Friday, 29 November 2013

Strike! The Spoolettes Hit the Lanes

You may have spotted in a few other posts around the internet that a rather special group has started here in London - the Spoolettes! (Read about it here, or look at the Facebook page here) No real agenda, other than having fun and finding reasons to get together and wear special outfits we've made. 

And for our first big night out, we hit Bloomsbury Lanes for bowling, pizza, burgers, karaoke, and fabulous home made outfits!

Here's some highlights:

Kathryn of Yes, I like that in her shirt from outer space!

Emmie, Janene, and Jo in more gorgeous creations
Katrhyn, Clare (who organised the whole shebang), and me
Sally, the best bowler of the night, and just look at that embroidery
Rehanon, bringing extra sass!
Fiona, looking extra cute!
Who's the best dressed person in this picture? The Spoolette, of course!
Alison's perfect bowling stance!

And as usual, I was having too much of a good time to actually take any photos of my own outfit. I decided to go for a bowling-style dress, based on this pattern:

I used some red cotton drill from Dalston Mill, combined with some scraps of black poly and a few adjustments to the pattern to make this:

The main change I made was to the back, where I added a yoke and some pleat inserts, as well as some little tabs and gathers to pull in the waist a bit:

As well as this, I added black flaps to the pockets:

The most time consuming part was the back embroidery:

I drew the logo freehand onto my trusty roll of baking parchment (it took many attempts to get just right), then pinned that to the back of dress and embroidered through it:

Not being an expert on embroidery, I just made it up as I went along, I think the stitch I used is called a split stitch. Whatever it is, it worked! Here's some details:

That's meant to be a bobbin...
... and that's a needle
I also put my name on the front:

I'll leave you with a photo of Clare's vegetarian burger and her alcoholic shake, which was a delicious revelation:

See you soon!

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Minerva Bloggers Network - Ahoy There!

It's time for my first Minerva Bloggers' Network project - I present to you the Ahoy There! dress:

Otherwise known as Vogue 8728, from 1946:

I know it's freezing cold outside and that this is essentially a summer dress, but then I've never let things like temperature dictate what I wear. Besides, winter is exactly the time when we need bright colours around! 

I used a lovely cotton poly mix printed with polka dots and nautical rings on a red background. The fabric has a 'stiff' quality and at first I wasn't sure there would be enough drape to suit the 40's look of the design. You definitely need to pre-wash it before working with it to soften it up a bitBut after that it's a dream to work with - it hardly frays, irons beautifully, and doesn't crease at all. A dream fabric!

I didn't really think about how the gathered bodice was going to look over my bust, as I'm not wanting in that area. Would the boobs get all the attention? Ultimately, I don't think it looks too bad:

 The dress goes together really easily - the gathered bodice makes fitting pretty easy, and the skirt just gathers up and attaches to it. For reference, I cut the size 14/bust 36. I only made a few adjustments:

- the pattern instructions guide you to lay the waist yoke over the bodice and top stitch through all the layers. I preferred to encase the raw edges between 2 layers, so I cut 2 of the waist yoke and stitched the bodice between the 2 layers and then turned it right side out. I trimmed the seam allowance, then top stitched through all the layers.

Bodice yoke before being turned right side out

Yoke turned right side out and top stitched

- I didn't really want to make the belt - it just wasn't doing it for me. Instead I interfaced a strip 3" wide and the length of my waist measurement, stitched it and turned it right side out, then added a bow and used a hook and eye to close it:

It's a bit hard to see on the dress, but I assure you it's there!

- the pattern doesn't really give any indication of whether or not to use lining; I almost always add lining to a skirt and this dress was no exception. I stitched the 2 layers separately, then treated them as one when I gathered the skirt and attached it to the bodice. I also used off-cuts from the lining to make bias strips to finish the hem:

Detail of the lining and finished hem
- The hem is marked at 2", but that was too long, so I shortened the dress by 4" and shortened the lining by 5 1/2"

- I'm essentially quite a lazy seamstress and if I can save time I will. So when the pattern recommended you make your own shoulder pads, I decided instead to use these beauties:
They have a nifty little velcro strip along the top; I tacked the top strip to the shoulder seam then just stuck the shoulder pad in.

The only other recommendation I would make is to avoid hand stitching with this fabric - the texture is too crisp and the hem is huge, so just stick to machine stitching. And there's enough going on in the pattern that you don't see any stitching.

I really love wearing this dress, and was determined to get some shots of it by water. So I braved the cold November afternoon to pose by the Regents Canal:

Bemused dog walkers and cyclists wrapped in layers of winter clothes looked on while I pretended I was in some sort of summer location. The cold always makes me hungry so Mr Needles and myself headed over to The Advisory in Hackney afterwards and ordered a heap of burgers and fried food:

I managed to stuff most of this into my body while wearing this dress, so I can confirm you can eat copious amounts of food without any seams splitting!

And that's pretty much it! If you like what you see, head on over to the Minerva site where you can buy a kit with everything you'll need, even down to thread and zips.

See you soon!

Monday, 4 November 2013

Halloween Part 2 - Warriors, Come Out to Play-ay...

Anyone a fan of 'The Warriors'? For the uninitiated, its a film from 1979 set in New York City. This is New York before Giuliani, before gentrification, before Sex and the City, cosmos, and cool loft apartments. What it had instead is crime, urban decay and lots of hysteria about  street gangs. It's these gangs which the film focuses on, giving them theatrical costumes and names and placing them in a mythical nighttime environment. The story is simple -  the focal gang of the title, the Warriors, find themselves stranded in Manhattan, and have to make their way across the city back to their home turf of Coney Island. Along the way they have to pass through rival gangs' turf, prompting confrontations with some curiously outfitted groups.

Talk to any one who knows this film and the gang they remember is the Baseball Furies. I suppose the outfit is so outlandish, verging on ridiculous, that you just can't forget it; apparently the inspiration came from the directors combined love of baseball and KISS.

I've always harbored a secret desire I to dress up as a Baseball Fury; this Halloween I decided to go for it! -

I didn't know there was a hole in my tights at the time...I suppose it adds to the look...

As usual, I had to include an element of crafting, which is how the shorts came into being. Take some white jersey shorts from the sale rail at American Apparel, add masking tape and fabric paint - 

- And you have matching Baseball Furies shorts -

Out I ventured into the freezing cold on Saturday night to scare the customers at Super Satanic Saturday

On the door with Honey Manko
- where guests paid tribute to their dead loved ones at our Voodoo altar - 

 Well, Halloween is over, the glitter and greasepaint have been put away, and now it's back to business as usual. Hope you all had a great time, and see you soon!