"" The girl who makes things: August 2013

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

My new challenge - the Anna Dress Sewalong

I've just gone and done it. I've bought the Anna pattern from By Hand London and I'm about to embark on my first sewalong project! I'm so excited, not just to see how mine turns out but also to see what everyone else has made. I can't wait!

Anna Dress Sewalong

Now all I need to do is choose the fabric. It will need to be something worthy of such a beautiful dress.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Sunny holidays dress

I made this dress after I booked my flights to Southern France. I'd had the pattern for ages, but it didn't really inspire me enough to make anything. But that was before I'd decided to go on holiday!

I wanted something comfortable to wear on the beach so I used a roughly woven black cotton fabric. It seemed a bit boring to leave it plain, so I added some patterned ribbon to the skirt and sleeve edges.

Monday, 26 August 2013

Using up the leftovers

You might remember that I recently posted about a dress I made for a night out? Well, turns out I had a wee bit of leftover fabric from the project. Just enough for a little pair of shorts.

The pattern I used actually came from the same envelope (it was the trouser pattern) and all I did was chop off the legs. I've made these shorts a couple of times in different fabrics because they're so easy to make and really comfortable to wear.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

The Great British Bake off and making a toile...

Return of the Great British Bake Off! This only meant one thing: a night in front of the tv and a spot of dress making.

Now, I've seen toiles, or muslins, being written about all over the bloggesphere, it seems like the sort of thing you ought to do if you're going to take dressmaking seriously. A sign that you're a grown up. I'm not much of grown up. In fact, I have a confession to make, I've never made a toile before. I'm more of a scissors first, think later kinda gal. And yes, it has ended in tears.

But tonight, now that I'm relaxed and having a night in with the tv, it seemed like a good opportunity to give toile making a go. It's not just because I'm at a loose end though. I have a big task ahead of me. I'm going to be making FOUR bridesmides dresses for my sister's wedding next July. Eek! That means grown up sewing. I still have a fair amount of time to go, but I really don't want to screw this up. I need to get lots and lots of practice with toile making and grown up sewing.

I've just finished the toile for the bodice of a dress I'm going to make for my hoildays. It's only a practice, but if I get the fitting right then it will put me in good stead. I'm not really sure what you're meant to do when you make a toile, so I'm mostly feeling my way through. I've stiched up the bodice, pinned it to fit my manequin and then unpicked all the stitches and marked any alterations I'd made. Once I've bought the fabric I'm going to use use the toile pieces instead of the dress pattern to cut out the pieces.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

70s Retro

Looking for vintage patterns? Live near Leeds? Look no further, I've found a place. It's Retro Boutique on Hyde Park corner. An Aladdin's cave of antique furniture and vintage clothes, you could get lost in there for hours, which is exactly what I did last Sunday.

I didn't mean to go, I really didn't. My addiction to sewing is already blowing a sizeable hole in my salary, but when I cycled past this shop, I couldn't resist having a look. I'm not going to lie, it wasn't easy looking for vintage sewing patterns here. It's the kind of place you could do a circuit of around 5 times and still see something different each time you look. On my fifth time of looking, however, I managed to come across these babies.

Yes, while on my hands and knees, crawling around the shop, I opened a cupboard and found a massive stash of 70s sewing magazines. Excitement! Well, I could have asked the shop keeper how much it cost to take the whole lot home, but I managed some restraint. Instead I spent about an hour carefully going through each one and made a selection of two magazines I really wanted.

They are beautifully illustrated and full of useful sewing tips and instructions. Each magazine comes with an original 70s pattern for you to use. I've been thinking about making a winter coat for a while now and the design of this pea coat is really cute. I'll definitely be using it.

Not entirely sure about this daring number though? Did people really wear that?!

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Drafting a T-shirt pattern

I've seen a few tutorials on Pinterest about how to draft a T-shirt pattern and I've been hankering to have a go. My attempts at drafting sewing patterns haven't gone well so far, so I felt like this was a frontier I needed to conquer. One tutorial suggested using a T-shirt as a template, which seemed pretty straightforward so I gave it a go.

First off I laid the T-shirt out on a piece of newspaper and drew around the outline. I cut out the shape and folded it in half to make it even. I then transferred the template on to a new piece of paper and extended the outline by 1.5cm to create a seamallowance

I did the same with the sleeve. It was slightly trickier, but a bit of pulling and tugging at the shape gave me a good enough template. I measured the armhole and the sleeve edge to make sure they were the same length.

I chose a stretchy, jersey fabric with this doodle pattern. It came from the Sue Ryder vintage shop.

I joined up all the seams and stitched them together on a loose tension setting to allow for stretch. I left the edges raw to give the T-shirt a light, loose affect and I cut off the bottom of the front to make it cropped.

Friday, 9 August 2013

Sewing for a night out...

It's been a productive weekend sewing wise. I'm trying to train myself out of buying new clothes, particularly for special occasions, and instead try and make them from scratch. Every time I have the urge to buy a new dress I think 'no, I'll make it'. Strangely enough, since doing this I've become more aware of the shops on the high street and the clobber they try and flog us on a daily basis. There was an article I read in the Guardian recently called 'Admit it. You love cheap clothes. And you don't care about child slave labour'. If you haven't read it, I'd suggest you do. It highlights the despicably low income of many of the factory workers who make our clothes. Now I'm not trying to claim that I sew my own clothes for entirely selfless reasons. I do it because I enjoy it. But it does make you minful of what you wear and who's hands your clothes might once have been in. When making your own clothes you know you're not exploiting anyone, although I can't vouch for the workers who made the fabric. At the very least you know that you're taking one group of potentially exploited indivduals out of the chain.

So, when my friend suggested we go on a big night out in York this weekend, it presented the perfect opportunity for me to make something a bit nicer than the usual. I've been wanting to make the dress from this pattern for a while, all I needed was the fabric. I wanted something fairly heavy weight and satiny. Something that looked expensive.

To my luck I discovered this beautiful fabric on a stall in Leeds market. And it was discounted to £2.85 per metre! I'm not going to lie, it wasn't easy sewing, it did fray quite a bit, but, hey, I made something wearable.

There were only two alterations I made to the pattern. I shortened the skirt to make it more going-outy and I decided to do a V neck. I don't know why, I guess I thought it would look too heavy with a high neckline.

So, there goes my new night out dress, now I just need to wear it.