Saturday, 25 March 2017

Shoes for summer!

I have been thinking about warmer weather and my long lasting RTW sandals have finally bitten the dust! I normally eek out sandals for a fair few years by getting them re-soled etc, but alas their time was up! I do have other warm weather shoes, but just not a really good comfy flat pair.

I have not made any more shoes since my first and last pair here, but I have been thinking about it and forming ideas for construction during that time. I find that the time in between is really important for me to assess what I learnt from a task. What I did and didn't like and how I what lessons I would like to carry forward.

One of the things that has really struck me since my first pair is how I can fit this new skill into my life without it causing too much disruption. The tools and glue traditionally required for shoe making is not at all child friendly and seeing's as I'm with children for the majority of time I needed to find a way to make this more suitable. First off the glue! This is the worst bit, because although I know you can get friendlier less fumey glues the one I have is pretty noxious. I decided to be done with glue altogether as it seems too grim and I read somewhere that one of the reasons that shoes can't be easily recycled is because the components can't be separated easily. I am now using the power of the needle and thread and nails in it's place (with one tiny exception that I shall confess to later). I have also kept the tools as basic as possible and easy to store at my design/sewing space up high.

Another thing I find useful with many skills I've learnt is to research as much as possible about how to do things properly, try a few different methods out and then try and forget about what you've learnt in order to formulate a method that suits you and your style of working. Without going into the ins and outs of how I made each shoe, I basically adjusted my designs to suit my growing skills and constructed them in the easiest and most solid way I am personally capable of doing. I believe it took quite some time to figure out how I could achieve my end goal, but I am really happy with the results!

Here is the first pair I finished and these are my dino sandals ;-) The uppers and soles are all stitched together, which I was able to do easily by having the feature top 'spike' design. I sewed this seam last leaving the whole shoe open until the end. The stacked heels and rubber heel tip are nailed in place. The main shoe sole rubber is glued, which was the only bit I compromised on really. I hate that I did and I have since sourced some short shoe nails to be able to nail the sole in future. I have no idea how well these will hold up without glue, so the testing will be in the wearing, but they do feel pretty solid! The straight angles on the sole unit are an aesthetic I like, but are also much easier to cut satisfactorily neat, so serves a double purpose! The leather uppers are small pieces from a discontinued sample book (hence the non-matchiness) and the thick, whiter pieces of the sole and heel are some unknown leather scraps I bought off ebay. It is a large box of weird shaped offcuts that are probably of no use to anyone other than me! The yellow is not reclaimed in any way, but the thick leather is perfect for sturdy shoe parts and it is proving to be a great investment! The crepe rubber for the sole is from here.

The next pair I am making (not finished yet) are my favourite so far and definitely the most practical. All stitched so far and they will have a crepe sole nailed on at the end. The design is inspired by historical shoes with an unfussy fit and fastening. The back has been elasticated for a snug fit and the thick yellow leather from before is used as a heel counter. I am just finishing up the second one ready for the soles.

So that is me so far. Really enjoying my shoe journey and I am enjoying the breaks as well as the practice as this is a long term development of a skill. I can only really put my ideas into practice when I need or want a new pair of shoes, so it is fairly meditative in a way.

Anyway, that is all from me for now. Byeeeeeee x

Friday, 10 February 2017

Harriet bra

Hello hello!!!

I have not been doing any personal sewing for so long I have forgotten all about my blog, but I have broken my silence and been lured in by the brand spanking new and fabulous Harriet bra pattern by Cloth Habit. I love the Cloth Habit blog and it is one of those ones which I have read from start to finish as I didn't want to miss anything useful or inspiring, so when Amy released her latest pattern I bought it right away.

I have made two versions since and this pattern is probably the only bra pattern I ever need EVER. You may remember my experimentation with bra sewing and drafting over the summer which gave me loads of great experiences with construction and fit, well that has been super informative when beginning with this pattern. The bra block I drafted over this time is great to use as a comparison when selecting my size. I measured myself against the chart and came up as a 34C, but I often find bands a bit too snug from the patterns I've made up so I went for a 36B instead for my first Harriet.

The fit is good and after wearing it for the first half of the week is so comfortable I forget I'm wearing it, but it is probably not as snug as it could be. I needed some minor tweaks to the cups anyway, but I think the bra band is very true to size, so I could go smaller. I absolutely love this version though, so it will get regular wear and I may even move the hooks inwards slightly if it starts to feel too loose. All elastics were dyed by me using Dharma Trading acid dye in 'Radioactive'. In fact I followed Amy's advice for dyeing elastic here.

The second version I made is this silk satin one.

Taking into account what I learned about the fit from my first lace one I went with the same cup size with adjustments, the next size down bra band with the 36B centre bridge as I have a wide gap there. Oh the beauty of making your own bras and learning why RTW is never comfortable!!! I completely altered the style lines on this one to create a princess seam cup without the top section. I really like and prefer this cup, but I made the curve too pronounced at first and some dodgy alterations I made mid construction meant I had to hide the seams with this grosgrain trim. So annoying as I really just wanted a plain navy bra. It's really beautiful and comfortable though, so I can't be too unhappy with that! Again I dyed everything myself to co-ordinate and used a foam lining to give a smooth shape.

Note - The seam on the foam was nice and flat before dodgy alteration...

I feel like this pattern has been a breeze to get the fit spot on which I don't know if this is because of all the work I did over the summer or what, but I really think this is a top quality pattern. I didn't follow the instructions, but I shall be making this a few more times over the coming months so I have a decent  selection in my drawer. The bras I made over the summer are in a box in my sewing room and have been mainly good for teaching me about bra making. My bra block is great to have and again I learnt a lot from making it, but it is mainly good for helping me assess fit and I don't love it as much as I love the Harriet.

So there you go. Gushing over and if you want to try making an underwired bra then you could do worse than trying this pattern!

P.S. photographing lingerie is really hard...