Monday, 26 August 2013

Vintage coat rework

I bought this coat from a charity shop last winter thinking that it would be my new favourite item!


 Firstly, I love the mohair blend fabric and secondly I thought that the fact it was a size 18 would give a great oversized look that I had seen and liked alot. In reality it just always looked too big. The problem with this is that it is very structured on the shoulders, so was too bulky up top. If it had a raglan sleeve or more of a shoulder slope then maybe I could have carried it off. I still love the fabric and thought it a shame to not do anything with it. Even looking at the pictures now, I think that it should have somehow worked as  coat, but it really didn't.

I decided I would like a vintagey shaped boxy jacket with a more contemporary silhouette. The sort I would love to buy from Cos or Marimekko if I had the money!

This is kind of what I mean. Easy shapes that look clean and are easy to wear.

I have this vintage Vogue sewing pattern for a boxy jacket that I referred to for neckline and shoulder ideas and also provides a visual link to the vintage and contemporary look I am going for.


I was hoping to avoid having to make buttonholes, as they could have ruined the finish, so retained as much of the original detail as possible in my rework. I cut the jacket, so that the hem, button front, pockets, lining and sleeve hems were all in tact. This helps to make it look less handmade. It also made this a REALLY quick project that I completed in just a couple of hours once I had considered and planned my approach.

The finished jacket and how it was originally part of the coat.

I pinned some simple pattern pieces to the front of the coat and lined up the centre fronts before cutting the shape of the neckline and shoulder slopes. The cut stops at the side of the coat, but there is no side seam on this garment. I did the same with the back and made a big enough straight cut down the sides to insert the sleeves. I then cut the sleeves from the original coat as far up as I thought I wanted the length of the sleeves to be. I machined the shoulders of the main fabric and lining sewed and topstitched the neckline before inserting the sleeves, finishing the armhole lining by hand. The only change I may make is to source some nicer buttons, or to make some cover buttons with the remainder of the fabric.

Finished jacket front. The oriignal pockets are now nearer closer to the armpit than the hip.

finished jacket back
 Overall verdict - I love it!

Sunday, 25 August 2013

'J' Dress with lovely pintucks

Well, this time I do not have an image of the original from the book as I have not had time to take the picture, but here is the finished garment.


I have gone for a simple smock style (again!) and have adapted the finishing slightly by not including a functional button down front and adding in side pockets. The material is a medium weight woven cotton in very fine white and navy stripe.


I have added non-functional mother of pearl buttons for a bit of extra detail and used a navy thread to add contrast to the overall lightness of the dress, but tie in with the fabric weave.


The gathered details to the sleeve head, cuff and back neck all add feminine detail to this very simple tunic.

Inside detail of side pockets


Friday, 23 August 2013

'V' Button placket dress

I often think I have more than half a brain, but it did not seem so when it came to this project!

Original from book

I started out feeling really good about it having traced and cut the paper pattern, followed by the fabric (which I really love). I then put it to one side for a few days, whilst I got on with some other bits only to return to some obviously incorrect looking pieces. I took the sleeves I had cut and instantly noticed that the sleeve heads looked too narrow. I ran to check the pattern book... yep, I had forgotten to add any seam allowances! Doh! I was so annoyed with myself. Could I be bothered to forge on with this thankless project? Normally I would walk away immediately, as there's little point spending time on a project which is not going to end well, but a thought in the back of my mind was saying that maybe this could just work. One of the saving graces of most of these Japanese styles is that they are so loose fitting that a few centimetres shaved off here or there doesn't have to end in disaster. Here is the finished article!

My version

 The only major problems my earlier mishap caused was that the button placket had no seam allowance to join to, meaning I would have either had to insert a little pleat beneath the buttons as I was 2cm short of fabric down the centre front where I had cut out a section for the placket, or add an insert to keep the front nice and smooth. I preferred the smooth option, but it meant more work. I inserted a contrast band right around the placket to add the missing 2cm, which does not compromise the original design. The other idiot thing I did was to use the cuffs from another pattern cut ready for a blouse project. The cuffs on this dress are supposed to be thin bias binding strips, not 2" deep cuffs!



Anyhew...despite all of that I couldn't be happier with how this turned out. The denim fabric I chose has worked really well and the reverse side provided a perfect contrast for all the trims. I added pockets into the side seams, as I cannot bear to not have pockets and I have used my favourite orangy red plastic buttons that I have completely overused on past projects, but don't care!

