Sunday, 2 July 2017

The Tracy Dress

I'm gonna tell you about my friend Tracy. There are people you meet who are positive and encouraging. There are people who when you just want to give up and hibernate are the kind voice urging you to try again tomorrow. There are people who inspire your darkly cynical disturbed little heart. Tracy is one of these people. 

So Tracy knowing my love of African Wax print kindly brought me some lengths back when she went home to Zimbabwe for a family wedding. Ideally she would have taken me with her but no one is perfect. When she gave me the fabric she apologised for the lack of colour, at the time I was dressed in top to toe black, grey and navy. Colour isn't really my 'thing'.

Hand blind stitched armholes. Only the best for Tracy.

This was the longer of the two lengths and I decided immediately it needed to be an Anna dress. Having made a couple of Anna dresses now I realise that there's too much ease in the pattern across my shoulders causing the neckline to bag out. I corrected it with this version and I'm really happy with the fit. It's also taught me a helpful fix as it's a problem I've noticed with a few patterns which have a higher neckline.

It was very important to me I made something that would do Tracy proud. Having jumped on many a suitcase on a return flight I know weight allowance is tight so I appreciated her taking the time to find and bring me back fabric. Going out to tea with her once it was complete she told me it made her look at the pattern with renewed interest so I think mission accomplished.

My example of wabi sabi. Nothing is perfect and I am no exception. I overlocked my seam to the body of the dress. Doh! Fairly happy the repair (rapid zig zag stitch over the hole) is not too obvious.

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Un-bear-ably cute

I'm not a big kiddie person; a big kid yes but a kiddie person, no. There are a few exceptions to this as there are in all things. One of these exceptions is my previously mentioned nephew. This project comes as a result of his rather fine Mother requested I make a memory teddy out of his old baby grows. You're darn tooting I will! 

She gave me these four baby grows. Obviously as there's two white this needed to be the body and then the greyish one contrasting bits like the pads of hands and feet. The zebra one however as soon as I saw it I knew teddy needed to be able to dress up. I did initially play with the idea of forming an actual zebra head but once I stopped drinking the battery acid I realised this was madness. A brief googling of zebra hoodies later and popping a mane in the hood was the new plan. 

The pattern is from a lady called Joy is available for free with a tutorial here. I hadn't expected how big it would be when all printed out and I realised rapidly that I did not have another fabric for it. If I had read all the way down Joy's tutorial I would have realised the pattern made a teddy 18" high! I never read to the bottom and have yet to recognise why this is a bad idea. Anyway a quite trip to the photocopier later to reduce the scale down to 65% and we have a much more manageable pattern. 

Baby grows take some taking apart I tell you! Funny considering how built to last they are when they'll only be worn a couple of weeks, tops. Oh but how soft though?!? I was vaguely concerned my nephew would never get to see teddy as my mother took quite a shine to cuddles with him.

His eyes are safety eyes which were the devil's own job to attach. I had to use heavy duty pliers to attach them and as a result slightly scratched them. Sorry teddy I'll get you on the waiting list for cataract surgery. The mouth and nose I embroidered on with well embroidery thread actually.  

The hoodie is very haphazard as it's self drafted. You know this because it didn't occur to me to draw shoulders in my mock up attempt. I didn't have quite enough fabric to do all of the hoodie in the zebra print so used the contrast fabric to make the back. I also re-purposed the cuffs of the baby grow to make the sleeves cuffs. The mane was wool looped over a piece of sellotape and basted on to the seam allowance of the hood. I imagine there is more straight forward way of going about this but it didn't occur to me. The hood I couldn't really work out how to make it actually enclose the head so I just whacked a bunch of darts in it and called it good. 

Hanging out with the other wild animals
All in all I'm fairly happy with how he turned out and from the photos I've seen of him with the main man he's happy with the finished result too.

