Monday, 13 October 2014

Flora in the best fabric ever!!!

So that's quite a statement title I've got there but I don't think it's too hard to live up to, I mean, just look at this dress! (However I reserve the right to say this about plenty of other fabrics in the future).

Parrots and ferns!  Awesome!

The fabric was this one from Fabric godmother and is hands down the most expensive fabric I've ever purchased but it was thanks to a birthday voucher from my Father so I didn't feel too bad.  I wanted therefore to make up a dress I had made before and knew that I liked and that fitted well so another Flora dress it was.

I made this dress up exactly as before as the first one fit perfectly.  It's fully lined in a cotton lawn and as the main fabric is quite thick, the whole dress feels quite heavy (I may only have noticed this as I was having to be strict about weight when packing for holiday). I wore this dress loads when I was on holiday and it was really comfy and made me feel great.  However now I'm back in the UK I feel far too cold to wear it which is why you're getting pictures of Rosie modelling it.

I never normally take pictures of the inside of my clothes as a tend to just finish seams by pinking them which isn't the prettiest of finishes. However as this one is fully lined its, really pretty on the inside and it occurred to me that if I'd fitted a double sided zip, it would be reversible.

Maybe I should make more effort with the insides of my clothes.

A final one in the sun, it seems so long ago already!

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Belladone at Blenheim

Hello lovely people

I've been a bit absent for a while, this is partly due to a camera failure so I had a lack of pictures and partly due to me starting a doctorate course last week and being the most tired I have ever been in my life!  However, I'm back and I have a bunch of stuff to show you, starting with a Belladone dress.

I've had the Deer and Doe Belladone pattern in my stash for a while, I had a really clear vision of a dress I wanted to make with it.  However, I didn't get the fabric for it at the same time and am now on a self imposed fabric buying ban so I reached for my stash.   I got 6 metres of this navy and blue stripey fabric, which I think is a linen blend, at a junk shop in Hampstead.  They sold it to me for £5! I was so happy with this find that I made my boyfriend take this picture:

I made up the dress with no alterations, grading from a size 10 on top to a 12 on the hips.


 I made no effort to pattern match on this so am really happy with the great chevrons that are going on here.

Ironically I made an effort to pattern match the waistband and its irritatingly just a little off!  The zip does not end wonky, its just the shadow of Rosie's alteration points.

I really like the Deer and Doe patterns, they're printed on nice sturdy paper which makes them good to trace off, they come in a pretty envelope and the instructions are great.  I didn't make any adjustments and am happy with the dress but I have some adjustments I will make for the next one.  There is too much fabric at the top of the back which needs to be removed next time.  I also need to lengthen the bodice and maybe grade up a size over the ribs.  All totally doable and I am sure I will do them for another version as I love this dress.

All of the outdoor photos were taken during a lovely day at Blenheim Palace (birth place of Winston Churchill) and I decided to get a bit snap happy so if you're here for the sewing and have no interest in seeing pictures of my weekend adventures, tune out now. 

To be perfectly honest I was a bit disappointed by the house as you get to see very little of it and the rooms that you do get to see are not particularly interesting, however the grounds were beautiful and we got really lucky with the weather.

 Cliched autumn photo alert!

 There is an Ai Weiwei exhibition going on at Blenheim at the moment, with his sculptures dotted through the house and grounds which I thought was great.  We tried to get an arty reflection photo in one of the spheres: 

The reason for this weekend in the countryside was that my boyfriend was running a half marathon at Belnheim Palace.  He did really well and I thought I would add a picture of him at the end of the run:

He doesn't even look tired!

Picture with one of his very cold supporters.  I really did not want to be touching someone this sweaty but it's a nice picture.

Have a lovely weekend.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

One week, one pattern!

I was so excited to take part in this challenge.  My blog wasn't around and I was sadly unaware of the wonderful sewing blog world when this challenge was first created by Tilly.  This year it was being hosted by the fabulous Jane of Handmade Jane.  

So what's the deal?  "One Week, One Pattern! (or OWOP) is a group challenge where participants wear garments made from just one pattern of their choice, every day for a week."  

Once I had had a chance to think about it, you know and reign in all the myriad of makes that started floating round in my head, "no Alexa, you can't make 5 new Flora dresses in the time", I opted for my tried and trusted and much made lady skater pattern. 

This year the challenge was being held from the 6th-12th September. I was on holiday at the beginning of this week so the sunshine/heat levels are a bit different from the end of the week. 

