Monday, 2 October 2017

Slow fashion October

I have just come to the end of one Instagram challenge and have fallen straight into another. Last month I participated in House of Pinheiro's #sewphotohop which I usually take part in because it's light hearted and fun and this month I plan to dip in and out of slow fashion October, the brain child of Karen Templer. I enjoy this challenge and the discussions that arise from it. I am always considering how I can be more mindful in how I live and create and consume, but it's great sometimes to just air some of those views and opinions and get some feedback on how others feel and whether or not I can adjust my thinking to further my understanding of the topic.

I have taken to wearing a sort of uniform lately. Not a uniform in the sense of a boiler suit or a plain top and jeans, but a uniform of shapes or silhouettes I like to wear that is unintentionally formed of a limited colour palette. I tend to always stick with denim blues, orange, red, yellow, khaki green and anything with navy and white stripes or polka dots. There are other things in the mix, but I would say that this is fairly representative of what you would find inside my wardrobe.

I am kind of losing my train of thought a bit, but I guess what I'm getting to is that I have a well defined sense of style at this point and am able to easily identify if there is something lacking within the selection of garments I already have. This differs from past me as I used to like to have a lot of choice. Getting dressed for work or a night out was a fun experience and I never knew what I would be in the mood for. To accommodate this way of dressing I used to have shoes, bags, jewellery and clothes galore. Of course the clothes no longer fit since kids so most of that has been donated and the shoes (mostly heels) were never going to have the life they deserved as I tend not to enjoy teetering around after small people, so with an empty space I have been able to rebuild my wardrobe with what is relevant to my lifestyle now. I don't need to pack away seasonal clothes as I have room for it all to live together all year round and a lot of my things are fairly transitional anyway!

I am losing my train of thought again...

Sometimes when I hear the words "slow fashion" I think that this can be interpreted as something which has been sewn slowly or carefully. Of course it can be that, but this alone does not a successful garment make. Much more consideration is needed as to the proportions of the garment and how it will combine with everything else. Even details like topstitching or button selection can determine a garments success or failure. Our individual style is based on so many different elements and I really enjoy working my way through them all and stepping back to think about what works and what doesn't. On a whim I sewed up a back pack and a dressy dress last week to take away for the weekend. I picked patterns, fabrics, trims and finishes based on what I already know about myself and which are good quality, durable textiles. I don't mind confessing that I could have done with taking more time on both things to make them look spectacularly well finished, but they will still last as long as if I'd done that and I shall still enjoy them just as much (I shall blog these at a later date). It is slow fashion in the sense that they are timeless pieces in the context of my wardrobe space, but they did not take very long to make.

If I haven't worn something for a while, but still like whatever it is, I take the garment out and look at it to try and work out why I don't reach for it or what I can do to modify and make it more appealing. My Rose jacket that I made from a gorgeous ink denim from Merchant and Mills was screaming out to be worn. I didn't pre-wash the fabric as I didn't want to destroy the finish, but it was stiff as a board and felt too crunchy to wear. I bunged it in the wash last week and now I want to wear it all the time! It's gone lovely and soft and the colour is richer with more variation where it has worn on the edges.

Link to jacket pattern here!

Changes can be small. My aversion to wearing the jacket was very much led by my senses and how a fabric feels, which is definitely an important factor. I tend to sew mainly (not exclusively) with natural fibres as they are the ones I feel a warmth from and a happy connection to. I am trying to think about what the impact of the materials we are consuming and what we will be leaving behind, but we have so much responsibility regarding this in all areas of our lives that it certainly feels more than a tad overwhelming! To an extent I feel like rolling over and saying we are where we are and unless the whole world changes then there is no point in caring, but it does make me feel happier to be at least considering how we as a family can live better even though we are always going to leave a mark on this planet.