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Me made man

Ok so today I'm not going to post a round up of the week. My instagram photos are all taken in my bedroom mirror which is too dark and not the world's best photos. Until I up this game I'm gonna leave the daily photo. Still wearing daily me made though.

So instead I bring you the fella. He had his birthday last week so I decided to make him some shirts for his birthday. We go on honeymoon later in the year so he asked for some nice cool shirts to take away with him. I have now perfected the Colette Negroni pattern so I made him a few in delicious liberty print tana lawn which fortunately comes reduced from Abakhans.

I also made him model; though frankly the fella is a diva. Not content just to star but also he provided art direction along the lines of: 'I should really be wearing my hat for this look' or 'no I can't pretend to be potting plants, this is a fancy shirt and it won't look right'. What can I say, you can't argue with the talent.

One thing I fail to get my head around is that men's shirts button on the opposite side to women's. Yes this is because women's are designed for someone else to do up for you and therefore not as easy to do up yourself. Yes it means he struggles to do his shirts himself. No it probably isn't necessary to make a statement on feminine oppression in your husband's birthday present...

He picked the fabric prints himself. This one I don't think he expected the pears to be as large when he picked it but I think he's pretty happy with the finished result.

Took the photos a bit late in the day so they're a little shadow heavy.

Especially this shadow. That one follows him around everywhere.

As standard I only decided I was going to do this the week before his birthday. Sadly I was two days late delivering but I figure it was worth the wait.

This one is really similar to the shirt that I made him last year. He's a man who knows what he likes. It didn't occur to me to use my edge stitching foot until after I'd put the first set of pockets on so one has a double line of stitching. I am calling this a design feature.

My handsome man who is in no way awkward being made to pose for photos. Not awkward at all.... no siree bob.

I batch stitched all three shirts which is a much quicker way to work. Pity he didn't pick three patterns that I could use the same thread for. I just switched over to the green at each point that felt like a sensible stopping point.

I love this relaxed style of collar and he always looks like he's on his hols when he's wearing one.

 This one is my favourite fabric choice and button combination. The buttons all came from a mahooosive bag of buttons I got at an Abakhan sale. The fabric has a slight fade to the print so it's really hard to work out which is the right side. I fully expect I've right and wrong side facing throughout this shirt.

Sat amongst his pride and joy. At some point I'll talk about the garden because he does work so hard on it and it is a beautiful space.

I think this is my favourite photo. Man of mystery. What is he thinking? 'World peace;? 'The fortune 500'? 'Will this silly woman stop taking photos so I can get back to my plants'? Possibly.

Queen of Sheba
Bombay too hot for TV

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Musings on Me Made May week 1

Hi all.

So that's the first week of May done. I've worn me made every single day and only been late to post once. Two things that jump out at me looking at my round up is A. Fit and B. Crappy photography. I will work on the photography, probably not this year but it's something to think about for next.

I love the coco pattern. I like the random assortment of buttons I stitched on. Sometimes I wonder if it's a little bit children's TV presenter but then I realise I don't care. It was an early days make and it's still going strong. Fits nicely and even though it was made pre-overlocker has not needed any repairs.

This was not a good look let's face it. I've got the tie in a weird place and the top is less fitted so really only goes with more fitted bottoms. My drawstring trousers with it just makes me look utterly shapeless. They're both very simple patterns so look at me grinning like it's my first make. It isn't so no excuse.

The bruyere shirt is also a favourite. Deer and doe really don't go up to my size so I had to hack the living daylights out of this pattern. Also due to my ongoing issues of obliviousness about the size of my waist I sized it up too much. It's comfy and good for work though. 

I don't know why but a sleeved t-shirt under this make me think I look like Billy Joel in uptown girl. I don't know why I have this in my head as I just looked up the video and he is very obviously wearing a long sleeve shirt. Anyway the t-shirt is on because my next Rosa will definitely need a full bust adjustment. As a fix for this one I'll try adding a couple of buttons on the inside.

