Monday 30 August 2010

SewHip star prize and a great sewing class

 I was extra excited to receive the last issue of SewHip magazine on the post.  I almost fell of my chair when I looked into the Gallery page and what do I see? The photo I sent with the tea dress I did back in June. After my initial shock I realised I had also won the star prize of the month and will receive £25 worth of fabric loveliness from Abakhan. YAY!! I started jumping up and down and my excitement lasted all night. In addition to that I was constantly looking at the magazine to see my face on it. There is something odd in seeing yourself printed in a magazine.
I am well chuffed to have won star prize and it gives me such a confidence kick in sewing. I know I have miles to go in order to do garments successfully, etc but this sure made my day. It made my month actually! I can't wait now to receive my fab prize and start planning what gorgeous things to do with them.  A big thank you to Alice and all the SewHip staff for this prize!!!

I was also well excited that my sewing class with The Thrifty Stitcher was approaching and couldn't wait to spend a whole day talking and doing sewing. Off I went to London on Saturday (waking up at 7am was no problem, comparing to when I have to go to work) and was greeted by the wonderful CL. The studio, in Stoke Newington, London, is lovely and full on wonderful sewing related bits and bobs. The class was "Getting started with a commercial pattern" and I know I have sewn wearable items with a pattern but felt I needed this to learn how to do things properly. I decided to do a A line skirt and practice my darts. Also keen to do some fitting adjustments. In the morning we spend time talking pattern, cutting and marking language and I learned many useful things that I was doing wrong (like folding fabric wrong sides together when marking and cutting and aligning at top ends rather than selvedge ends). I also got wonderful tips which will make life, and in this case patterns, so much easier. Afternoon was spend at the sewing machine and iron. In this stage I learned how to properly do a dart. It's so simple but I never realised I should pin the dart and that's why I was getting wonky darts. Duh!! After assembling the skirt we moved on to one of the most exciting parts of the day: learning how to insert an invisible zip. These look so sleek in a skirt or dress but can be a bit scary to do. With the great tuition and support of CL it's not scary anymore. In fact, with the right foot and careful measuring it's easier to do than a lapped one. Awesome! We moved on to do a waistband and using twill tape (or was it grosgrain?!) it was done in no time.
Next stage was fitting and some extra was taken out from my hips. I decided to disassemble the skirt and use it as a working pattern. Was a bit sad to cut it out but I wasn't going to wear it anyway. Lastly, CL shared with us a wicked way to do a hem on a full dress skirt, especially useful in slippery fabrics. I might take the hem of the Leopard print vintage dress up.
All in all, what a great day!! I probably could have gone on and on for a few more hours. Highly recommended if you want to get your teeth into sewing but are afraid of trying. Check their website for more info on what's on offer. They also have a meet up group and drop ins. Shame I'm not in London!

Friday 27 August 2010

Leopard Print Vintage Dress

I am very pleased to inform you that I have finished the vintage dress based on Butterick 6582 pattern. If you scroll down, you'll see some photos I took, wearing the dress. But first, some background information and construction challenges.
When I finished the toile I was unsure of what fabric to use. The lovely vintage type blue fabric I got on a car boot sale, which I shared here, or a leopard print fabric I bought from Abakhan. My first wish was to go with the blue fabric but I love it so much I prefer to keep it for when I improve my skills. The leopard print fabric made me also weary as it is a poly chiffon so very, very slippery and a nightmare. And indeed a nightmare it proved to be, as I chose that fabric exactly.
Marking and Cutting: was a challenge as I do not have a suitable surface and the fabric is way too slippery. My back also hurt after cutting and marking all.
Constructing the bodice: Because of the already mentioned slippery caracteristic of the fabric, doing the darts was a bit hit and miss to be honest, and I had to use my seam ripper to get it to an acceptable level. The rest of the bodice, which included panels and uses interfacing was quite easy. I changed the shoulder seams as the pattern instructed on a hand sewing technique I couldn't understand.
Constructing the skirt: The skirt was gathered almost all way round and this was not as difficult as I had foreseen. Quite a lot of fabric to gather but, in this instance, the fact that it is slippery and lightweight helped. Attaching to bodice was straightforward too. When it came to doing the hem, oh boy!! That was a nightmare and it's probably the worst hem around. 
Finishing:  Zip was ok to insert. It's a lapped one and it's a bit wonky but workable. I know I need improving on these. The pattern had a belt to be done and my first thought was to make it out of leatherette. However, I have way too many belts so decided not to do it and use an existing one. I decided to do a fabric flower with a covered button in the middle. Not sure it resembles a flower but I quite like it. 
It is not a perfect made dress but I'm very happy with it. I love it and found the perfect excuse to buy some black wedges to wear it with. I think they'll look better than the ones I used for the shoot.

