Tuesday, 30 December 2014

1960's coat progress.... or not

Way back in November I started a coat-making workshop at the Clapham Sew Over It store. Things started well over the four weeks but since the course ended I haven't had a moment to spend on it. I hope to get back to finishing the 1960's coat in the new year.

My chosen fabrics - Grey cashmere and wool mix herringbone with bright pink rayon-mix lining
Assembling the many pattern pieces
Cutting the lining
Laying out the coat outer shell - didn't want to make a mistake with this expensive fabric!
The centre back seam with the interfaced back and side sections
The back yoke pinned ready for sewing
The bust dart cut ready to be pressed open on the ham

Monday, 22 December 2014

Christmas Decoration Swap

The lovely Marilla Walker organised a Christmas Decoration swap and my selected Xmas-Deccy-swapette was the very talented Helen from Just Sew Therapeutic. Unlike me, Helen was mega organised and send me a very exciting parcel at the beginning of December.... Thanks Helen... not only did I receive two beautifully hand-made Christmas trees (with bells on!) but some lush chocolate too!

In return I sent Helen three hand-made decorations that were made from bright coloured felt and glass-beads. I based them on a paper decoration I had seen when surfing the internet a few weeks ago. Hopefully Helen likes her decorations as much as I like the ones she made me  x
Thanks Helen for such wonderful decorations and to Marilla for organising the swap!

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Christmas bunting at Sew Over It

In November I booked a 'festive bunting' workshop for myself and my friend Natalie at the new Sew Over It store in Islington. Natalie is learning how to sew and I thought it would be a fun way to catch up over a bit of craft.
The shop frontage of the Sew Over it store is a beautiful shade of lilac and inside it has the familiar pink highlights like the Clapham store. Lisa was running the session which started at 6pm with tea and cake (Nat and I were a bit late so missed that bit) then onto a quick demonstration by Lisa about how to construct the bunting.
After a speedy two hours I managed to come up with this! To be honest the selection of fabric that Lisa had prepared did not conjure up my idea of festive bunting - the fabrics were a range of polka dot cottons in lilac, pink, blue and black. I chose the blue polka dot and then bought half a metre of red polka dot and the darker coloured tarten you can see in the photo. I found a lighter red tarten in the scrap box that we had permission to raid.
It was only after Nat send me the photo of me looking dead proud of my bunting that I realised that the colour combinations of my sweater and trousers match perfectly!! How twee.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

McCalls M6696 update

It has been a busy sewing week or two. I have almost finished my McCall's M6696 shirtdress that I started at the Ray Stitch workshop with the lovely Clare from Sew Dixie Lou.
The photos below show the progress I have made. All I need to do now is to hand-sew the internal yoke and attach the sleeves - yeah! I decided to not use buttons with the traditional buttonholes but use big press-studs instead which I am pretty happy with.
The other ladies on the course were lovely and it was interesting how different our shirt-dresses looked because we all used such different fabrics. Below are a few photos of the last workshop on Tuesday 11th November.

Danny tackling her top-stitching!

Lisa showcasing her amazing almost-finished shirt-dress (she did loads of homework between classes!)

Fitting the collar onto my shirt-dress.
You can see the black polka dot inner collar facing popping out! 
The lovely Clare from Sew Dixie Lou with a fellow sewer also called Danny!
I couldn't resist taking a shot of the Ray Stitch counter 'after-hours' on my way out! It looks so lovely!

Sunday, 9 November 2014

McCalls M6696 shirtdress progress

Part two of the Ray Stitch McCalls M6696 shirtdress was really enjoyable. Due to the crazy state of my house renovations I was unable to use a sewing machine to complete my homework - I hand basted everything in place. Luckily I managed to catch up on my homework by getting to Ray Stitch a little bit earlier and cheekily asked if I could use a machine to catch up. Thanks Ray Stitch!

