Monday, 28 February 2011

Oh I am so stylish...

...or so do two lovely fellow bloggers say, as I have received a Stylish Blogger Award. I am chuffed, thank you very much. The lovely fellow bloggers are Handmade Jane and Roobeedoo. Make sure you click on those links and check the gorgeous things on these great bloggers blogs.

So in proper custom I have to reveal 7 things about me that people might not know. I think the first one is quite fitting a starting point:
  1. I am terrible at keeping secrets that relate to myself. My mum was always telling me off for blurbing personal things to everyone I encounter. Fear not, I am very good at keeping secrets that relate to other people. It's my secrets I can't keep. I struggle if I have to work on a secret personal project and can't tell anyone or for example, I initially decided I wouldn't tell anyone at work I make clothes. Pfff...I already have a potential clientele list at work, so 'impressed' they are with my sewing skills (which I frequently talk about). On this note, you might already know all remaining 6 facts.
  2. My other hobby is photography, namely people photography. Portraits, fashion that type of thing. And I like it with a alternative twist. I don't do it as often because pulling all resources to do a creative photoshoot takes much money and with no return income it's very difficult. I do have a website (which needs updating) if you want to have a look ( And maybe I should write a post on photography tips. What do you think?
  3. I did Sociology in University and after a few admin/ research jobs started working with substance misuse clients (drugs users). That is my whole work experience, 10 years working in addictions and behaviour therapies. 
  4. When I applied to university, Sociology was my last option. All my energy and resources were on History related courses and the original idea was Archeology with a specialisation in Egyptology. It was a big disappointment not to get in those areas. 
  5. My first time on a sewing machine sewing was June 2010, when my lovely BF gave me one for my birthday. When I was a teen, my mum tried to teach me how to sew, knit, mend, crochet, cook, embroid but I didn't want to learn anything of that sort. Which is a shame really but hey, better late then never.
  6. I'm Portuguese but was born in Germany and lived there for part of my childhood. I have many great childhood memories and I'm very fond of Germany and german language because of this. In school I used to say I felt half Portuguese half German.
  7. I have 6 (or is it 7) tattoos all in various sizes but none small. I love them all and want more.
That's it! Now for my nominations, all gorgeous, all stylish and all great bloggers:

Butterflies and Hurricanes
Lady Cherry Loves
Vintage Girl
Veronica Darling
Tilly and the Buttons
Welsh Pixie

Thursday, 24 February 2011

PS - I made this... after a looong time!

This gorgeous book landed on my door step via the wonderful Lizzet from The Fabric Loft and I was thrilled with it. The wonderful endless possibilities of creating gorgeous accessories from everyday materials inspired me and I immediately chose a few projects I wanted to do. Months passed and nothing happened either because I was too involved in sewing projects or because I was lacking a few supplies. But in all this time I did make something.

The necklace below was inspired by the book's military earrings. I'm not one for earrings but liked the idea so much I decided on a necklace. It took me ages to gather supplies, namely small tassels. It is not a perfect necklace as I got glue everywhere but I quite like it. I really need to work on my attention and skill with little things.
The other project I worked on from this book was a jersey cowl vest which has pretty easy instructions on the book. However I have not found it easy. In fact I have attempted it twice. I first used a jersey fabric, as suggested, but the cowl collar was all wrong. After a few months I decided to try again but with a wool tartan and managed something a bit better. However, and to my greatest disappointment, for me to achieve the look shown below it took my long time fiddling around with the thing and draping it nicely on me. Not the easiest thing for on the go.
I definitely want to try a few more projects, but need to wait until I find the necessary supplies (like old leather pants that fit my legs). 

Sunday, 20 February 2011

It's a Zebra Wrap!

My Colette Zebra Crepe Wrap Dress done as part of Gerties Sew Along is done. I finished it about a week ago but have been waiting for some good(ish) weather to go out and take some photos. That hasn't happen so all you get for now is some indoor photos.