So I finally present you the visual evidence, the photos of the dress.I used a petticoat underneath which unfortunately is a bit shorter, hence the odd effect. Do let me know what you think, I would love to hear your comments.

                                                               Click on the photo to enlarge

Photos by Sanyflame Photography (that's me too)

Tuesday 24 August 2010

Lady Grey Colette Pattern Sew Gertie

I'm a regular reader of Gertie's New Blog for better sewing and have been at two hearts and two minds over jumping on board and joining their sew-along. The project is the Lady Grey Coat by Colette Patterns. It is marked as an advance but at the same time, reviews say that it's an easy entry into the world of tailoring and coats. I really, really, want to have a go at tailoring and actually making something for cooler, I decided the unthinkable and I'm joining in. Probably way too much for my skill level at present but I will have a go nonetheless. I'm actually thinking with good instructions and feedback, which will be provided, I can make it.

I'm mad, I know!!

Saturday 21 August 2010

Vintage Dress Butterick 6582 toile

I had a feeling yesterday that I would advance with this toile quite quickly and so it was. Last night I finished the bodice  and cut the skirt panels. As it involved gathering a lot of fabric I've left that for this morning. I think the fit is pretty good. I think at this stage I'm just excited to finish something and with time and experience might become more aware of little problems. The skirt was long and I don't particularly like that, so reduced length considerably. You can see the toile below, on my dressform. I've put a random belt on just to illustrate how it'll look. And as it's probably noticeable, I didn't press it.

I am now trying to decide in what fabric to do this. Originally I had this in mind but I'm still unsure. It is such a gorgeous fabric and it was a real great find. My skills are still not perfected so part of me wants to keep it for when I'm more confident in my sewing. Does that make sense?

Friday 20 August 2010

Update on Vintage Dress and pattern blocks

Earlier this week I ran out of pins, so had to delay the start of my vintage dress (Butterick 6582). I used the time to finish the bodice block and you can see the result of that in the picture on the left. I think I'm quite happy with the fit, not sure I need to make any alterations. Probably the sleeve hole will need some adjustments but I'll only find that out when attaching the sleeve. That will take some time though.

I started work on the vintage dress. First I traced the pattern onto new tracing paper. That took some time and a few challenges. Do you trace your patterns onto tracing paper or cut straight from the pattern? Is so, what do you use to attach the sheets together and make sure they don't move? I used paper clips but interested to know what you use. As I mentioned in the last post, I am doing a toil with cheap unbleached cotton first. I decided to go with view C, which is the full skirt one. I struggled to get the fabric cut as I simply do not have enough floor space to spread 4m of 60inch wide fabric. For that reason I've cut all the bodice parts first and will leave the skirt panels for later.
As you can see, I am now in the process of transfering markings, which I also find a challenge. I quite like to use thread markings. What do you use?

I suspect I will advance with this quite a bit as I have a whole weekend without any commitments or plans. Saying that I will stop whenever tired or unsure as that is a sure way of getting things wrong and I have already learned that lesson.

I have a burning beginner question: What is the difference between iron on interfacing and sew in interfacing (despite the obvious difference of course). Can I get away with using iron on interfacing when the pattern envelope suggests sew in?

Sunday 15 August 2010

Vintage Dress Pattern and other bits

I bought this pattern online a few weeks ago. I think its a bit too ambitious for me to try and do this but very slowly, I'm going to give it a go. Learning on my previous mistakes I'm making a toile with cheap calico first and only after I'm happy and confident with that, I move to the next stage. Basically it might be months before anything is done, but I'll keep you updated with the works. I'm also indecisive on which one to do. I think the straight skirt would look more flattering on me but the full skirt one is gorgeous. Some thinking to do here.