So, what did I manage to get done on Tuesday? As you know from the previous post the M6696 is pretty pattern piece heavy and there are lots of individual steps.
This is what I achieved between 6pm - 9.30pm (including my homework):
  • Attached the external back yoke to the altered back piece
  • Sewed the side seams of the bodice
  • Sewed the shoulder seams
  • Attached the internal back yoke
  • Trimmed the side seams and applied satin bias binding
  • Hand-stitched the internal yoke
  • Attached the external waistband
  • Created two simple pleats facing outwards on the back piece to take out the extra material left from the removal of the gathering
  • Attached the internal waistband
  • Sewn sleeve seams
  • Gathered the top of sleeves
  • Sew the four skirt darts
  • Attach the pocket linings
  • Under-stitch the pocket linings
  • Attach the pockets
Woah! When you list it like this it looks like I was working like a maniac! Unfortunately I haven't been able to do any sewing this weekend due to a number of DIY house chores (fixing-leaking-roof kind-of-stuff) and preparing for next week at work where I will be having Senior Management reviewing the department (scary!).

Here is a sneak peak of the bodice with lovely neat bias-bound seams and the black spotty contrast cotton. You can also see one of the two small pleats I added to take out the fullness of the lower back.
Fingers crossed I can be a speedy sewer again on Tuesday to get to the final stage of the shirtdress.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Ray Stitch Shirtdress Workshop

On Tuesday's for the next two weeks I will be skilfully guided through making the McCalls M6696 shirtdress by the lovely Clare from Sew Dixie Lou at Ray Stitch in Islington.

I booked this course a while ago pre-finishing my MA dissertation as a little treat to look forward to. I originally bought a textured grey 100% linen to use but when I got it home and saw how the grey looked against my face (too similar a tone ie. pale) I decided to search for another fabric (don't worry the linen will make a lovely skirt / trousers).
The first of three sessions was on 28th October. I managed to cut out all sections of the 3/4 sleeve, straight skirt version of the dress (View D).

The only sewing I managed was to create gathers in the back and attach to the yoke. It was at this point I realised the the slight bulk of the corduroy would be a disadvantage with certain aspects of the pattern - I just didn't like the puffy effect on the corduroy that doesn't drape as well as other fabrics such as viscose, silk or a lightweight chambray.... I was getting a bit tired at this point of the class and decided to unpick / re-do this part at home.

To get rid of the gathers I did this... it may not be right but hey, you live and learn!

I am looking forward to the next session on Tuesday and hope that my free-styled modifications will match up with the waistband part of the dress. If it doesn't I could always add a little box pleat and call it a design feature. Seeing these photos made me realise I really should iron my bodice to get rid of the ex-gathers!

Friday, 31 October 2014

Lego + Mex

After reading Time Out's great review for the Art of the Brick exhibition and then a very favourable write up about DF/Mexico it turns out they are both in the Old Trueman Brewery building at Brick Lane which seemed like it was meant to be. Rachel was my cultural partner in crime and we had a great time oohh-ing and ahhh-ing over the creative fun and sheer volume of Lego bricks used in Nathan Sawaya's sculptures.

It is a really fun exhibition!

And then onto the lush Mexican feast at DF/Mexico.... build your own tortillas with steak, peppers and onions, red colslaw, hand-smashed guacamole and corn tortillas. Soooooooo good!

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Coat fabric research

In a week or two I will be embarking on an exciting adventure that is outer garment making. Yes, I will be making my first ever winter coat. I have decided I need help in this area so signed up for a workshop at Sew Over It at their Clapham shop.
Lisa Comfort of Sew Over It designed the coat based on a 1960's silhouette which I think is really simple and stylish. Here she is below modelling two versions:

I am not sure whether to go for a statement bold coloured coat or a more neutral colour?!
I have collected a few samples of 100% wool coating from MacCulloch & Wallis, John Lewis and Shaukat so far.

I love the idea of making a striped, checked or dogtooth coat but recognise that I really should just cover the basics of making a coat first without making it too difficult for myself by adding stripe or pattern matching into the mix.