I am very happy with this dress and have Gertie to thank for all the tutorials and support. The final construction steps were not hazard free. I had to do some serious fudging after some pattern pieces not matching others but at the end it all came together nicely. It was all due to changing pattern pieces during the fitting stage so need to take extra care in future to make sure everything matches everywhere.
Gertie used french seams and bias binding but I decided against it as my fabric is a medium weight cotton. With the batiste as underlining, french seams would make it too bulky. I opted by pressing seams open and overlocking (with a overlocker foot). With the waist seam I also pressed it open and hand sewn some seam binding. I'll leave you with a shot from the inside. I think it's the first inside I really like (even though I can't seam to press the batiste properly).

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

My Sabrina Dress #2-Tracing

So how do you trace a vintage pattern? Depending on its condition, the same way as any other pattern, I would say. There are a multitude of tools and materials you can use to trace a pattern. Some are cheaper than others, some are bespoke to tracing. I think it is a matter of individual preference what you use to trace your patterns. If you are indecisive just try a few and see how it goes. I use greaseproof paper, the same sort you'll find fairly cheap in your supermarket. It is brown, transparent enough to trace without the need of a light underneath the pattern and sellotape sticks well to it. This last point is very important. I am yet to find industrial greaseproof paper in a width larger than 375mm. This means that for most pattern pieces I have to sellotape sheets together. If you know where I can find it, please let me know!  
The Sabrina Dress pattern pieces came out of the envelope just like it shows on the first photo. The pieces are in pretty good condition in comparison with the envelope. I fear that might crumble at any moment.
The next step with any pattern, for that matter, is to iron the pieces before tracing them. We want to make sure the traced piece is an exact (or nearly exact) replica of the original. I started with a low setting on the iron as I wasn't sure how the paper would react.
Next it's important to find a stable surface where you can spread your original pattern and the tracing paper of your choice. Even more important is to make sure you secure both pieces together so they don't shift whilst tracing. There are specific weights you can purchase for this but you can also improvise with heavy objects around you, like a can on beans. Unfortunately I do not have a suitable tracing surface as my desk is too narrow. This makes tracing circle skirts a real juggle. To keep my paper still I use a mix of heavy objects and clamps I use on the desk border. 
I was pleasantly surprised with how different this pattern is from current patterns. It gives a lot more information on the pattern piece itself. I know this is not the case with all vintage patterns. This one, which I remind you is a Simplicity 4808 circa 1954, has seam lines printed in the pattern indicating the 5/8" allowance to use.  It also has notes on how to stitch darts and pleats.
All 9 pieces are ready now for cutting, marking and preparing to start sewing the muslin. And before you go, let me direct you to this link, where the lovely Casey from Elegant Musings shares her tips on tracing a vintage pattern.
Bad photo of part of my sewing space. I like hanging the pattern on the blinds.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Very Easy Vogue 8476 - The wearable muslin

Some time ago I purchased two Very Easy Vogue shirt patterns but only recently decided to have a go at one of them. I have to say shirts scare me more than trousers. I think it's all the buttons!
The decision to make it now came after one of my attempts at organising my fabric scrap stash. I found some green cotton remnants too narrow to do anything big. I thought I would check pattern pieces size for the shirts and voila, it fitted perfectly well.
Initially I wanted to do view B as I love the puff sleeves but my fabric didn't stretch that much and I went for View A, the sleeveless one. I treated it as a muslin/ toile that if good enough I could wear. If not I would probably learn something new.  I think I managed both things.
Things went a bit wrong with this shirt right from the beginning. And all due to me not reading things properly.
After all cutting and marking I realised that this pattern asks for loops instead of buttonholes. I know I said I'm a bit afraid of the latter but that's exactly why I started the shirt. I decided to try to insert buttonholes instead. When it came to stitching front facings I hit a wall. I couldn't understand how the instructions where asking for front facings when there were no facings pattern pieces! After asking here and there, lovely folk at The Sewing Forum noted that the front piece acts as facing and I should have cut 4 pieces. How embarrassing it that! As I had run out of green I had to improvise with other fabric and went for a red (which you can see peeking out in that first shirt photo). After all this I became a bit careless and the buttons are not perfect. I finished with a narrow hem (with a narrow hem foot I got recently) and boy do I need practice!
I will probably wear this shirt as it is wearable but already plan on try again, this time with Vogue 8557.