This is defintely an example of awful photography. You only know what I've got on cause I tell you. I'm fairly sure photographs shouldn't work that way. *sigh*

I'm not sure the bettine is a shape that really works on me. I'm beginning to think more structured items are much better. It's comfy and has big pockets though so I kind of think of it as my house coat. 

Now this is just lazy photography. Couldn't even be bothered to stand up so just took a photo of my lap. You deserve better. You really do. 

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

A Rosa by any other name...

Evening all. 

May I present to you my wearable muslin for the Rosa shirt dress. I can be a bit hit and miss with Tilly and the Buttons patterns. Patterns such as the Coco and the Rosa grab me right away. The Martha was a slow burn, I wasn't keen on the sample but I've seen other versions which have really appealed. That just goes to show the versatility of a sewing pattern. 

Then there's Marigold pattern which reminds me of the Spaced episode Dissolution:

Tim: I know. I look like a (naughty swear for lady parts) in a jumpsuit.
Daisy: Don't say that, Tim. That's a word that hates women.
Tim: What? (naughty swear for lady parts)?
Daisy: No, "jumpsuit" 

Just a joke as obviously there's nothing wrong with the pattern it's just not my taste as I categorise it in the 'trendy'. Yep I used the word trendy. I went there. 

The Rosa however is exactly to my taste and I was really excited when it was realised. Especially when I saw the purple cord shirt dress version Tilly made herself. I wanted one just like it but first off needed to make a muslin because as a busty lass the button down can be a tricksy beast. It's sleeveless because maybe the muslin idea came to be me at the last minute and then just maybe I only had enough fabric to make it sleeveless. The colour scheme came from googling paint matches cause frankly I'm winging this most of the time.

I love the piping in the princess seams and yoke. I did debate whether adding it to the pockets was too much but then though sod it why not. I did draw the line at the collar. As we all know you pipe collars or pocket, never both...

The armholes are bound with bias binding. It's a technique I've had difficulties with in the past but I'm quite pleased with how smooth this one looks. Initially there was a bit of wrinkling but that calmed down with enough steam.

My only stumbling point was the back yoke. I cut a little too far in when turning at the point so had to stitch again further across to prevent an exposed edge which makes it unbalanced. Though as with all questions of errors in my work I ask myself would anyone who I didn't tell about the problem notice it?....then I tell people about it. 

Sunday, 30 April 2017

In the merry merry month of May.

 Tomorrow is the first day of May and that means it's Me Made May time again. A time when makers across the land make pledges to wear their own handiwork through the month of may. 

Cookie Blouson and given away to a colleague who liked it 

With that in mind I needed to consider what my pledge this year would be. I looked back over my instagram posts and found some of the garments I made are no longer with me. Either they didn't fit right, the construction was dodgy or they just didn't feel like me.

Sencha blouse finished and although I'm not sure I'm keen on the cut it will stay with me forever as the fabric has the same name as me. Well it did before I was married...

It feels like each time I participate that there should be progress which I suppose is towards the ultimate goal of making all of my own clothing. I'm not entirely convinced I want to go all the way down that road but knowing that I could make them all if I wanted to. My pledge last year was at least one handmade item per day which I would record daily in instagram (which I achieved) and blog once a week (which I did not....In fact I didn't blog again until 2017).

The barrel loads of teeny pieces cut out for two flower girl dresses

The year before I had made a similar pledge of one item per day but gave up after day three as I just wasn't there yet. I also couldn't be bothered to take the photos with my camera but fortunately I find instagram much more achievable.

Did finish the Bruyere and it gets regular use and love.

So where does this stand for a older wiser 2017 Humbug? One item per day is definitely achievable so how do I push this forwards? Two items? In the end here is the pledge I make. Lets see how we go.

I did finish this but I don't think it was in May. The fit on the armholes was crap though so off to the charity shop it went.