The 100% boiled wools in the left middle and centre bottom look gorgeous but at the moment I am veering towards the navy and white herringbone fabric at the bottom right. It feels lovely and I am thinking of adding a very bright coloured lining to make it a little bit special.

I am taking a trip to Gold Hawk Road on Friday to do some more research (and hopefully find some cheaper versions). The costings of the 100% wool fabric from the above shops range between £17 - £30 per metre so I can't afford to make a mistake when I need 3 metres to make this coat!

What colour do you think I should go for?
Any suggestions for shops that sell 100% wool fabric in London?

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Late at the Tate

I went to see the private view of the Late Turner exhibition with my friend Rachel at Tate Britain the other week. If you get a chance to see this exhibition I would highly recommend it. I was surprised how much I enjoyed his work.
Seeing so many Turner paintings in one place has a huge impact; his amazing use of light and delicate colour palettes are gorgeous!

I was also excited to see the Phyllida Barlow installation that was a series of site specific sculptures entitled 'Docks'. The show ended at the weekend and I was so happy to get a chance to see the sculptures because they were so crazy, huge, over-whelming, fun and serious all at the same time.

Phyllida Barlow's Dock sculptural installation at Tate Briatin, 6th October 2014
We also checked out the four finalists for the 2014 Turner Prize.
There are three video installation artists in the final this year which I wasn't that bothered about. My favourite entry was by Ciara Phillips. She has created a screen printed room and worked with other artists and womens' groups to create a collaborative art piece.

Ciara Phillip's very Warholesque screen-printed room at Tate Britain
Ciara Phillip's screen printed room
Have you seen this year's Turner Prize entries? 
What do you think of them?

Saturday, 13 September 2014

This week I've mostly been wearing..... or OWOP round-up

After reading so many fun reviews of Tilly's now Jane's One Week, One Pattern in 2013 I knew it would be a goal to take part in 2014. At the time I had only one garment made of any particular pattern. So many repeat-makes later I knew I was set to take on the challenge that is OWOP!

Now, what made participating in this wonderful sewing adventure a bit tricky was the fact it was my second week of a new job. So I had to keep it simple with a garment that was work appropriate.

A process of elimination followed:

Two Dolores Pocket Skirts does not a capsule wardrobe make.
Another thing to consider was my Matisse inspired green skirt is a little too distinctive to wear more than once in the working week - or even month for that matter!

Verdict: No

Again, two lovely Colette Ginger's would not be enough to create a full week of outfits...

Verdict: No

It seems my obsession for sewing two skirts of the same pattern knows no bounds as is the case with my Sew Over It Tulips skirts. Limitations of only two items for the week meant this again was a non-starter.

Verdict: No

My collection of Colette Sorbetto tanks had the possibility of being the chosen pattern, but I felt that they were a bit too summery looking for my second week at work.

Verdict: No 

Which left me with only ONE remaining multi-make-me-made item in my wardrobe.... the very versatile Grainline Scout Woven tee.

Verdict: Yes!

A great little pattern (that I have modified a few times) gave me the option to wear trousers or skirts to change the look of my outfits. Although due to a few late nights (working) and being generally overwhelmed with information for my new job the final outfits are a very basic version of the same thing...

Scout Woven tee + Gap coloured trousers + Gap cardigan + Paul Smith loafers  

I must excuse the grainy distorted selfies in this post because its been a hectic week all round in my household . I just don't know anybody well enough at my new place of work to say - 'Hey would you mind taking a photo of me wearing this home-made garment....'.

So there you have it. My first OWOP. Done.
And the most selfies I have ever taken all in one week ; )
Just in case you were wondering why I had very bendy and extremely weird looking legs, all selfies were taken at Angel tube station because I have no full length mirrors in my house due to my ongoing house renovation.

Lastly, there are only five photos because I spent all last weekend wearing DIY clothes. Too hideous looking to blog about but to give you a visual image: I would say they channel a 1990's deconstructed grunge vibe with a little bit of Jackson Pollock thrown in for good measure!

