this gorgeous wadding from plush addict, it's an iron-on wadding which I had never seen before and thought was really clever. It's nice to have that extra security as you stitch together all the layers.  The bias binding I made from some African print cotton in my stash.

This was the first ever quilt I have ever finished, although I've started several (you should hear my sister on the subject, she's still waiting for one I promised her for her birthday 3 years ago!)  This quilt is obviously not a traditional pieced quilt  and there is a lot of hand stitching involved which I actually quite enjoyed, even though I really dislike hand stitching my dress making projects.  Even with all the hand sewing, it's still a relatively quick make. I started it towards the end of April and it was finished at the beginning of June. I'd say just over a month to complete a quilt is pretty good going, especially as I had a bunch of other projects on the go at the same time.

The Purl Soho instructions are great and I learnt some new tips which I would never have thought of.  For example they have you sew the circles, right sides together with interfacing, essentially creating a bag with the interfacing and then turning them out before appliqueing to the quilt top.  It gave a really clean edge to the circles which I know I wouldn't have got had I just tried to turn the edges under before appliqueing.  They also direct you to tutorials for binding the quilt, which I found really helpful, since never having actually completed a quilt before, I hadn't done this step before.  Actually it was simpler than I expected.  The binding looks neat and 3 of the corners are pretty perfect, with just one being slightly wonky.

A final shot of the quilt in its new home.  The patchwork cushion was another present that I made for my Dad on a previous birthday.

I really like this quilt and now I want one for myself. I feel like it has a great impact while not involving as much work as other quilts.  It may be time to get stitching again!  Does anyone have any recommendations of any other speedy quilts?

Saturday, 25 June 2016

Getting trendy

The final challenge on the monthly stitch indie pattern month is a RTW copycat challenge. While I don't really follow fashion, I am as influenced as anyone else by what's around me and there are certain trends that I can really get on board with.  The high waisted look is one I like and feel is flattering so as my inspiration outfit I chose this one from Elle magazine, from an article on how to style high waisted shorts this summer.  Really I was just drawn to the colour combos and floral pattern!

While I loved the combination I was unsure about whether I'd get much wear out of a pair of high waisted shorts. I don't really wear shorts all that much (particularly when our summer is being quite so pathetic). However I thought a high waisted mini skirt would create the look well and it gave me an excuse to buy a pattern I'd been lusting after for ages; the Tilly and the buttons Arielle skirt.

I made up the skirt in a stretch cotton I'd bought on Goldhawk Road. Those of you who stop by here regularly (and have good memories) will notice that it's the same one I used to make up my maxi skirt a few weeks ago.

The buttons are some lovely clear ones that I bought on my recent trip to Amsterdam.  The busy fabric means that the button detailing gets a little bit lost but I didn't want to make the skirt too overpowering by adding some statement buttons.

The top is my Flora hack from last week's challenge, while it's clearly not identical to the inspiration top, I felt it conveyed the cropped and very white, summer top, that seems to be everywhere this year.

You may have noticed that it is quite clearly not me in these photos. Somewhere along the path of making my carefully considered RTW copycat, my sister came to visit and suddenly this outfit became her outfit! I don't really know how this happened or how I ended up altering the skirt at 10pm one Sunday night so that she could wear it to work the next day. I never really understand how these kind of things happen in our relationship but somehow they just do!

Anyway, I probably didn't need two skirts in the same fabric in my wardrobe and it's nice seeing her get pleasure out of something I've made.  She stuck to her end of the bargain; of acting as my model for these photos and its nice to have photos of someone who is a lot better at modelling than I am and also has the useful knack of not shutting her eyes in 2/3 photos which is what I do! We took these on a recent trip to Bristol and managed to take these photos in between rain showers and visiting every charity shop in Bristol!  Sadly as the British summer time is not coming up to scratch at all, my sister had to model the outfit with tights (and really hideous shoes), so it's not quite the super summery outfit I had planned.

I now need to get planning my own Arielle!  Why should my sister be the only one with a great skirt?

Monday, 20 June 2016

Flora hack top

This top is one I've been meaning to make for a while. Probably since I saw the hack post on the BHL blog.  I've just checked and the date of this post is May 2014, that's a long time to think on a top! 

Anyway, having finally got myself organised to make this top, I pretty much followed the instructions on the blog.  As the instructions are nice and clear and illustrated with photographs, there's not a huge amount to say about the method. 

I made a couple of changes, firstly, I added 5cm in length to the bodice. I knew I needed to do this from a previous attempt of the wrap dress. I have a long torso so this is a standard alteration for me however, this is still a very short top, definitely crop top length.  This was what I wanted, to go with high waisted skirts/trousers, however just be warned if you want a slightly longer wrap top.    

I used a Swiss dot cotton that I picked up on Goldhawk Road. It's really fine so I would have had to line it whatever I used it for, so this Flora top was perfect as the instructions have you line the Flora bodice.  Instead of using ribbons as instructed by the tutorial, I made a couple of ties out of the fabric.  These were pretty easy to create and I think work better than a ribbon would have done with this particular top, although next time I might use a fancy ribbon as I love the version that the BHL girls made.   I made each of the ties about 80cm each which means I can tie them at the side or behind. 

While I love the idea of this as a wrap top, I think I'm actually going to stitch it shut as having worn it all day, I did spend a fair amount of time flashing my bra and was glad that I had opted to wear a scarf most of the day.  The scarf is a hand painted silk one that was a birthday gift from a friend of my dad's.  She even personalised it and there is a '30' hidden in the swirls on the scarf!  Thanks Laura.

