Friday, 26 September 2014

Print swap round-up

It's been a while since the print swap ended, but I've finally gotten around to collecting everyones images together.

It was such good fun and I really enjoyed chatting with everyone along the way to find out what they were up to! I really hope that my fellow swappees will take something away from this and maybe print/dye fabric for future projects, as there are some brilliant results and it really enriches the making process (in my humble opinion)

Below is a round up of what got swapped and with who (partners are pictured in pairs). If you want to visit the respective blogs then the links are at the bottom of the page. I'm sure you'll spot in the top row that there is dress made up already. Nice one Charlotte and may I say a splendid print too Claire! Although, they are all splendid prints, so not meaning to single anyone out. I'm not sure if this is going to be a regular annual thing or not, but it was really good. I'll put the call out next year some time, so if you're interested then watch out!!!

A big thank you again to everyone who swapped. So nice to meet new sewing peeps!

Christmas decoration swap anyone? Writing a post about that soon!

Charlotte (english girl at home)  -  Claire (hoopes park studios)

Katie (what katie sews/what katie does)  -  Lucy (reniqlo)

Louise (elsiemay and bertha)  -  Béa (beas sewing adventure)

Amandine (fleur de carotte)  -  Kate (fit and flare)

Jen (tea for two diary)  -  Ingrid (we the sewing)

Amanda Stinton (instagram)  -  Jenna (just sew jenna)

Carrie (oh she dabbles)  -  Me (Here!)

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Look Dad I made a leather bag!

Me, me, I made a bag!!!

My Dad gave me some red leather quite some time ago now. Definitely more than 10 years, but not sure when. He bought a leather hide from a local tannery in Devon to make an apron for his workshop for if he was welding or something like that and gave me the leftovers.

It had been folded and moved from place to place ever since that time with no purpose at all. I have tried to work with leather before, but this is really thick. It's the kind of thickness that is used for satchels, so completely unusable for clothing or trims.

It wasn't until I found the leather the other day that cogs started to turn and ideas started brewing. At first I was thinking very ambitiously and thought of making an Orla Kiely inspired animal shape and then I thought a house, but finally I thought that I should calm down and bring it down a notch. I hadn't the faintest idea about how to work with this thick leather, so was getting way ahead of myself.

After reading a post about a bag kit on Tillys blog I decided a simple shape was needed. I actually borrowed alot of ideas of construction from there too.

I have a satchel already that I used to use alot, so took my bag dimensions from there. I quickly plotted a template on illustrator and stuck it to the leather with double sided tape. I thought that this would be easier to cut around if they were stuck in place, although I wouldn't advise that on leather with a special finish to it.

I cut the pieces out with a metal ruler and a scalpel (the blade would carve into a plastic ruler)

I then took the pieces over to my sewing machine, removed the thread and punched holes along the edges to be stitched. My theory was to make the holes and then handstitch the bag together. I would never get a neat machine stitch on this and I would struggle to push the hand sewing needle through the leather, so this was my way of mimmicking the bag kit that Tilly used.

 I used some thread to hold the bag together at certain points and to check that it would fit together ok...

Then proceeded to handstitch. By the time I got to this first corner my hands were sore. The holes I punched were still too small and only made it marginally easier. The stitches also looked pretty messy having gone back over this line to fill in the gaps and make it look like a machine stitch, so I decided to brave it on the machine. It was not possible to machine stitch it all, as I couldn't persuade the leather to flex enough to fit under the foot, so I stitched most of the straight edges and hand stitched the corners.

Even though I was using a childs thick cardboard book and a cotton reel to help push the needle through, my fingers are still really sore. If anyone can offer any leather sewing tips I would be very interested.

 I got some bag hardware (is that the correct term?) from Merchant and Mills with my last order, as this had been on my mind for a while, so had fun attaching the bag handle. I couldn't cut a strap piece long enough from the leather I had left, so cut it in two pieces punched some corresponding holes and screwed them together with these chicago screws. I also used these to attach the handle to the bag. So satisfying and no dodgy stitching required.

The front flap was originally curved at the corners, but I decided this looked strange somehow and tried to give it an envelope look. It now kind of looks like the back of a normal bag! To fasten the flap down I used these screw-in Sam Browns. Don't you just love this stuff? I could get hooked on using these little screws.

I punched holes for all these little bits with my leather punch, which was just from some cheapo hardware store many years ago. The holes on the front flap to push over the 'Sam Browns' have a slight slit cut at the top to expand the hole over (if that makes sense)

In all honesty, this is not the best thing I've ever made, but it's usable (and I will use it) and it's made use of something I never thought would come out of the stash, so I'm happy! It actually looks ok and a bit vintage, but if you were a stickler for neat stitches then the finish on this might drive you round the bend.I did have more photos to offer you of dodgy stitching and also what it looked like before I changed the shape of the front flap, but I seem to have deleted these ahead of time, so you'll just need to take my word for it!