'I, Amy of, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May '17. I endeavour to wear at least one handmade item and at least three times a week two each day for the duration of May 2017. I will try to complete my unfinished jumper and the garments I have cut out ready to be stitched. I will instagram once a day and round up once a week' 

Looking at the photos above I should also probably work on taking better photographs 😒

This photo is nice though....the top didn't survive as the fit on the bust was AWFUL but the picture is pretty.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Outlander Skirt

If you'll excuse me I'm about to go a bit hipster on you. I was in to Outlander before it was a cool. Before it was a TV series full of attractive people with improbably good teeth.

I had been given the first book to read by my Aunt and Uncle when I was a student staying with them in Oz. I spent a truly sweltering day sat obsessively trying to finish it before my flight home, panicking that my baggage was likely to be over the weight limit (which it was).

I became entirely hooked especially as the protagonist was a nurse. Their job is like my job! She also spent most of her time getting up to ridiculous rumpy pumpy without being entirely spineless and insipid *eyeballs Fifty Shades of Grey disapprovingly*.

So when it came out on TV I was all over it especially when I realised I had Amazon Prime. I have absolutely no recollection of signing up for this but I will tolerate the machinations of corporations in this instance. Some binge watching later and I was ready to coat myself in woad, wrap myself in tartan and run across a field bellowing 'FREEEEEEEEEEEDOM'. I am aware that's from Braveheart what are ya gonna do?

So on to the sewing. If not running around in woad I did at least want to have on the tartan (also my body weight in woollens but that's for another day). I already had the Grace sewing pattern free from Love Sewing; View A being one of my bridesmaid's dress. This skirt was intended as a quick palate cleanser after the more complex Archer popover....which was also tartan :)

I love this skirt. The fabric is a polyester and viscose tartan suiting fabric from Minerva Crafts. It's a nice medium weight fabric with a good drape. I love this fabric and it'll make a nice transitional spring and autumn piece. During sewing this I learnt the ongoing lesson that always leaves me as soon as I finish i.e. might be a good idea to overlock your fabric pieces before you sew them together as doing so once you have sewn them together is an almighty pain in the arse.

I also realise that I have absolutely no idea where my waist is or what size it is. This one I tried to fit to around my belly rather than to my actual waistline. This turns out to look like you've wandered out in your grandmother's skirt and not in a cool retro way. So 4 1/2" removed inches and the skirt sitting at my natural waist later and it's working much better. Also means I can put my hands in my pockets without slouching like a hungover teenager.

So Jamie I'm suitably attired, head over at your earliest convenience.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

The Cadillac of Skirts

The great thing about sewing your own clothing (apart from discarding all size labels) is that when observing a garment on someone else that you like you can go off and recreate one for yourself. Which is precisely where this Grainline Moss skirt in green pleather comes from. 

For anyone who doesn't know pleather is plastic leather. Now although I'm not against the concept of leather altogether I'd rather not sew with it if it doesn't feel necessary. This fabric is and ebay purchase and is intended to be used to make car seats hence it is the Cadillac of skirts. I'll be honest when I set out to do this I really didn't know how it was going to go. When I pre-washed the fabric it felt very stiff and I was concerned it'd be like trying to make a skirt out of a cardboard box. None the the less I persisted.

Lovely Liberty Isle of Wight cotton to line the waistband.

Stitching it actually came together a lot easier than I thought it might. I used scraps of fabric for the pocket bags and the waistband facing. The fly zipper was the only place where I got in to difficulties. It's serviceable but not terribly neat but to be honest I stitched a skirt out of something intended to be used in cars; I'm gonna cut me some slack. My machine didn't particularly have any trouble handling the fabric while using a leather needle (a needle with a specific tip for piercing leather rather than one made of leather) apart from making the button hole. She did not like doing that. 

Look how terrible it is! It's not so bad from a distance though so I not gonna get bogged down in it.

As is fairly standard for the Moss skirt I added about 3" to the bottom as I don't like my skirts too short and I didn't really want the addition of an extra panel.

From a colleague to me in a slip of a needle. Ain't sewing grand?