Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Hands of Horror

I finally turned my custom made fabric into a piece of clothing! And I love it! I posted about my trip to Contrado - the fabric printing factory in North London - last April. It only took me unttil November to cut into the fabric and 3 months more to show you the finished item. I would say 7 months sitting in the stash is actually a fairly quick turn around in my cycle of fabric purchasing and making. I've recently used a blue sweater jersey that I have no recollection of purchasing, which I think must mean it's been in the stash for more than 10 years. Crikey.

Anyway. I wanted to make a shirt as I had in mind replicating the position of the hands of this collar broach by Buried Diamond. I'd already used this 60s shirt pattern Simplicity 5284...

 ...redrafting the front pieces to include an extra 3 inches of fabric on each side, which I gathered where they were joined to the yoke. I found the bottom edge of the shirt a bit blunt and I wanted to lengthen it and add a curve rather than a squared off hem. 

But I only had 1.5m of fabric to work with, and that strip was only 1m wide! I also had a very distinct repeat print, and I wanted to do my best to make it match across the front. So, the pattern placement puzzle began.

I found I didn't have enough to add extra width - I actually didn't even have enough to add enough for seam allowance at the centre front  - but I had enough length to draft an extra scoop at the bottom.

I loved my fabric when I saw it come out of the printer and I loved it even more when I could see it cut into the pieces that would form a garment. Argh! I possibly love this more than all other fabric. Sorry all other fabric. This is my scratch sewing space that I threw together as a priority after moving to a new flat in September.

Here you can see my work around for not having enough fabric to hem the vertical front edges... I encased them in bias binding! I also chickened out of doing real button holes as I got the terror that I'd mess up. The fabric is actually quite thick and has a high poly content and my needles were already objecting. So I went with hand sewn press studs. And I really messed up some of the hand sewing! I've now made a promise to myself that this is the last time I use press studs instead of real buttons. Gotta up that professionalism and step out of my fastening comfort zone.

And here is the finished shirt, which I love, despite a few flaws in the making including some gathers in one of the sleeve caps. I'm calling it the Hands of Horror shirt as a colleague said "Did you know you have a pair of bloody hands creeping up towards your throat?" 

Warning; I look pretty somber in all these photos as I took them on my communal roof terrace at 7am on a Monday, there was zero sunshine, I'd been up since 5am and I was worried one of my neighbours would come up for a cigarette and see me prancing around in front of a camera. My serious expression does not reflect my feelings about my shirt.

I love that pleat at the back and it gives the shirt a nice fullness. Look how white the British winter sky is! I am starting to forget that the sky is blue behind that solid wall of cloud.

Though here I am pretending I'm sunbathing, just so I don't forget how to do it.

I wear my Hands of Horror shirt once a week to work now, and sometimes I wear it on the weekend too. Typically I wear it with these velvet leggings that I also whipped up late in 2017 using this  amazing tutorial to self draft by Miranda at Live Free Creative.

The icing on the homemade outfit-cake is this Simplicity 1108 cardigan, another recent make that has become a wardrobe staple. I bought the fabric from Abakhan when I was on a work trip to Stoke-On-Trent. It's a really thick wooly stretch fabric. 

Inspired by the fabric, I looked for a cocoon-like cardigan pattern and came across Simplicity 1108. It's actually meant to be a kimono top made from chiffon or any other thin floaty fabric, but I decided to have a go with my super-thick wool. I was persuaded to press the 'buy' button when I saw Sew My Time's amazing version. 

It's a very simple batwing shape really. In fact you can imagine you are indeed bat woman when wearing an all-black version and standing on a roof.

Here's the full triple homemade combo; shirt, cardigan and leggings. I feel really proud when I wear this as it's head-to-toe made by me and when I add my homemade coat and scarf I am practically crying about the fact that sewing is so awesome. The leggings are made from an absolutely beautiful velvet jersey from Fabric Godmother. I cannot recommend this fabric enough. It sews up beautifully - I sewed it using my bog standard Janome sewing machine, before Santa (my Mum and Dad) got me an overlocker for Christmas - it feels lovely on the inside and my legs are so strokable it's sometimes a toss up between stroking the cats and my own legs.

I see many more plain black fabrics with interesting textures in my sewing future, as well as more boldly printed fabrics as my boyfriend bought me a voucher to spend at Contrado for Christmas. Woo hoo!

Sunday, 27 November 2016

DIY bikini

In classic me style, I'm writing a blog post about a homemade bikini when the last of the crispy orange leaves are being blown from the trees by cold winds in London and the mornings start with breath visible in frosty air. I'm hoping at least one person from the Southern Hemisphere is reading this and feeling it is seasonally appropriate.

Anyway. I made a bikini! I made it back in May and I have worn it a lot. Here I am wearing it in Spain in September.

The lycra was one of those spur-of-the-moment purchases that totally reordered my to-sew list. I saw it buried in a busy shelf at Dalston Mill when I went to buy some buttons there and I had to have it. It's kind of a galaxy marble print and I am a big fan of rocks and outer space so it couldn't be left behind. I hadn't planned on making myself swimwear until that moment but suddenly a bikini was on the cards.

I looked around at bikini patterns but decided to base the top on my good old Marks & Spencers one that I've been wearing for at least 6 years! I consider it to be perfect for my flat chest as it has secret sewn in cups as well as some tiny pleats that add volume. I bought some cups online but when they arrived I um-ed and ah-ed about whether I should sew them in or not. They were a little on the stiff side and it felt quite strange to be building myself fake boobs.

