Friday, 26 April 2013

Vogue Capelet - Version 2

 A while ago I made the pattern above out of some red polyester twill:

I really liked the way it turned out, so much so that I decided to make a second version. The polyester was great, but nowhere near heavy enough to keep me warm. A little while ago I found some heavy wool crepe at an RSPCA charity shop - perfect for this pattern. Plus I had the big Spring Blogger Meet-Up to attend and I'm one of those people who likes to have something new to wear for occasions, so what better excuse!

And here it is:

Some details:

The fabric was thick - thickest fabric I've probably ever worked with. Turning corners, enclosing seams,etc, involved trimming, steaming, pressing, more trimming, more pressing, and so on until I had a reasonable finish.

Detail of collar edge, graded and clipped
 I love the swingy shape at the back, and to emphasise it I reinforced it with strips of horsehair canvas cut on the bias and sewn inside the hem allowance:

Bias strip laid inside hemallowance, and caught with long running stitches along the hemline, and herringbone stitch around the top edge. 

 Because of the chunkiness of the fabric, I didn't want to attempt a buttonhole, so I cheated with a decorative button sewn on the outside -

 - with a large press stud sewn underneath:

Sneaky press stud!
I later swapped this for some 'frogs' I picked up at the afore-mentioned Blogger meet-up; I think they look better.

Sewing the frogs on by hand
And finally, I love a jazzy lining, so I used this nautical cotton which I picked up from Rolls and Rems, but never did anything with it:

The jacket is definitely warm enough for the crisp spring sunshine we're experiencing now. I didn't get many photos on the day, but here's that swingy back in action while I chat with Kathryn of Yes, I Like That :

See you soon!

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Bloggers Gone Wild!

...Or as my husband keeps muttering 'Will the madness never end?'

It's Sunday and the sun is shining for the second day running (at last!). I have more fabric and patterns than I know what to do with. I'm thinking I need to learn how to make babaganoush. I have a tiny little hangover. I'm trying to decide which era of Joan Collins I would emulate for a fabled Joan Collins sew-along. I have so many projects in my head, I may need to start writing them down. My husband is laughing at how I stumbled through the door late last night happy and tired. And I've got a squillion more blogs to follow.

How did all this happen? Well, yesterday was the great London blogger meet up, as organised by Rachel of House of Pinheiro. And what a great job she did!

Rachel of House of Pinheiro - so calm despite having to herd 40+ sewing bloggers around London

 She thought of everything - concise emails, with links to all of the attendees' blogs, a lovely meal in a restaurant all to ourselves (also organised with the help of Janene from ooobop!), a swap, a goody bag, professional pictures - you name it, she had it covered!

I'd never been to one of these events and was a little nervous. I always get worried about saying the wrong thing, talking too much, not talking enough; you know, all the usual anxieties. But there were so many talented people I recognised, and everyone was so welcoming and friendly I relaxed straight away. We started in the Victoria & Albert Museum foyer, then moved to the cafe. And here are just a few of the ladies I was so fortunate to meet:

Marie - a Stitching Odyssey

Emma - Vintage Ink Fairy

Clare - Sew Dixie Lou
 (The great photos are courtesy of Digpal Singh)

 Then it was on the the courtyard for more mingling in the sunshine and photos:

(Apologies if I forget anyone's name - I knew I should have written them down)

The whole gang - what is the collective noun for a group of bloggers?

Rehanon Misdemeanour and Janene Ooobop - they look like they're up to something...

The tall ladies - Kathryn of Yes, I like that, Shivani of Pinnypinpin, and the unflappable Rachel

I meet Kathryn at last! It was a pleasure. And a small sneak preview of my new capelet - post to come.

That's Roisin in the middle of Dolly Clacket - she had great shoes that matched her dress beautifully!
 Then on to the main event - fabric shopping on Goldhawk Road. 

Bloggers preparing to hit the shops!

We were fortunate enough to be joined by the King on this occasion.
I had mentally limited myself to fabric for 1 project, but of course I bought enough for 2 projects. Add on some replacement sewing machine needles, and I spent approx. £25, not bad for 5m. Here's what I got:

The one on the left - project unknown, but too lovely to leave.The one on the right - I'm seeing a 1930's style dress for the summer.