The one thing I've been doing is some personalised pattern blocks. I am only in the initial stages. I'm using the templates on the book How to use, adapt and design sewing patterns by Lee Hollahan which is a very good book, I have to say. I have graded the patterns on grid paper and have transferee the bodice to tracing paper, with added seam allowance. Next step is to transfer the skirt ad sleeves. After that is done I will do the toile and check fit. I am not in a hurry for this as they are mainly used for creating own designs and I'm still miles away from it.

I am also doing a second Leopold (check my previous post). One of my friends liked it so much he hinted he wanted one. His birthday is next month so perfect timing. 

Lastly, I really need some lounge comfy pants so need to get a easy quick pattern to do some. If you can recommend any leave me a comment.

Reaching the end of my post, I realise how I wait too long to post a blog and then have lots of little bits to say, making the tittle a bit redundant. Need to post more frequently and up to date.

Sunday 8 August 2010

I introduce you...Leopold!

Isn't he cute? This is the result of my latest sewing project. I decided to do the patchwork mouse featured in latest issue of SewHip magazine. It is all but perfect but I really like it. I followed the instructions carefully but a couple of things made it less than perfect (alongside my beginner skills):
 -  I wanted to use leatherette and the leopard print fabric and it wasn't a wise choice. The leatherette was easy to sew in but the leopard fabric is very flimsy and slippery, not to say in frays a lot.
 - Adding to that that the little fellow is indeed very small, made the work very precise, and therefore not very easy.
 - There was a need for some hand sewing and I'm truly rubbish at that.
In all I spent around a week doing it (maybe a little less) and in hours where I was tired and wanted to go on an on I stopped. I am learning some lessons, even though more need to be learned.

This week, I have also enrolled in a one day course with The Thrifty Stitcher. It's at the end on this month and about using commercial patterns. I have a few of those and have  (sort of) used them but to the quite honest, results have been rubbish. It will be great to start something and finish it with the support, advise and guidance from someone. Can't wait!!
I had also enrolled in a knitting workshop at John Lewis but that, unfortunately, was cancelled.

Last but nor least, I need to share with the the beautiful fabric I purchased today at a car boot sale. I was a bit disappointed that with such a huge car boot sale there was next to nothing that caught me eye. But, this fabric was worth the journey and I'm in love with it.

It says in the selvedge 100% cotton and it does feel like it. It is quite dirty in places and I need to give it a good wash. If you have any idea of the origin of the fabric, let me know!

Saturday 7 August 2010

Practice, Practice, Practice

I've been practicing my sewing skills a lot, in the past couple of weeks. There's no point in me jumping the gun and trying to make elaborate things, if my basic skills are not yet developed. I was always very hasty in things. I want something I want it now! With that in mind, practice can be boring but I'm doing it.

Yesterday evening I started a new project. It is a decorative one and it was classified as "Intermediate" in the last issues of SewHip. I am taking my time with it and tacking every seam before I sew. Hoping to show you the result in my next post.

I also finally got a tailors dummy. I'm happy with it but have to say at the same time a bit disappointed. It is a adjustable model, size petite. The small model had bigger boobs than mine are. The problem with being petite is that at the waist and hips I have to open it quite up to get my measurements and that leaves a huge hole in the model. Not very handy for pinning fabric. It is also rather flimsy and I keep thinking it's going to fall over when using it. Never mind, it's my first dummy and will probably do the job at my skill level. All I need now is to reorganize space in our laboratory. ;)

Have a great weekend!

Sunday 1 August 2010

It's all so quiet...

Sewing wise, it's all very quiet. After followed failed attempts at doing some garments I decided t step back and just practice basic techniques in scrap fabric. I've done a variety of zips and hems successfully and want to look at sleeve construction next. However for this I need a decent bodice so decided to step further back and do some blocks with my measurements. This isn't to say that I won't pop up suddenly with something but to be honest I'm more focused on practice, practice, practice.

Learning how to sew/ dressmaking reminds me when I was learning photography. It was all so overwhelming: aperture and shutter speed, distance to subject, ISO sensitivity, color balance, compositions...arhhhhh! So much to take in consideration for one image. After practice, it's all very natural, so I'm hoping sewing will be the a similar process.

I'm hoping to get a tailors dummy today from a Ebay auction. I really think that 3d garment construction will make more sense to me that flat pattern only. Will let you know if I'm the lucky winner!


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