I've been very self-conscious about having a flat chest since I was a teenager and basically didn't develop breasts when all other girls did. It affected my posture and the clothes I chose to wear. Throughout my teenage years I would wear mega padded bras and I even tried taking some herbal pills that were supposed to make boobs bigger (yeah, obviously a scam but you'll try anything when you're 18 and feel like your body isn't good enough)

Then in my early 20s I saw a documentary on TV which totally changed my outlook. The whole thing consisted of women being interviewed about their relationship with their chests. Topless. There were women of all ages, shapes and sizes all with wonderful, unique boobs, some big, some wonky and some tiny like mine! This made me ease up on my self-boob-criticism. I decided I'd look for none-sculpted bikini inspiration. I really liked this simple one from & Other Stories above and got stuck in to trying to draft something similar.

I made a toile in some scrap fabric. It was way to small so I added some extra shape to the cups.

I printed off the Seamwork Magazine Dakota bikini bottoms but made a few adjustments. I took a couple of inches of the height thanks to Beth from Sew DIYs recommendation, and I cut to a wider size at the leg as my bum is surprisingly big for a small person.

I also took away some of the shape at the leg hole on the back and after cutting them out scooped out a lot at the front too. So... yeah this is almost totally different from the pattern!

I don't have an overlocker so I finished most of my edges with elastic and zig zag stitch.

I wore it first of all on my family holiday in Britain in May. There was an unheated outdoor pool and I took the bikini for a swim every day. But it really came into it's own in Spain. If you haven't been to Spain I highly recommend it. It looks like this:

And the view from our pool looked like this:

And sometimes like this!

The day we did our bikini photo shoot was the only day of the holiday where the sun hid behind the clouds and it actually started to rain. So this is one of the only sunny moments. (I fell in love with that tree.)

And here's a close up.

Oooooh you want to see the bikini, not the tree!

And the back. Oo look at that view. 

But bikinis are not meant for dry land, they're meant for under the water, so take a deep breath...

I'm proud of 'going natural' on the top and feel like an unstoppable mermaid in my bikini. My first foray into sewing swimwear has made me want to make more.

What are your favourite swimwear patterns?

Rosie xx

Sunday, 6 November 2016

Sew Dots - you smashed it!

Sewists! Enormous thanks and massive high fives to you! With your usual energy and verve you got stuck right into the 'Sew Dots, Raise Lots' challenge and donated a massive £781.29 to the RNIB. It's a mighty amount - with Gift Aid it's actually £898 - and you should all feel so proud of yourselves. The money will go to RNIB to help them deliver essential services for people experiencing sight loss. Part of RNIBs mission is to spread the word that they exist, so that they can reach the people that need them, and you have helped to do that throughout October. Between us, we reached 39,773 people through our #sewdots posts on social media. That means more than thirty nine thousand individuals became aware of the #sewdots challenge and hopefully it's purpose. This is wonderful evidence of collective power, and I thank you so much for being part of this.

RNIB have made a great video of people talking about their experiences of sight loss, to tackle some of the assumptions that exist around blindness. Please do watch or listen and share!

Without further ado, I'd like to announce that the randomly selected winner of the grand sewing prize is Linda Hinds with her beautiful dotty Karen Drape Dress. Yaaaaaaaay Linda! I haven't been able to get hold of Linda to let her know about her awesome luck, so if anyone knows where she can be found apart from Instagram please tell me, or tell her!

I am so glad that I handed over the choosing of a winner to a computer, which thankfully as of this day have no emotions. I wouldn't have been able to personally select a winner as every single entry into Sew Dots was absolutely amazing. I was pretty much glued to my phone for the whole month making yelps of amazement and joy when another incredible creation popped up. I spent the evening of October 31st in the cinema and I did have to keep sneaking off to the toilet so I could make yelps of amazement and joy in private!

Anyway, you are all great. Here's just a small selection of some of the amazing things you made displaying a huge diversity of dottiness.

There was innovative mixing of large and small dots from Gabby at Gabberdashery who used this cool print to make a Tilly & The Buttons Coco dress that has a distinct 1920s feel in my mind...

... and from Sheona at Sew Shesho.

There were simple monochrome dots...

...cute blue dots...

... smart dots...

...turquoise dots...

... dots from head to toe from Kath Webber, who I believe can normally be found behind crochet needles rather than a sewing machine...

... possibly the cutest dotty dress in the world from Lisa at Tiniest Stitcher...

...dots on a Peter Pan collar from Jenny at The Wardrobe Architect (who actually made an awesome dotty dress too)...

... vintage dots!! Oh WOW!...

...dots that look both high fashion and extremely comfortable from Amelia at Thrift Make Sew...

... a typically experimental make from Melissa at Fehr Trade, using dots in the form of laser cut holes to make a sculptural jacket that she then wore to a Sikh wedding... 

... raised textured dots in keeping with the theme of Braille, from Victoria at Pocket For Sweets...

... and from Sam at Sew McRazy...

... hand painted dots from Kate at Sewing With Kate. She turned plain fabric from her stash into dotty fabric and donated the money she would otherwise have spent on buying fabric. What a gerat idea.

There were double dots from Mady at The Wardrobe Project...

... and finally beautiful intergalactic dots from Dominique Major.

Big dotty thanks to all of you for getting the dots out and being so bloody brilliant! Who'd be up for sewing dots and raising lots again next October? Let me know if you think that is either a bad or good idea in the comments below!


Rosie xx