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

'B1' Draped collar dress

My first make from the Feminine wardrobe book, had to be this draped collar dress.

Original from book
I love the shirt hem and gusset detailing to the bottom of this dress and is something that I have applied to my own designs in the past. I found this lovely printed voile from a very cheap fabric shop in town and think it suits this style perfectly.

My version




I was a bit stingy when buying my fabric and only bought 2 metres, which meant that I did not have quite enough to cut the collar on the true bias or the sleeves in the correct direction of the print. I ended up cutting the sleeves with the width ways pattern running down the sleeve instead of lengthways and the collar I just cut on as much of a diagonal as possible. I think it's worked out fine considering. The pattern is so big and busy that you can't notice the direction of the cut so much and the drape of the collar is still there, which is better than trying to cut with the grain.

'A' Front tuck blouse

Here is my first completed make from the Stylish dress book - simple smocks, dresses and tops!

Original finished object from book
I have decided not to offer myself as a model, as there is A: no-one here to take the photo and B: My tummy makes everything stick out too much.

My finished version



This is a simple pleated front, roomy top that I liked because of the frill detail to the sleeves. It should also see me through the rest of my pregnancy pre and post as it more than covers my tummy. Like I said, this top is roomy!

The design was easy to put together and the instructions helpful. The lengthiest process was tracing and cutting the paper pattern, which made my eyes go a bit funny due to the maze of lines on each pattern sheet. It's all good though.


I have decided to be organised about storing the patterns as I cut them and pop them in plastic sleeves with a photo of the garment in the front. Normally when I draft my own patterns I'm very disorganised and fold them up and pile them in a box somewhere so that I have to unfold each one to find out what it is. This is much better!

Friday, 16 August 2013

No bought clothes or 1 year

Since buying my new sewing pattern books (stylish dress book and feminine wardrobe), I have been scouring the internet to find images of other people's makes and have come across the blog of Daniela Gargiulo. She has resolved to not buy any new clothes for 1 year, which is something that I find very appealing. Like alot of people, as soon as pay day comes around I go out and 'treat myself' to something new, whether I need it or not. I hope to put a stop to this habitual behaviour and feel that now is the perfect time to start! The quality of clothes on the high street often disappoints, so need to keep this in mind when lusting after images of what I could be wearing.



I am about to go on maternity leave for a second time, so will have both little time and money to spare, so plan to make garments either hand sewn or knitted (when I do manage to find the time) and only wear the shoes in my cupboard...eek! I think the shoes will be the hardest part, as I am a bit obsessed. I won't turn down a gifted pair of shoes mind!!! I am not willing to forgo new undies and tights, but I will mend where possible.

The question is, can I also apply the same rules to my new baby? I may give it a go, but not sure if that's a very realistic notion, as vests and tights are going to be essential. Maybe that falls under the underwear category!

Looking forward to this challenge, but not looking forward to the January sales!



Thursday, 15 August 2013

Japanese sewing pattern books

I have just been paid for the first time in what seems like ages and I've gone and had a bit of a book splurge! As well as Susan Crawfords 'a stitch in time volume 2' (an amazing knitting book), I have ordered a few Japanese sewing pattern books. I'm still waiting for one to arrive, but the 2 I have got are enough to keep me busy for a while!

Book 1 is 'Feminine wardrobe: 21 beautiful skirts, dresses, and tops'
Book 2 is 'Stylish dress book: simple smocks, dresses and tops'


I'm going to start by making the following three items this weekend and see how they fit! 

Draped neck dress - I have a fine cotton with bold floral print cut for this
Button front smock - this will be made from a medium weight denim with woven check surface (hopefully the fabric's not too heavy)
Pleated front top - I found an unused piece of vintage peachy floral cotton fabric in a charity shop perfect for this.
I have already made start and traced my pattern pieces onto some grease proof paper (much cheaper than tracing paper) and cut most of the fabric. Just a bit more cutting and the sewing can commence!

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Free vintage slip pattern

I have just stumbled across this great free pattern for a vintage 1940's style slip courtesy of House of Jo. It's very simple, but something I've needed in my wardrobe for sometime! I may whip one up this week, although being fairly pregnant by now I doubt it's going to make me feel great about my ever expanding figure!


 Get link to pattern here.