Did you take part in OWOP?
How did you get on?

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Me-Made Rejects

Have you got those me-made items of clothes in your wardrobe that don't really fit you or you just don't wear?
I have had these items hanging on my rail for longer than I care to remember. Needless to say I felt that despite the hours of work that went into them I just had to pass them onto to somebody else.

Reject Case One

Material: A gorgeous red silk purchased from John Lewis in Nottingham circa 1998
Pattern: Simplicity 9868 (or similar because I don't have the original pattern anymore)
Purpose: I made it to wear to my friends wedding to go with some lovely red silk kitten heel slingbacks - look it was the 1990's!
Reason for rejection: The bodice is too short and too wide and the arm-holes are too deep

 The skills I learnt when making this top waaaay back in 1998 were; rouleau loops for the buttons, self-covered buttons and making an interfaced collar. So it has been good for something!

The problems I always had with this top were the collar never really fitted quite right, as mentioned in the round up above it's too wide on the main bodice, the bust darts just were not that flattering and it is too short. I quite liked the length back in the days where my 20-year old stomach was svelte and taut, but not so much now....

Well, hopefully somebody at the Oxfam Charity shop in Marylebone will like it!

Reject Case Two

Material: Vintage 60's polyester / nylon mix I found in an old stock cupboard at work
Pattern: Self-drafted from my favourite Top Shop dress
Purpose: I thought this fabric would look super-cool in this dress style - turns out I was wrong.... I just don't think the orange background colour of the fabric is that flattering with my pale skin tone.
Reason for rejection: The fit is perfect but I just haven't worn it in over 7 years... that tells you something?!

Although the green ric-rac picks up on the fab colours in the material it just looks a bit too much altogether. The hem is all picked by hand and I faced the bodice in contrasting fabric (forgot to take photos of that bit).

Well, I hope whoever finds these little hand-made gems loves them and wears them - or cuts them up to make something new - I couldn't bring myself to do that!
It is far better that they are out in the world with the potential for some fun with somebody else than stuck in my wardrobe gathering dust!

Friday, 22 August 2014

CJ = Culture Junkie

Despite having a hectic workload of DIY house renovation and MA dissertation writing to do this summer (one of these projects is going better than the other... I think you can probably guess which one) I knew I would need some creative breaks and a chance to get out of the house.

Enter a little bit of culture through some speedy trips to some wonderful exhibitions. My trip to see the Jean Paul Gaultier at the Barbican had been on my 'to-go-see' list for ages so I happily combined it with a few errands over the East part of London.

Barbican - The Fashion world of Jean Paul Gaultier from the Sidewalk to the Catwalk

Wow, catchy title!! First of all I had no idea what to expect in terms of the size of the exhibition because I have never been to the Barbican art gallery before, but I was mightily impressed with the sheer volume of the garments on show.
The way the exhibition was displayed was creative and fun with a side helping of fetish and smut - just what you would expect from JPG himself!
Its running until the 25th August so you have a few days left to check out this french corset creating fashionista.

Here are a few photos of the exhibition split into categories:


Influences and muses

Beading and embroidery details

Fashion and Textiles Museum - Made in Mexico

Last night I met a friend at the Fashion and Textiles Museum to see the Made in Mexico exhibition - I got a great deal on Amazon Local for a reduced entrance ticket price of £7 AND a free hot drink voucher to use at the lovely little tea-room in the museum. If you want to see this exhibition you have until the 31st August to catch it!

I knew the exhibition would be compact - the FTM is quite small - but it packed a great punch; with lots of colour and different styles of exhibit ranging from garments, textiles, weaving, embroidery and artefacts. The upper level of the museum was dedicated to more contemporary work that has been influenced or inspired by Mexican culture.

Here are some images from Made in Mexico exhibition:

I loved the colours and vibrancy of the Made in Mexico exhibition.
Have you been to any inspiring exhibitions recently?