My fabric stash is fairly sizeable. The fact is that I have too much and there are definitely pieces I am no longer fond of. I am finding that sewing for others is a good way of working my way through it (school fundraisers and sewing for the family). I am not in a hurry to get rid, but it does bother me a little that I have pieces I don't love and I do buy fabric on top of what I already have. Funnily enough, the fabric I buy on top of what I already own tends to get used fairly rapidly as I buy for specific projects rather than in the past when I was always in a panic as if all the fabric would run out! I am finding it less of a burden than I used to, but although I have reduced the capacity of my wardrobe I am still failing dismally when it comes to my fabric. It is moving though and I can see the old and unloved pieces shifting slowly but surely.

Anyway, I am looking forward to the month ahead and listening to other peoples thoughts and figuring out ways I myself can improve my approach to life as a sewist, a designer and a consumer. Nobody's perfect, but at least we are trying to make a difference!

I have no idea if what I'm saying is at all cohesive, but ramble over. Follow the hashtag #slowfashionoctober on Instagram to follow the discussion!

Monday, 25 September 2017

pin-up harriett bra

I have had an idea for so long to make this bra (or something along these lines). In fact this vision has probably been the driving force behind wanting to learn how to make bras in the first place! Maybe not for this exact article, but for the pure reason to be able to make lingerie in the fabrics and colours I love with the detailing I find most appealing whilst knowing the shape is going to fit. My biggest gripe about shopping for such items is that feeling when you see all the pretty things and realise that only the one you liked the least actually suits your shape. Jeans and bras. They are the garments that never fail to disappoint!

I have long been influenced by vintage/retro lingerie and have been storing up ideas of how I can incorporate it into my own wardrobe. The styles I'm talking about are not "me" per se, but elements of them really are (if that makes any sense). I am a bit of a romantic I guess and I love the shiny salmon pink fabric and the topstitching that is synonymous with these styles, but wouldn't have a clue about how to wear or indeed feel confident enough to wear the quite accentuated bullet shapes. Of course, as well as actual vintage examples I also refer back to modern representations or re-issues.

Here are some of the pieces that have guided me.

A very crumpled original longline bra definitely steered my fabric choice. Being up close and personal I realised this is made of a much sturdier fabric than you'd imagine. I got a spot on match with some cotton backed corsetry satin. I believe this is the one I ordered!

You can see how the inside is finished with loads of twill tape. I love the inside as much as the outside!

The Jean Paul Gaultier corset/bodysuit famously worn by Madonna. This piece was actually my introduction to lingerie making. Whilst at university over 10 years ago I set about drafting a pattern and making a toile to match the original as closely as possible. It is obviously not an exact replica, but I look at it now and am pretty proud of it having had no previous experience of this type of construction. It has stood me in good stead and the research I did to get to that point has been something I have referred back to in my more recent lingerie endeavours.

This next one is a modern repro of a vintage style by Playtex. I just keep it for reference as, although pretty, is not me. I love all the details and the construction, but I find it too strappy and actually uncomfortable for a soft style.

So back to my make. I see this as a kind of graduation in a way. I have done a lot of work over the past year (starting here) getting to know my way around bra construction and pattern drafting as well as trying out different bought patterns. It has been rewarding in many ways and now I am in a place where I can pick and choose my construction method as well as pattern adaptions. I feel very at ease with the process. This bra definitely represents that. I just confidently cut into my fabric and set about constructing the whole thing carefully and considerately knowing that the end product would be fit for purpose. Of course there are elements I would like to refine (isn't there always?), but I wasn't rushing through it, desperate to find out if it had worked or not which can be the case when you are new to bra sewing. I am feeling very Zen... ;-)

I used a silk strip to encase the seams of the lower cups and lined the upper cup. I really wish I had covered the wire casing with silk or something (just being picky).

The prettiest bra straps and findings. I think the shop I got these from is now closed. Sorry!

Sorry if I've been a bit gushy, but I'm really pleased with this one! Learning the skills to make a good bra is not actually that hard and fitting is not as painful as you'd think. You can push yourself further if you want to, but you don't have to and it means you no longer have to endure the drudgery of bra shopping! FYI, this was made using the fabulous Harriet bra pattern by Cloth Habit. I suggest you read her blog from start to finish for her inspiring bra making journey! xxx

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Denim landers

Hi hi!

