"" The girl who makes things: May 2014

Saturday, 31 May 2014

Sewing for wedding season

Will it ever be sunny again? *she says mournfully* Grey skies, constant rain, chilly fingers... no wonder I want to hot foot it outta here and move to Spain. But despite the terrible weather here in the UK, I've been looking forward to the summer and thinking about sewing projects for the new season. Well, it keeps the spirits up. First on the agenda was a dress for a wedding I'm going to in Macedonia. And weddings mean one thing for me: dressmaking opportunity. So here's my latest make, a red tulip dress:

What can I tell you about this dress? Well, I've had the fabric in my stash for a looooong time. It's a lovely crisp cotton, a really good weight for this style and I absolutely adore the tulip design. I know Macedonia will be scorching (we're going in August) so natural fibres was the only way to go. No sweaty nylons in this town.

The pattern is taken from Simplicity 1419 and redrafted to fit me perfectly (thanks to my Craftsy Perfect Fit course!). I changed the neckline to give me a bit more breathing room and I gathered the skirt instead of box pleating it. I was going to leave it at that until I went mother of the bride shopping with my Mum and found quite a few dresses in Hobbs with a wrap waist.

The wrap waist is amazing! It cinches you in and accentuates the bust line - all the things I need in a dress. While she was trying on I geeked out over the wrap waist and tried to work out how I could adapt it into my own design. I ended up cutting four strips, about 17cm wide, from my fabric and tapered them to the end. I stitched the pieces together and turned them inside out to make two long ribbons.

There're two ways you can wear the wrap. Either draw it round the waist and tie at the back:

Or tie it at the back to make the dress more fitted:

I lined the bodice with white muslin (again natural fibres!) and used some of the techniques I learnt at the Yorkshire School of Sewing workshop. Things like under-stitching the lining (makes a massive difference to pressing necklines) and properly inserting the invisible zip. So I'm safe to say this is probably my most high quality piece yet.

I said this dress was for a wedding but I have feeling it'll have many outings before then. In fact I'm finding it difficult not to wear this dress, I'm so in love with it!


Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Back to Simplicity

Finally, a project post! I finished these two dresses a while ago but I haven't had any time to take photos or write about them. I've been so busy with teaching lately, it's difficult to summon the energy to sew, photograph and blog every project. I am determined to make a bit more effort though, especially after seeing all the amazing Me Made May posts out there.

So we'll start with the most recent project, a Simplicity 1419:

The fabric was a birthday present from my Auntie. She gave me a big stash of cotton (she knows me well) and this was definitely my favourite. I'm a big fan of the indie pattern companies, I love the Anna Dress, everything from Collette and I've recently purchased a pattern from Named Clothing which I've been hankering after for a while. It's always good, however, to come back to one of Big Four. I find it difficult to go wrong with a good, basic Simplicity pattern and this was no exception.

And the pattern is very straight forward: a basic bodice and a box pleated skirt. I liked the addition of a keyhole neckline which made me think of 60s dresses - perfect for this print. I made my usual alterations - a small bust adjustment and a slight narrowing of the bodice, but apart from that everything else stayed the same. In case your interested in how I did the small bust adjustment, look up Moonbeam's tutorial on the subject. You can't beat it!

I loved this pattern so much that I actually made two dresses. This was my first attempt, again using some birthday fabric:

You can't see the fabric in detail from this photo, but it's a kind of lime green and brown geometric print - again rather 60s. This was before I did the small bust adjustment so the dress doesn't fit quite as well as I wanted it to, but it's still wearable.

Anyways, it look like the sun's finally made an appearance for once so I'm off out. Hope you have a good day and enjoy the weather!

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Yorkshire School of Sewing

Hello bloggerland! It's been a looooooong time since I posted. Apologies for this. It turns out that making a massive career change to TEFL teaching takes it's toll on the old spare time. Night after night has been a succession of lesson planning. Brief life update: I'm still in Leeds at the moment but planning on moving to Italy/France in September when the academic year starts. I've managed to get work as an EFL teacher at a school in Leeds for the time being which has worked out wonderfully.

Brief sewing outline: I've made two summer dresses and almost finished one bridesmaids dress for my sister's wedding (hurrah!). I WILL blog my makes, I just need to find the time to take some photos, but they should be up soon.

So, in other sewing news, I attended a fantastic sewing workshop today (birthday present courtesy of mother) delivered by Gillian from Yorkshire School of Sewing. The workshop was on perfecting dressmaking techniques. We covered the basics from sewing a good seam through to lapped and invisible zips, using fusible interfacing, using different techniques for hemming, inserting the perfect sleeve and much more. The workshop was all about perfecting techniques as opposed to introducing anything new. I learned loads of useful stuff (most of which I'll be using on the other bridesmaids dresses) so it was a good day all round. Sometimes I think I think my biggest character flaw is my lack of perfectionism so hopefully the workshop has ironed out some of my cack-handedness.

If your in the county I'd definitely take a look at Gillian's website. If I had enough time (and money) I'd attend all the workshops. Happy bank holiday weekend,  hope you have a goodun!