Day 1
Lady skater peplum top, refashioned shorts, flip flops (gift) and 2 sunburnt patches on my ankles. 

Day 2 
This photo didn't come out first time round so I had to retake it at home.  My living room is not quite the same as a Maltese beach but at least you can see the outfit!

Sleeveless Lady skater maxi dress (unblogged as yet) and lace kimono (New Look).  I think this is my favourite outfit of the week.

Day 3
Lady skater refashioned jumper (unblogged as yet), skirt (me made), ballet pumps (Office).

Day 4
Lady skater peplum top, jeans (which I almost never wear, this is the only pair I own and they must be 8 years old!  I've been with my boyfriend for 9 months and this is the first time he's seen me in jeans!), scarf (Oliver Bonas, birthday gift) and ballet pumps (Office).

 Day 5

Lady skater refashioned jumper (to be blogged), skirt (thrifted), scarf (no idea), and ballet pumps (office). Outfit perfect for a chilly day on the southbank.

Day 6

Sleeveless maxi lady skater (unblogged as yet). This outfit was great for catching what feels like the last of the summer sun. 

Day 7
You've got my heart lady skater, navy cardigan (New Look), necklace (thrifted) and blue anchor shoes (thrifted). This dress has got to be one of the most worn in my wardrobe and sadly it's starting to show how much I love, wash and wear it.

I really enjoyed taking part in this challenge and to my surprise I found that I had had no problems wearing the same pattern for a whole week, I didn't even wear all my versions!  It also showed me how versatile this pattern is.  As I make more versions of this I feel more comfortable trying new things with it.  I've made a couple of hacks that I'm really pleased with and will blog about soon.  It was really helpful for wearing this everyday to have a mix of tops and dresses, I'm going to have a think about what other hacks I can do. 

Just for anyone who drops by regularly, there may be a bit of a pause in blogging now as I managed to break my camera (again!) while on holiday so taking photos of my makes will be a bit problematic unless I can convince someone to loan me one. 

Right I'm off to look at what everyone else has done for OWOP.

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Galaxy dress! No sew refashion.

I've had this blue linen dress in my wardrobe for a couple of years and it gets fairly regular wear through the summer as its light and airy and comfortable.

However a couple of weeks ago I came back from work and decided it was a good idea to start cleaning the bathroom while wearing it!  This was not my most intelligent moment!  This is what happened:


As this dress was still in good condition and I really liked it, I was determined to rescue it in some way.  I blame this refashion on a discussion about the Northern Lights with a couple of friends and a really bling-y episode of 'Don't tell the Bride' (trash TV viewing reveal!)  Galaxy dress refashion:

What did I do?
Since the dress had bleached so easily by accident I simply splattered it with ordinary household bleach, hung it up and waited for the bleach to do its thing and the colour disappeared and then bunged it in a bath full of water to get rid of the bleach.

In the interests of full disclosure I should say that the moment I choose to do the bleach spattering was about 5mins before my friend Grace came round for dinner. Just FYI if you ever get invited to mine for dinner it may involve helping out with a refashion/sewing/photography!

I think it looked pretty epic once it had been bleached and dried out. However, never satisfied with a simple life, I still had other plans for this dress. 

I wanted to try out some iron on diamantes which I had bought from here

My 'technique' with these was essentially; throw them at the dress and see where they land and then iron them on. Except for a few strategic places where I knew I wanted a bit of bling detail.

The diamantes cost me £1.49 plus £1.15 for delivery and the bleach I had in the house and since the process was started by accident I'm not going to count it as a cost but even if you included another pound for the bleach, this refashion cost me less than 4 quid.  Totally worth it to rescue my dress and give me a new sparkly, star spangled one.  However when I asked my boyfriend for his thoughts, he said "nice but I'm never really going to be a fan of sparkly bits on clothes", what?  Good job I'm not taking his refashioning advice!

 I love it!!!

 Just look at the space pattern, this makes me happy.

Although you'd never know it from the look on my face.  I'm not sure why I always look so grumpy in my blog selfies.

And some close ups to get a better view of the bling! 

You can just about see the flash glinting off the diamantes.   

Tips for bleaching dying clothes based on my limited experience:
Make sure your fabric is made of natural fibres, this will not work on synthetics. My dress was linen so the bleach worked like a dream but the thread used in the dress was clearly synthetic. Look:

Do it somewhere animal and child free. I have a lot of cats and foxes in my garden that I would really like to leave, however, bleach poisoning is not the way to do it. Despite my casual splattering approach, I did clear up afterwards, this stuff is really toxic so be careful. 