This is my entry for Indie sewing month's 'hack it' competition.  You should head over and check out all the other awesome things that people have hacked.

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Birthday dress

So Monday was my 30th birthday! Everyone knows a birthday needs a new dress and since I had recently just bought this amazing pencil print cotton poplin from Libertys, I decided to go down the really grown up route and make a dress with little pencils on it to enter my fourth decade in! 

In what is now becoming a bit of a birthday tradition, I used the Deer and Doe Belladone for my birthday dress. Last years dress can be seen here

Aside from lengthening the bodice, which is a standard alteration for me, although I could have done with adding another cm or 2, I didn't make any changes to the pattern. I used a pink cotton from my stash for the binding. This cotton has been exclusively used for binding Belladones, since I also used it for last years version too.  I also used it to create some piping which I sewed either side of the waistband and I like the definition that this gives to the waistband.

There's not a lot else to say about this dress apart from it being awesome and I could develop a serious Liberty fabric habit based on these last 2 makes!  Again, I wore this make on my lovely birthday trip to Amsterdam and I felt really great floating around Amsterdam in this dress.

I loved Amsterdam and really recommend it as a destination for anyone who hasn't been.  It's just so pretty and also everyone seems so chilled out ( and not just because of the cannabis!)  There are lots of lovely museums, markets and canals and we had a lovely few days just wandering the streets.

As an added bonus there are several fabric shops and a fabric market in Amsterdam.  The market is on a Monday morning-what better way for a sewist to spend their birthday?  I properly blew any chance of stashbusting at this market.

So far my 30s have been filled with holidays, family, friends and fabric, it really has not been too bad. If the next decade pans out this well, I'll be very happy! 

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Liberty peplum top

It's indie pattern month over on the monthly stitch. Are you watching all the awesome stuff people are making for the challenges?  I have a couple of versions of the Deer and Doe Belladones that I've made to enter for the one pattern, two ways challenge. Today I'm going to show you version number one. 

I had a metre of this gorgeous Liberty tana lawn that I wanted to make a peplum top from but I didn't have a pattern. In my pondering, I kept retuning to the shape of my belladone bodice and thought I would give hacking a go. 

My Belladone pattern is an old one so doesn't have the closed back version that the updated versions do, however there is a tutorial about how to create it for yourself here on the deer and doe blog, which I followed to create my back piece. I also lengthened the back and front pieces so as to leave out the waistband piece. I didn't sew up the darts in the back bodice piece so as to leave more room. There is a little too much excess in the back so I should probably have just reduced the darts slightly but this does make it lovely and loose and cool in hot weather.  

I extended the back pieces to create a pleat in the back but by mistake I cut out 2 back skirt pieces as with the normal pattern pieces, if I'd been thinking properly I would have cut out one back skirt piece on the fold, eliminating the extra seam allowance. I extended the front skirt piece to eliminate the pockets and also leave room for another couple of little pleats to add some oomph to the peplum.  This can be seen with the wind catching it in the photo below.

Tana lawn sews like a dream and I decided to make a special effort and French seam all of the seams so it looks lovely inside. I even French seamed the zip seam which went better than I expected. 

These photos were taken in Amsterdam. My wonderful sister surprised me with an unexpected birthday trip there for the weekend. We had an amazing time, with glorious weather and silliness.  

Everyone always mentions how awesome tana lawn is and how great it feels to wear, let me just add my voice to this and say that it was incredible to wear in the heat. I love this top, it feels pretty and flattering. Peplums are great.  I even made a little matching bracelet to go with it. 

Thanks for an amazing trip Nini and for taking all my photos!  I'll be back later in the week with my birthday dress; Belladone mark 2! 

Thursday, 2 June 2016

Me-made-may Day 23-31

Wow! May is a wrap, how did that happen?  This month has had crazy weather variation, we started with some lovely sun and as I write this, I feel like that was the beginning of summer and we have now jumped straight to autumn already :(  Please come back summer.  Anyway, on to my final round up.

Day 24: new maxi skirt!  I had a coat on over this and almost froze while taking this photo.

Day 25: It was so cold this day that I wore my refashioned jumper skirt and blingy refashioned jumper. Being dressed neck to knee in jumpers still didn't protect me from the cold and I managed to forget a photo! 

Day 26: I wore a feather plantain t-shirt for a slobby uni day. You're getting my attempt at a selfie here, clearly my modelling/photography career is a way off

Day 27: I was going on a night out with some friends in this day so made a little bit of an effort and wore my shirt dress with some sandals. Apparently I should make even a little effort on more days as I got so many compliments on my outfit. 

Day 29: being the little mermaid at the V&A in my Jade skirt and vintage tie top. For anyone in the London area, I really recommend the 'Undressed' exhibition.

Day 30:  a bonus bank holiday day, which was much colder than we would have liked for the BBQ I was attending! I wore my Renfrew/lady skater mash up dress. 

Day 31: for the final day I wore my floral pencil skirt and Mathilde blouse.  I love this outfit but the skirt is such a terrible fit that I really need to try and find another pencil skirt pattern to attempt a different one.

This May has been the third where I've participated in me-made-May, this year was by far the easiest.  Clearly my handmade items are fitting better into my wardrobe (also I now have enough of them for colleagues/friends not to think I own no clothes).  Thanks so much Zoe for hosting again this year, I find this challenge so useful in helping me to examine my wardrobe and what it is that I want to wear.   However, interestingly this year is also the first that I haven't come out of May with a list of things to sew bigger than I started with which is refreshing.  I guess I've arrived at some kind of homoeostasis.   

Anyway, on to June which is definitely my favourite month, as its my birthday!  Here's to birthday month!