Following on from my last post about these Lander pants I dove straight in and made pair number 2. This time in a lovely, lovely denim from Merchant and Mills. I ordered a sample in this slightly washed blue and the darker colour and was surprised how much it feels like some non-stretch cone mills denim I bought. Sold!!!

I did take some of the length out of the length along the top of the trousers which was bunching around my waist in my wool pair and I think I'm done tweaking. Well, I am anyway because with two new pairs of trousers for winter I'm sort of done. Goal achieved! 

Not much to say. They are full length, but I'm pretty sure I will always wear them rolled up like this.

One thing to say about how I fitted these and my previous pair is that they are not over fitted. You can see more with the denim that there is a fair amount of room under my tummy, but I find this to be the most flattering and comfortable to wear on my figure. I think to aim for the picture on the envelope would be a mistake for me as I want the fabric to skim rather than pull and also want to create a nice shape rather than outline that particular area. Just something to mention about fitting considerations and preference.

I wonder if I should raise the pockets a little in future. Hmmm!

After wearing my wool pair and finding the waistband too susceptible to stretching out I decided to be cautious and reinforce the top line of the inner waistband with a topstitched cotton herringbone tape. It's great actually. It feels so sturdy and allows the bottom of the waistband to mould to my body a bit whilst the top line doesn't budge.

The gorgeous rust effect metal buttons were also from Merchant and Mills. A bit of a splurge, but I love them! They have a very early Hussein Chalayan vibe to them.

I did not line the pockets and finished the opening edge of the front pockets with a bias facing.

Lots of lovely topstitching in a thick cotton thread.

So back to the wool pair! I did go back and mend the stretching out waistband. This did mean abandoning the back waistband tabs, but this is so much better. The overlap on the front acts as a trouser waist stay and although it looks like Fort Knox to get in, it's really not fiddly ;-)

So worth the effort of going back and fixing because I know I will wear these a tonne (I am wearing them again now).

 Anyway, still nothing but love for this pattern x

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

True Bias Lander pant

Hi hi!

I just made a thing and had to blog it immediately because I'm so excited. The Lander pants pattern from True Bias came out over the weekend and I had some sewing time so the timing couldn't have been more perfect! The style is sooooo me and I have been checking out this cut in the shops for so long now. I am totally into the 70's/nautical vibe whatever the year and whatever else is "trending", so these are a worthy investment.

Because I knew I wanted to make this pattern work I was willing to put the hours in to making the appropriate adjustments. This fitted around the top type of trouser is never going to fit me straight out the envelope and certainly doesn't look great when I try RTW pairs on, but I made a toile to see how the original fit was working and straight away added more length into the rise. Once I had toiled with the added length, things were looking a lot better. 3 inches took the top of the trousers to my natural waist (minus the waistband), but my final adjustments were actually 3cm longer than the original pattern.

I wish I'd taken pictures of the toiles along the way, but you know how it goes and I was caught up in how I was going to make it work, but basically I needed a full tummy and thigh adjustment on the front trouser leg which meant adding some width in the front and extending the front crotch curve. The back was fun to do (I'm being serious) and I made a full calf adjustment because the trousers were getting caught on that area and took some length out of the back centre leg length because I had extra fabric under my bottom. Basically scooping out the back crotch sorted this with loads of shifting and pivoting of seam allowances. The below diagram shows the original pattern in pink and my new pattern pieces in black. Basically the crotch curve has an extreme slope from the front to back in order to fit my body. I really enjoyed this process of analysis and because I was on my own I just did one tiny tweak at a time.

The back calf adjustment looked like this...

Here are some scary pictures of me in leggings to show all my bumpy bits. Really sorry you can just see my pants through the fabric, but if you have a similar body to mine then maybe it will help you relate!

Probably some further tweaks could happen for future versions, but I'm pretty stoked! Certainly the waist needs some tweaks, because it is definitely too roomy, but I resolved that with some epaulette things in keeping with the overall look. Also a smidge more length out the centre of the back leg length and top of trouser wouldn't hurt. I don't know, maybe they are good enough. I shall wear these a lot as they are a brilliant match with my overall style.