So, if after all that you are interested in making a bag yourself then I have uploaded my template for you.


Dolores clothes and sustainable sewing

Me and jersey are becoming better friends all the time!

I stumbled upon a bargain haul last Wednesday at the local market. 4 large pieces of production waste jersey for £1 a piece. You do the maths! The very next day (I think) Zoe from So Zo announced that she was releasing her first dress making pattern and later that day I was treated to a pre-release copy. It couldn't have worked out better matching this sustainably sourced fabric with a pattern from the queen of sustainable sewing. The rest is history as far as my next garments are concerned.

The pattern (if you haven't seen it) offers options for a sleevless batwing top, dress or tunic as well as long sleeved versions. I have made both the long sleeved top and the sleevless dress and let me tell you that these are quick to make! I am very limited with time at the moment. I won't bore you with it, but Maria has been teething and unwell, Evan is starting to drop his nap and my previous baby free evenings and daily nap breaks have been hampered. I had a free evening on Sunday, so thought I would cut the dress. 1 hour in and I had finished it with still an hour to spare before bedtime, so went for it with the stripey top too.

I really love the boat neckline. It is very flattering and I can see myself needing this in several colours as well as black! I didn't realise I had this black gap in my wardrobe until I read Ingrids post on her black dress the other day. Now I 'need' one.

This is how I plan to wear my spotty dress! I recently bought some new Leopard print boots and plan to wear them with everything this winter.

There are pattern pieces for arm cuffs, which bring the armhole in tighter, but before adding these on, I tried the dress for fit and decided I quite liked them loose and left as is. I finished the armhole edges by turning in and topstitching with a zig zag stitch on my sewing machine.

In case you're interested I made a size 14. I didn't want too much pulling on the fabric, as it has a white reverse side which shows through if pulled tight and also the spots would look wierd if pulled, so I erred on the side of caution. Zoe does suggest using very drapey jerseys for this dress and both of mine fit this description. I think that they are a viscose mix with a possible cotton content because they are lovely and soft, but it's hard to tell as I'm not a jersey expert.

Here's the top I made! This jersey is such good quality and soooo soft. I only wish I could buy it by the yard from somewhere, but I guess that's the luck of the draw really. I wore this all day yesterday and can confirm that it's extremely comfy and looks great!

This is a new shape for me. I tend to wear boxy styles that sit away from my body when wearing jersey, but the fact that this comes in at the waist actually makes it more versatile. I would struggle to wear my usual tops with this skirt as I would look like a square, but this works. I've had this skirt for about 7 years and it feels as though it's been waiting for this top!

Really loving the tight sleeves too!

Like I said, time is precious and I was a bit lazy when cutting the top. In my desperation to get it done in by bedtime I folded the fabric in half and in half again to cut the front and back at the same time. Sheer madness not only on stripes, but jersey stripes!!!! The front is fine, but the back has a slant to the hem. Not bothered though, as this will be hidden from my view.

My main gripe with jerseys is that I never know how to finish the edges. Zoe has included some tips for such things in her instructions which include my current favourite, the zig zag. I have started using a zig zag on my sewing machine to topstitch all jersey hems and I must say that I am more than happy with it. I don't overlock these edges first as that adds to the bulk.

The stars aligned with this pattern and everything seems to have gone swimmingly. Forgot to mention that the pattern is made up of only 11 pieces, so ridiculously easy to put together.

I love Zoe and I love this pattern! I'm going to stop myself from gushing too much about it and her, but I think that Zoe is an inspiration to so many sewing bloggers and certainly to me. It's so exciting that she has taken the step to release this pattern and I really wish her all the success in the world.

If you like what you see then don't forget the pattern release date on the 3rd October!

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Maya pattern release soon!

For those of you who don't know, I have been working on a dress making pattern for the last few months. I can't tell you how excited I am about this. Well actually it's a mixture of excitement and nerves really, but no pain no gain and all that!

It has been my wish to design in some capacity for a while now, but I have struggled with finding a suitable outlet or path to channel this ambition. I graduated from a fashion and textiles degree several years ago now (ok, more than several) and kind of got caught up with needing to pay bills and not being able to explore working in a creative field and it's not until now that I am open to the possibilty that this could happen. So that's what I am doing. I really want to produce dress patterns that I would be happy wearing and that I would return back to again and again. Basically, I am designing clothes that I would be happy to have in my wardrobe!

Here is a taster of how this pattern looks made up!

