Wednesday, 29 February 2012

It's Not All About Vintage - Margiela Inspired Jacket

As the title suggests, not everything Chez Needles is about 1940's glamour girls and 50's pin ups - I like modern stuff too. A designer I've followed over the years is Martin Margiela, a Belgian born designer known for his minimal, avant-garde designs and his secretive, somewhat cryptic approach. For example, there are almost no pictures in existance of the man himself; the only visible branding he uses are 4 large stitches at the neck, which attach his labels to the garments. Some of his work is a bit impractical, like these shoes:

As you can see they are just a heel and sole; they were sold with a roll of ordinary packing tape, which you wrapped around your foot and under the sole, in order to keep them on. 

But much of what he does is just beautiful, like these horsehair jackets:

Or this dress made from old records, worn by Rihanna:

As you can imagine, abstract Belgian fashion doesn't come cheap, but I do have one pair of his signature split toe Tabi shoes, similar to these, which I love to bits:

 Mr Needles and I were having a browse around the Margiela boutique here in London a few months ago, when I saw a jacket similar to this:



(The one I actually saw was for men, and had a much smaller front panel, but I can't find a picture of it on line!)

Sudden flash of inspiration - Mr Needles had his favorite hooded jacket stolen while out at a bar a couple of years ago, and has never found one to match it. What if I took this pattern:

And used the bigger hood of this pattern:

And added a panel either side of the zip? What would I get? This:

Here are some details:

The hood and zip - though it appears simple, it was a complete pain to put, in but worth it in the end.

I added a pocket to the side seam - what's the use in a jacket without pockets?

And it was all lined with a fleece fabric, the colour of which I named 'dead mouse'.

That was my foray into the future, but I'll be back in the past soon! 

Monday, 27 February 2012

A Quick Trip to Manchester - So Much For Busting My Stash...

Castlefield Basin, Manchester
A couple of weeks ago, Mr Needles and I took a quick trip to Manchester to visit friends and relatives, and to have our yearly celabration blow-out. We happened to get married on Mr Needles birthday, only 3 days after my birthday, and the day before Valentines - February has become a big deal!

But I also used this occasion to visit one of my favourite fabric shops in the whole world - Abakhan Fabrics on Oldham St. I lived in Manchester in the 90's, and as a poor student who wanted new clothes, Abakhan became one of my favourite haunts.

The main reason I liked it so much was the ground floor, where bales are piled up with offcuts, which are priced by the kilo. You never new what would be in store - there was always an abundance of off cuts from local manufacturers, so there'd be piles of Christmas fabric in July, or an influx of Hawaiian prints in winter. On this visit, they seemed to have an abundance of 'John Deere' branded tractor print! Here's a sneaky photo I took of the bales of joy:

And of course, it's super cheap! I bought 2 pieces of fabric, each roughly 3 1/2 m, so approx 7m in total. The price - £14!!! That's about £2 per metre - BARGAIN! And here's what I bought:

A cotton print of vintage guitars and sheet music. I think this would make a great dress. 

A lovely tropical print; the photo doesn't really do it justice, but the colours are quite subtle, giving it a 40's feel.

Of course, it wasn't all sewing. We visited Rusholme and  stuffed ourselves on Curry Mile (for those of you who've never been to Manchester, it's a bit like Brick Lane, but bigger, better, and cheaper). We spent Valentines night in a 'traditional' Northern Tiki Bar called Keko Moku -

Drinking 'traditonal' Northern drinks like Zombie and Fog Cutter:
A pint of Zombie

We drank enough of those to make us behave like this:

Once we recovered from that night, we explored the sights. We had a look at the old Granada TV building, the home of 'Coronation St':

I love that font!
We explored some of the classier back streets:

Book me an appointment!

We even took in some interesting Chinese art by Chen Man at the Chinese Arts Centre:

Isn't it gorgeous!

And that was Manchester!  See you soon...

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Stashbusting Project - Wrist Pincushion

I've never found the right receptacle for my sewing pins - it's always something too fiddly, or it doesn't withstand repeated use and breaks easily. I currently keep most of my pins in a cigarette tin I found in a field at a festival - it works, but isn't very glamourous. 

In the spirit of Katie's Stash Busting project, I decided to make a wrist pincushion out of scraps and bits 'n pieces in my ever expanding pile of stuff that 'will come in handy one day'.

First, I cast around on the internet for some ideas. Some were a bit cumbersome (and weird...)