Do it somewhere that is other fabric free! This refashion was motivated by an accident with bleach but I doubt most people (me included, despite my love for this dress) want 'bleach spattered' as a look for their whole house. 

Go easy with the bleach, it takes a very little amount to remove the colour. In areas where I was more liberal with it, it took longer to work and meant that I had to leave the whole dress with the bleach on for longer. Bleach can damage the fibres of your dress so you want it on for as short a time as possible.

Notes on the diamantes:
There were 144 in the packet and I thought this would be LOADS but it really wasn't, the diamantes are much more sparse on the back of the dress than on the front as I started to run out.

The instructions said to press on diamantes with the iron on a low heat and covering them with a cloth, however, I found that they didn't attach at all when I used a press cloth so I dispensed with it and just left the iron directly on the diamantes/dress for 20ish seconds.  I could do this as my dress was made from natural fibres but its something to consider if you want to apply them to a synthetic.

After one wear some of the diamantes have started to shed, this is before it's even gone through a wash so I'm not sure how long the sparkly element to this dress will last.

So with a little bit of bling, I'm off on holiday for two weeks!  See you all in a fortnight for 'one week, one pattern'.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Refashioned holiday shorts

I don't remember where these trousers came from, or how they ended up in my refashion pile but I have some dim recollection that they were at one point part of a hideous 2 piece outfit that my mum donated to me.  As my recollection is so dim, when I say donated, I hope that's what actually happened rather than she just forgot them here at some point and they got sucked into the black hole that is my sewing space.  Either way she's not getting them back now.

Don't they look truly hideous on me?  If their purpose was to make my hips and backside look enormous and strangely flat/shapeless at the same time, they manage really well.  

They were even missing a button!  However there was potential there.  The waist fits really well and they aren't too tight on the thighs or hips (probably because there is so much extra shapeless fabric there).  This is unusual for me as I have a small waist in comparison to my hips, part of the reason why I almost never wear trousers.  I also liked the rust colour which I find strange as I'm not usually a fan of orange tones but this one seemed like it had potential to go with quite a lot of things in my wardrobe.  Also it is a linen, viscose, acetate blend which feels really floaty and lovely and screamed holiday wear to me. 

So, I hacked off a lot of leg!  

The weather has become unseasonably cold in London and so there was no way I was going to model these outside.  To be honest wearing them in the house was a bit of a struggle for someone who feels the cold as much as me.  You're all just going to have to imagine the sunshine and beautiful beach that I would like to be photographing this on.  It's not that hard, right?  I do have a palm tree!

As well as chopping off a lot of the leg, I added some details which I think make these shorts a little bit more special.  I created turn-ups and top stitched in a green thread.  I made some tabs and added a green star button from my stash.

Luckily the trousers had a spare button attached to the label so I was able to repair the waist closure without having to root around in the stash for ones that fitted the buttonholes.  I added some more green top stitching round the waist. 

I'm really pleased with my new shorts and I think they'll go really well with the tops I've got in my wardrobe.  Luckily I'm not going to have to imagine wearing them on the beach, as this time next week I'll be there-yay!!!  Finished just in time to go in the case!

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Lady skater peplum top

So I have already spoken about my love for my lady skater pattern, it was definitely my best pattern purchase ever and at the risk of boring you I have another version to show you.  This one however is a hack so hopefully holds some interest.

The hem is not as uneven as this photo makes it look, I just didn't arrange myself well enough for this photo.

It's been a while since I adjusted the pattern pieces for this but I think I just measured the 9" or so that Amanda recommends on her blog post and cut.  I made no alterations to the waist length or anything which was a bit of a gamble as usually I find peplums look really awful when the waist is too high but I guess since the bodice hits my waist at exactly the right place, the top has worked out ok.

A little bit about the fabric because making a plain white top is unlike me, although this is definitely a much needed item in my wardrobe.  I spotted this textured jersey in the offcut bin at Simply fabrics in Brixton.  Honestly, one day that shop is going to stop getting all my spare cash!  The raised chain like design woven through the fabric made it catch my eye and I knew I had to have it.  Hopefully you can see the cool texture in the above photos.  This is part of my drive to make some more solid staples, I need to focus on finding solid fabrics with interesting details so that they will fit into my wardrobe or convince myself that I can make patterns with clever details in a solid colour and the world will not fall apart!

I'm proud of myself and my first step towards neutrality, however those among you who need a bit of pattern in their lives, don't worry about me, I have several makes in the pipeline which have a lot of pattern going on!