Monday, 31 August 2015

My 'made up initiative' pledge

Hi all.  I hope you're all having a very lovely, if wet bank holiday weekend (that is if you're in the UK).  I have been having a lovely time in Newcastle, doing a bit of site seeing in Northumbria, visiting friends and alternately expressing my love for the north and whinging about how cold I am.  I also had my Made Up Initiative dress to model which my lovely friend Ziz agreed to take photos of.

When Karen launched the Made up initiaitve, my first thought was wow, what a great idea!  Yes I, like everyone else, am guilty of spending money thoughtlessly/selfishly on my hobby and I loved the idea of an initiative that promoted not one but two of my great loves.  The details of the initiative are on Karen's blog but basically it's an initiative to support the National Literacy Trust.  Now while I (obviously) love sewing, reading was my first love and hobby and has enabled every other life decision and path.  I was lucky to grow up in a house where reading was valued and promoted and I've never had to worry about my reading ability holding me back, despite having dyslexia, but this is not the case for everyone which is what the National literacy trust tries to combat.  I was happy to donate to the cause anyway but Karen had added an extra level of awesomeness for us sewists-if we made a sewing pledge with our donation and completed by the 10th September, we would be entered into a prize draw of awesomeness.  My pledge was to make a shirt dress, I had the perfect fabric and the desire for a shirt dress had been strong for a while.

I have had the Edith dress/blouse pattern for ages, in fact it was the first Indie pattern I ever made and while that blouse version still gets worn as I love the fabric, there were a lot of alterations I wanted to make for the next version.  I needed to do a SBA which is frustrating as the pattern is sold as separate B and C cup patterns. I bought a C as I have a 4cm difference between my upper and full bust however with this pattern, I didn't need the extra room. I have never had to do a SBA before so I guess at least it's a new technique added to my skill set. I did however need to do a broad back adjustment which is now becoming a fairly regular occurrence in my dressmaking.

The fabric was this really vibrant, crisp cotton that I had bought on one of my Paris trips, it's been in my stash for a while.  I've noticed a few people mentioning recently about how the coupons from Marche St. Pierre tend to be quite narrow fabric, which I had never noticed/had a problem with before but certainly this fabric was very narrow and I had to cut 2 separate back pieces and stitch them together rather than cutting on the fold.   

I really want this pattern to work for me as I love the style of the dress and there are so many lovely versions out there, Heather in particular has knocked up loads of beauties.  However, I still have a number of number of issues with the pattern and it's fit on me.  The Maria Denmark patterns do not have seam allowances included, I read somewhere that this makes them easier to adjust(?) but I find it really, really frustrating.  Also I find that the method of finishing the arm holes a bit shoddy but I had forgotten that irritation until it was too late to change it and use bias binding or something.  Note to self, read own notes on patterns before starting! I hadn't made the dress version before and was surprised to discover that I needed to remove a big chunk out of the back, particularly the lower back. Having cut two separate back pieces, turned out to be a happy accident as I was able to remove the excess from the back rather than trying to take it from the sides. Actually I think I still need to remove some excess all over, I don't know if I cut out a bigger size than last time but the whole dress feels very big.  

The eight buttons down the front are these lovely vintage ones I had in my stash, however, having worn the dress for a bit I feel like the buttons need to extend further down the front.  However I only have eight of these buttons so I think I may cut them off and replace them with some others.

I wore this dress to go out with Ziz for the best brunch ever (where the extra room in the dress was very useful) and for a walk in the park before the rain set in again and I made her take lots of pictures of me.

By the end of it I was laughing really hard and looked like this:

and Ziz looked like this!  She was full of yummy food and wanted to lie on a sofa rather than be a photographer!  Whereas my food coma didn't kick in until much later and I wanted to prance around in my new dress!

Hope you're all getting on well with your made up pledges, for anyone who hasn't yet donated, you can do so here.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

A super summery vintage shirt refashion

Hello everyone.  Have you guys been following the Refashioners series hosted by Portia.  If not, stop reading and get over there now as it's awesome!  I have been totally inspired by all these talented ladies and since I love a good refashion and it was one of my Goals for 2015 to do more, I jumped on board.

Like Marie, my refashion is also a refashion and vintage pledge mash-up.  I recently obtained this gorgeous 1976 halter dress pattern.

However, much as I desperately want a dress like this in my life, I don't currently have time to make it, nor does the Great British summer seem to want to commit to the kind of sun that I would need to wear it.  On the other hand I have been having slightly weird obsessive dreams about a stripey halter top, which my wardrobe has never needed before but apparently my subconscious is screaming 'you need this in you life now!'