I don't know if this was the worst or best fabric of the day - plastic quilted Cosmo covers

Our time in the shops was limited - probably a good thing, or I would have spent way too much money - as it was time for lunch:

After eating my own weight in beautiful babganoush and marinated chicken, it was downstairs for the epic swap

You could bring as much or as little as you wanted; I'd actually meant to bring more, but in the end decided to hang on to most of what I'd earmarked for swapping. But luckily the few bits I took went to good homes, and I couldn't help but adopt some bits for myself:

The 3 J's - Janene, Jenni, and Joanne of Sew Little Time inspect their hauls

 After this members of our merry gang started to peel of for journeys home, etc. Being easily persuaded, I was enticed to the pub for a couple of drinks, and then because we were on a sewing high, on to Camden for a rock'n roll night, with all of our bags of fabric in tow.

And that was the fabulous meet up. The authorities didn't have to be alerted, a wrinkle in time wasn't produced by our collective enthusiasm, and some wonderful friendships were made. I couldn't fit in photos of everyone, but it was also great to meet Sally of Charity Shop Chic, Amy of Almondrock, Hannah of Sinbad and Sailor, and Lizzy of Sew Busy Lizzy. I've got an excess of projects and ideas swirling around my head, enough that I'm feeling slightly hysterical. 

And I nearly forgot - I have somehow ended up with the bag of patterns that were left behind at the end of the swap and now have the great responsibility of finding them good homes. If anyone wants a slanket pattern:

 I'm your woman!

See you soon!

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

A-lines and Concrete - Simplicity 5096

I've mentioned before that I have to wear black for work.  To say it's boring is an understatement; most days you'll see me in my own personal uniform of black skirt, scoop neck top and cardigan. I have a few dresses that liven things up, but I admit that sometimes I feel a bit stuck in a rut when it comes to my work wear.

That's why I decided to make this little number, just to give my professional wardrobe a bit of a shot in the arm. It's a shape I don't usually wear, and from an era (the 1960's) that I don't usually sew from, but it felt good to have a bit of a departure from the norm.

This dress was really easy to make up - it went together so easily! I cut the seam allowances at the front 1" rather than the standard 5/8"/1.5cm, in case I needed to make any adjustments over the bust, but there was no need in the end - fitted beautifully! I also added a self drafted Peter Pan collar (see previous post) in black satin, just to make it a little more interesting.

I matched this to the bow at the front:

The main body of the dress was made out of a pretty standard poly-cotton twill. I added a contrast lining to the skirt of the dress in shocking pink - take that, work uniform rules!:

Pink polyester lining, and pink binding on the sleeve hems.
And in tribute to the patterns 1960's origins, Mr Needles and I spent an afternoon in the cold spring-time sunshine at the Barbican in East London, pretending we were David Bailey and Jean Shrimpton (or maybe more Eric Sykes and Hattie Jacques)

So there we were, wandering around what's apparently Europe's biggest performing arts venue, admiring what we thought was a fine example Brutalist architecture from about 1968:

The double 'M' was even mentioned - Mad Men. I love that show, but cringe involuntarily whenever I hear it used a shorthand for describing anything from the 1960's. It seems to be thrown about randomly, applied to anything from hip young fashions of the time, to little tweed suits worn by wealthy older women. What I love about the series is the distinctions the costume designers make between old and young, rich and poor, hip and un-hip. After all, not everyone was 'swinging' in the 60's; if anything, the majority were like Don Draper, leading pretty conservative lives, puzzled by the Beatles and all the rest. The series has manages to steer clear of all the cliches that you think the 60's were all about - white go-go boots, velvet suits, plastic moulded furniture and all the rest.

So imagine my embarrassment when I bothered to do some research into the Barbican's history, and realised ground wasn't even broken on the site until 1971! It was officially opened in 1982! I fell into the trap of thinking this was a typically 60's complex, all Corbusier-esque cities in the sky, and I was completely wrong!

To hell with architecture and all its confusing eras and ism's, I'm going to the bar:

 See you soon!