How about you? Do you have experience sewing shirts? Have you ever tried? Any tips?

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Bits and Bobs

Some bits and bobs from the last couple of weeks that do not justify one post for each. 

When I started with my Crepe Wrap Dress I decided to do a matching purse to use leftover fabrics and followed instructions for the Evergreen wallet from Issue 25 of Sew Hip Magazine. I have to confess for this one, instructions were a bit odd and I ended up with pieces left out. I quite like it but think I could make something better and I'm currently playing around with pencil and paper drafting a wallet design. I also doubt I will use this wallet when wearing the's a bit zebra overload, don't you think?
You probably read somewhere in the blog or on my twitter that I have some train holidays very soon and have plans to take some knitting to keep me busy. With the fabric leftover from my latest trousers and a fat quarter I got from SewHip magazine I did the below to carry my knitting. It looks like a toiletry bag but it will do its purpose!
Very boringly I also did a drawstring bag for my pegs and a plastic bag holder with some patchwork. Excuse the bad photo on this one.
Lastly two pieces of fabric I found in a local second hand warehouse. Majority of stuff available is furniture and crockery, but under a table I found a box of remnants and the two pieces below. Each are approximately one meter. One pound was all it cost!

Friday, 4 February 2011

Sewing Books Analysis

 One day of this week I found some time, between work meetings, to do a charity shop crawl at a busy town centre. I was so excited as there are about 5 or 6 of these all in the same street. However I was very disappointed. Even bearing in mind the brilliant words by So, Zo... on her post Saving and Sewing (brilliant stuff, by the way) there was nothing that sparked my interest. As I abandoned all hope I decided to enter the remaining one, dedicated to books only and there I managed to salvage the crawl by purchasing two sewing related books.
As I got home I struggled to find room for them (need more book shelves) and was somehow surprised at the amount of sewing books I have managed to accumulate in 7 months. A lot of times I browse the book, get some general ideas and put it aside as a reference book. That sort of bugs me! I want to be able to read it all, find out exactly it's contents, if instructions are easy, etc, etc. So what's stopping me? Nothing other than myself. 
I decided  I will get all the books I purchased so far and aim to read and use them and do a review in this blog! All in agreement, I would aim for one book review a month to be published on the last Sunday of the month, starting March (too soon to do it February).

By no means am I saying that I'm a professional reviewer or critic and I know there are tons of places to get book reviews but I think this will be a good chance to read a (potentially) more in-depth review by someone with a limited sewing experience. It will also "push me" to read it :) 

How does this sound to you all? It is something you would like to read?

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

My Sabrina Dress

I am about to start work on what I am already calling My Sabrina dress. Simply because it is a Sabrina dress...
Audrey Hepburn in Sabrina...featuring a Sabrina dress!
Have you ever watched this movie?
I will be using Simplicity 4808, dated 1954 on Vintage patterns Wiki. That's right, I will be making my first ever original vintage dress. Not a reproduction, not a inspired pattern, the real deal. How nerve wrecking and exciting at the same time!
"Junior Misses' Jumper with Two Skirts: "Simple to make" jumper may have a slim or full, gored skirt. Empire bodice has soft pleats at bustline and joins a midriff. A low, rounded neckline is featured. View 1 is outlines with top stitching at neck, armhole and midriff. View 2 shaped tab at center front neck edge is trimmed with buttons. Slim skirts has a pleat at lower edge of center back and soft pleats at front waistline."

After some of you expressed an interest on my twitter account, I have decided to make an indepth coverage of the making of this dress so look out for a lot of posts on tracing a vintage muslin, decipher it's instructions, make a muslin/toile (oh yes, muslin/toile is needed), cutting fabric, sewing final fabric, etc, etc, etc. I also think it will be interesting for those wishing to work with vintage patterns to read about my own experiences working for the first time with one. It might also help me, in getting tips and hints from more experienced vintage seamstress.
I do have a deadline for this dress but a very comfortable one so will take it easy and slowly. And of course, I will have a few sideline projects, as usual!

So next on My Sabrina Dress...Tracing a Vintage Pattern


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