When I discovered this lovely men's large stripey shirt in my stash, my subconscious could not be contained and so the current refashion was born.  I have no idea how this shirt made it into my stash, it was too trendy/unworn to have belonged to my Dad and too large to have belonged to my boyfriend but it didn't have a price tag on it which means it probably wasn't one of my charity shop finds-mystery!  Thanks to the unknown donor though, it was perfect for my needs, a gorgeous crisp cotton shirt is perfect for a woman's summer top!  Men beware, keep an eye on your wardrobes, we're coming for them!

I cut the bodice pieces of the dress out as usual, just extending the halter pieces by 4cm to accommodate for long torso. In hindsight I should also have lengthened the bodice pieces as the waist seam sits higher than I would like. It felt a little wrong cutting into this shirt which is not a feeling I've had before when refashioning but I guess this shirt felt like something special and I was temporarily ruining it.  I cut the midriff piece across the placket as I still wanted to retain some of the details of the original shirt and I thought it would be a nice feature for the middle of the top.  I was at this point that I discovered that even a men's large shirt does not have enough fabric for a fully lined halter top and had to head back into the stash.  Luckily I had some scraps of another shirt in there, which were left over from a shirt I had 'rescued' last time my boyfriend tried to give some clothes to the charity shop.  They were perfect for the lining pieces, even though my boyfriend is slim and his shirt really don't have the quantity of fabric that larger ones do.

For the bottom of the top I used the skirt pieces as  a guide but I  knew I didn't want a straight peplum top that doing this would have given me so I started to play around with the lengths of the different pieces I had left.  When trying on the top I thought the different lengths looked good and so I headed to the internet who confirmed for me that asymmetrical hems are a 'thing'! So it was time to start working out how to make this a design feature.  What do you think?  Can I pull it off as a design feature or does it just look like I was too lazy to hem it properly?

The pattern suggests using a hook and eye to close the halter but I created a couple of button holes and reused the buttons from the shirt. 

And ta da!  One (and a half) men's shirts into a vintage summery halter top.  Suitable for wearing in the glorious sunshine of the south of France which is where I've been on holiday for the last few days.  Although before you get too jealous, the last day was the only day warm and sunny enough for me to wear this top, we managed to get the only 2 days of rain that they've had in 3 months!  How about you, are you taking part in the refashioners?

Thursday, 13 August 2015

A really unseasonal Renfrew

This must be the third or fourth Renfrew that I've made and yet it's the only one that's made it to the blog, in it's own post at least.  However, I kind of wish I wasn't sharing this right now as it was a top I hoped I wouldn't need until Autumn, I know it's almost a national sport here in the UK to whinge about the weather but I'm so over our totally pathetic summer.  I want some sun dammit!  However, in the absence of knowledge on how to make the weather gods smile at me, I guess I'm going to stick with showing you my new long sleeved roll necked Renfrew.

I have very little to say about this that hasn't been said many times elsewhere so I'm just not going to bother.  I made most of it on my new shiny overlocker which was a birthday present from my mother (thanks mummy if you're reading, which actually I don't think she ever does but she is enabling my sewing so I shouldn't complain).  The only snag about having a lovely new (expensive) overlocker is that when I switched back to my sewing machine, I kinda wanted to cry.  It's so much less good, smooth and it's much louder.  However, it has served me faithfully for years and since I can't afford a new one, I should focus on how great it is to have a functioning machine at all and stop dreaming about trading her in for a better model!

Anyway, back to the top, this is actually the first time I've made the roll necked version of this top and I love it.  It's so snuggly and lovely and when I'm done been grumpy about having to wear it in August I'll be really thrilled to have it in my wardrobe.  The fabric is this gorgeous Japanese style blossom print jersey that I found in the remnant bin in Simply fabrics forever ago.  It had a great stripey border too which I really wanted to make more use of in the top but since it ran perpendicular to the stretch, the only bits I could squeeze out of it were the cuffs.  However, I love floral print it's so me and I've had loads of compliments on this top when I've worn it so I can deal with the lack of stripes.
One of the many things I love about this pattern is the length of the sleeves.  I have giant long monkey arms and I like to have my wrists covered in when I'm cold, so usually I have to lengthen the sleeves but the Renfrew sleeves hit at the perfect place for me.

Obviously on the day my sister and I headed out to take these photos the sun came out and I was boiling!  However, its gone back to being cold and grey and miserable again and I am currently snuggled up in it as I type this.  It's starting to make me dream of winter sewing plans and I haven't finished my summer ones yet!

Thanks to my sister for taking all these pictures.  Now I'm off to do a sun dance to see if the gods will smile on me and grant me some sun!