I forgot to mention that I made these with a wool suiting fabric. I wanted a winter version that would fall nicely and this fabric was already in my stash. So pleased with the wool/pattern combo. Here are some close ups of the details to give you a better feel for the fabric. Can I just say, that I was so nervous about the button front fly. I thought I would feel self conscious drawing attention to my tummy, but it is definitely a new favourite finish. In love with this detail and it's so easy!

I lined the back pockets with some shirting from my husbands old shirt because I was working with wool. I really makes a nice finish and means the pockets won't stretch out.

Beautiful brass anchor buttons from Loop.

A hook and eye inside the waistband to help with any gaping.

The fly shield is faced with the shirting for comfort. I considered facing the waistband too, but I guess I got lazy. I also wish I had bound the seams, but the next wool pair I make will be all bells and whistles.

So that's been a whirlwind sewing romance and I really think this is a great pattern. I probably always say that about a pattern I try, but I mean it! I always expect to have to do adjustments on a trouser pattern, but I'm not always willing to put the time in if I don't feel the love right away. These were worth it for me. I shall wear these a load and see if anything particularly screams out to me as a tweak for future iterations. Love, love, love!!!

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Floral maxi skirt

Hey hey, it's me again just one week since my last post!!!

This time I have made a skirt and it is self drafted, but dead easy.

I found this fabulous floral print cotton on ebay a few weeks ago and had to cut into it straight away. I bought 3 metres and used pretty much all of it in this skirt.

Ok, so it's self drafted so you can't have the pattern, but you can make one if you have a little experience with drafting or altering patterns! Just pop on over to the BHL website and use their awesome circle skirt app to get some waistband measurements and you're off!

I split mine into 7 panels (divide half circle into 8 panels and join 2 of these together for centre back panel) as per below.

Here it is all joined and laid out on the floor.

I created some pockets that get sewn in with the front side panels (which are a little too low unfortunately, oops!)...

and also a centre front button placket. How awesome are these buttons by the way? I have been ordering buttons from Textile Garden for some time now as Maggie has the most beautiful selection. I always seem to find the perfect match in her shop!

The skirt is so swishy and comfortable and I made the back waistband elasticated for some leeway when it comes to comfort and fit.

Not much else to say really. I French seamed everything for a quality finish and I am loving having a colourful floral print in my wardrobe.

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Simple summer knit - windlass

Hello hello!!! 

I think this might be the first blog post of the year so far. How did that happen? (This is so wrong. Just checked and it's my third post...). I guess like everyone else I have been documenting my general craftiness on Instagram, but also I haven't been working on many personal makes. I have been feeling generally under the weather since Easter (although much better now) and also using any spare moments to work on new designs (yes they are coming) so have not had much to talk about, but I all of a sudden do have some garments I can actually share which is pretty exciting.

Today is a knitted garment as I am very successfully incorporating knitting into my daily life lately. It is making me so happy! I had a real hankering for some summer knits, so set about knitting with a soft and cool cotton/linen/silk blend yarn. It came on a cone (from ebay) and was a natural colour, but I hand dyed it this gorgeous blush pink. The pattern is a heavily modified windlass from Pom Pom mag, which caught my eye. I had intended to knit the lovely stitch pattern on the top of the bodice, but as I was knitting the body I just wanted to continue the plain design.

The length is cropped as per my mods with a level hem and shortened armscye. I also knit in the round as I was nervous about creating a beautiful side seam on such a plain garment.

I totally love it and I was completely happy with it, but then I had an idea which involved gold.

Yep, I printed some gold foil spots onto my hand knit that I spent hours making. Once the idea happened I couldn't not do it. No fear, just eager anticipation ;-) I ordered the foil and adhesive from here and simply painted on the adhesive and heat set the foil.

Ding, ding, ding!!! Over the moon happy!

The perfect earrings became mine (bought from independent maker Freya Alder) and were worn with this top last night. I do not subscribe to a konmari lifestyle, but I believe these things fit the bill nicely. My new top and jewellery fill me with nothing but joy and happiness.

I am now working on a second windlass tank in green which will hopefully be finished soon should the sun ever come back. See you again soon hopefully xxx