 Some were just too cute to stick pins in:

And some were really lovely:


Armed with these ideas, I hunted around the house for materials. I looked in the recycling for some card to make a base out of, and found this tights packet I'd just thrown out:

I know - Wolford...the recycling in Dalston is so fancy!

I traced around the base of a mug for my template, later to be used as the base of the cushion:

I cut this out, and trimmed it a bit smaller so it fit my wrist:

Now for the fabric. I figured I'd need to use 2 layers, for strength, so decided on some black cotton under some old scraps of Alexander Henry 'Day of the Dead' cotton. I traced around the card template, then added some extra for seam allowance, 2 in black and 2 in pattern fabric:

Then I cut a section away from each one to make a half-moon shape, and stitched one black piece to a patterned piece face to face:

Then turned this right side out:

- And then back on itself, wrong sides together. Slap the other 2 halves together, wrong sides together, but don't stitch them. Then lap the neatened half over the raw edge, leaving an opening, and pin and set to one side:

Now for the cushiony bit! 

Using the template, I cut 1 circle of black and 1 circle of pattern, adding 1 1/2 inches/4 cm all the way around:

The 2 circles will now need gathering up, wrong sides together, so that they can fit onto the base. I used a loose running stitch all the way around, with a knot in one end only and a long tail:

With the long tail, pull the thread tight so the circle gathers up. Check the size against the base; when you think it's about the right size, tie a knot in the tail and pin the gathered piece to the base, right sides facing:

It doesn't look like much now, but be patient...

With a tight running stitch, attach the gathered piece to the base:

Trim the seam, then turn right side out, through the opening in the base. Now the fun bit - shove loads of stuffing in through the opening in the base:

I used some old stuffing I had left over from my knitted Slash project, but you could use old tights, bits of old cloth, etc.

Once you're happy with your cushion, you can squeeze the card template back in to give the base some rigidity. Then, sew it closed:

The final bit - I had a piece of thick elastic which I measured against my wrist, plus a little extra for seam allowance. This was stitched onto the back nice and tightly:

And now the finished product:

Can't wait to use it!

Friday, 10 February 2012

Pauline Trigere Coat - Finished Just in Time

Pauline Trigere for McCall's, 1956

I started this coat a while ago, then got distracted by a load of things, like Christmas, snow, knitting, blah, blah, blah. It started to become one of those unfinished things that was hanging around, reminding me how I don't finish stuff. But I didn't let it defeat me, and here it is today:

Me half-heartedly trying to recreate the pose on the original packet.

The coat is really very simple, but the sheer massiveness of its swingy shape makes you feel totally glamourous wearing it. It swings and swishes as you walk; if you turn too quickly, it swings out, threatening to knock small children over:

Arty action shot!
As you may have noticed, my version is not exactly like the picture on the cover of the pattern. It seems that the pattern cutters at McCall's left a few things out and changed some details. The pocket on mine has a scalloped detail, there is no split in the hem of the cuff, and I left off the cape, as I didn't like the way it sat:

The cape - just not sure......

The pocket - not really like the one in the picture
The reason the coat took me so long to finish was the amount of hand sewing and inner construction involved, which I got a bit bored with at times. But as soon as it started snowing, I got back into it!

I decided to use canvas for all the interfacings, as well as reinforce the cuffs, pockets, and hems with the same canvas cut on the bias:

3" canvas bias strip, for reinforcing cuffs

This involved loosely catch stitching each piece to the inside of all the hem allowances.
Pocket hem reinforced with canvas

Revers reinforced with canvas
 Doesn't sound like much, but when your hem is about 12 feet, it can be tempting to leave it and watch T.V.! I spent so long hunched over it, I started to get bad neck ache:

But it was all worth it in the end! 

The coat is a raglan sleeve construction, which meant the seams had to be clipped to make them lay flat. The coat is really heavy, and I was worried that the clipped seams would not withstand the weight. Solution - I reinforced the junction of the seams with some ribbon, which just happened to be some Trumpers ribbon from an old Christmas present Mr Needles received:
Ribbon reinforcing underam seams - I don't throw anything away!
And finally, the buttons. I'm never very pleased with the buttonholes on my machine, I've tried doing them by hand, but I'm terrible at it, and I really don't have the nerve to do bound buttonholes. So I took a leaf out of Marc Jacobs book, and avoided them altogether by using press studs sewn underneath 2 large buttons:

Press studs under the buttons
I also added this little chain at the neck, but I doubt I'll ever use it - I never like hanging coats and jackets from those little loops as they pull the neck out of shape. But it just adds a nice finishing touch:
There you have it, a glamourous winter coat. I'm off to swish about in the snow!