I have called this pattern Maya referring back to my Central American heritage. My mum and her family are from Belize and my great grandmother was a Mayan Indian, so there you go! The style also has alot in common with traditional central American dress, as like the Huipil it is wide and loose. It has a kimono cap sleeve with a wide neck and a load of variations in lengths and plain or button front. If you want a basic, easy woven tee or a basic dress that can be dressy or casual then this is the pattern for you!

I shall explain more about the pattern and provide a few more pics when it is released in a couple of weeks time. I am aiming to have it released on Monday the 6th October. I would have released it sooner, but I am away the week before, so figure that would be the worst idea ever!

Anyway, I'm not sure what to expect from this, but I'm hoping that if I like it then someone else will! If it's a slow grower then that's fine and if it's a mega success then brilliant, but if it's a massive flop then at least I tried!

Friday, 5 September 2014

Print swap - what I swapped and got!

The print swap is now complete and exchanged! So, what did we swap?

I printed on a cotton lawn fabric that I dyed using a pale blue dylon machine dye. I then stamped with my home made stamps using white, navy and black ink. I chose to keep the colours fairly neutral (well, my neutral anyway) and was as random with the print as I could be. It's quite hard to be random though, when you are conciously trying to be!

Seeing as the fabric was a little on the narrow side I printed 1.5 metres to send out. The print is not perfect and the stamps are patchy, but that's what hand printings all about isn't it? Rather than being too particular about the appearance of each stamp I just had fun and stamped, stamped, stamped. After several recent failures I heat fixed in the tumble dryer, which seems pretty fool proof.

It's got a bit of a 50's vibe to the shapes I think. Not intended, but definitely my favourite era for prints, so I'll go with that!

 Now onto the really good stuff...the print that I received! The lovely Carrie from 'oh, she dabbles' sent me this!

The impatient little madam that I am forgot to take lots of really good photos of Carries print before cutting it up, but here are some pictures of it made up. I did not want this consigned to the stash pile, as I knew 'the fear' would set in about cutting it if I let it lie.

This top is a 'sorbetto' hack. I had intended to use an alternative pattern, but as that wasn't happening I downloaded this and got altering instead. The stripes were printed down the fabric, but this fabric seems to stretch in all directions, so I cut it so the stripes went across (obviously, you're looking at it)

 Here are some more illustrative photos of what the top looks like on, although I confess that I am not feeling very much like appearing in front of the camera at the moment, what with a teething baby impairing my sleep and the fact that I am eating for Britain, but this top does not express it's shape very well on a hanger or even a mannequin.

As you can see this is hardly recognisable as a sorbetto any more, but that's what it started life as. I basically closed the dart to flare the front slightly and took the side shaping out to make it a straighter seam. I then added in the same flare and seam adjustment to the back for balance. The sleeves are just 2 semi circles cut from the remainders of the fabric.

I've found it really difficult to photograph both of these prints and translate the true beauty of the hand work that has gone into them, but they are really lovely and I am so pleased with the fabric I was sent. I was super suprised by the fact it was jersey. It didn't even enter my tiny brain to use a stretch fabric, but that's probably because I don't use it that much. I did try to break myself into jersey earlier in the year, as I generally don't feel confident sewing it, but this was the most enjoyable stretchy sew I have ever made!

Was the swap worth it?

Definitely and it's got my mind buzzing with all sorts of ideas on how to decorate my fabrics from now on. I'm feeling ultra inspired and really think that this is the next step for dress makers who really want to add a bit more identity to their hand made wardrobes.

I'll post a round-up of everyone elses prints once they have been revealed, but if you can't wait that long and you haven't already seen it then hop on over to Katies blog to see what she and Lucy swapped!

I'll just quickly share how I finished the edges, because I love it. I never feel I get a good enough neck or hem edge to stretchy's, so I went for a more relaxed finish with this. The print is kind of cool and a bit washed out looking, so I went for an unpolished binding.

I cut some strips of the plain jersey. I didn't measure, but I guess they are approx 1", maybe 1.5"

I simply folded it over the edge of the armhole whilst sat at the machine trying to make sure that the edge of the top was in the centre of the strip

I pulled the strip slightly, but not the top and stitched. I used a narrow zig zag stitch to top stitch

I just cut it off and overlapped slightly at the armhole seam and did the same for the neck edge ending at a shoulder seam.

Once it was tried on a few times and generally pulled about the binding edges all curled up nicely and have a sort of ready-to-wearness about them...

why is the colour so drained out? Grrr!
For the bottom hem and sleeves I simply overlocked using just 3 threads on my overlocker for a tidy, but not over done finish.

So, that's it! I'll so a round up of everyone elses prints wants they are all out there and in the words of Miranda's mum "such fun!"