Monday, 28 April 2014

Pretty Polly?

So I've managed to cobble together a new top because:

a) I'd love a warmer weather top to wear with plain skirts / jeans (I live in hope)
b) I wanted another something me-made for next months MMM challenge
c) It's my first foray into the By Hand London indie pattern-istas and I've been meaning to make something of theirs forever!
d) I wanted to incorporate the lovely Designer's Guild fabric (in the centre section) into something and it was too small for anything else

Here is the journey of how this Polly top was born! Free pattern download here. 

Step one - Friday Evening - Cut out all the PDF printed A4 papers on the train from London to Leeds.

Step two - Friday Night -  Stick together all the A4 pages whilst relaxing in a Leeds hotel watching trashy TV in bed with PJ's on - the bliss.


Step three - Saturday Morning - Lay out pattern pieces on fabric and cut out.

Step Four - Sunday Lunchtime - Pin and hand tack the insert panel-piece on return journey from Leeds to London.


Step four - Sunday Evening - At home, got out my sewing machine to whizz up the main seams of the Polly top using a long stitch.

Step five - Sunday Night - Lop off about 3 cm from each side seam and re-pin. When happy, re-sew using French Seams. Then reduce shoulder seam by about 2.5cm.

To be completely honest at this point I was sort of randomly pinning and re-stitching to get it to fit better.

Step six - Sunday Bedtime - Realise I should have cut a different size to begin with but hey, I got there in the end!

The bottom of the top has sort of flared out a touch and it may be to do with my shop-bought stash busted bias-binding (I was too lazy to make my own at the weekend) or that the two different fabrics are sort of not being too friendly or compatiable with each other. Either way I can wear this top with a palin skirt or jeans when (or if) the sun comes out.
I'm also not 100% happy with the placement of the centre panel but fabric restrictions on the grainline were a bit limited... oh well....

What do you think?

The finished Polly top with a Designer's Guild centre panel.
The outer shell is a lovely soft cotton from Samuel Taylors in Leeds.
My Clematis co-ordinates with my new Polly top! 

Monday, 21 April 2014

Blue vintage dress fix

I've signed up to Me-Made-May and there is nothing like an externally imposed deadline to get the gears into action when I realised the quite limited amount of me-made clothing I will have to wear.
This was the incentive I needed to get some of my UFO's (unfinished garments) completed.

This little job has been hanging around since last summer and the Easter sunshine has spurred me on to finish it.

I purchased this lovely hand-made vintage dress at Rockit in Covent Garden for a knock down price because I spotted the hole in the front of the skirt. I had noticed it when trying it on (and also spied the generous seam allowances in the bodice that I would be able to use to patch it up with). So a huge reduction in price was negotiated!

Here is the dress - I am guessing it's early 1960's. What do you think?

Vintage blue dress from Rokit
So I bet you are thinking "I can't even see the hole at the front of the skirt?!" luckily its only a tiny hole and with such busy fabric you could get away with wearing it 'with-hole' but that's not the kind of style statement I want to be making.

Here is the tiny hole:


Here is how I fixed it.
First, I took a sliver off the very generous side seams inside the bodice of the dress.


I selected a part of the fabric that was mainly blue to match the missing fabric in the hole.


I carefully matched up the grainline of the fabric when laying the patch from the inside of the dress.


I then pinned the little patch in place. The hole seems to have already disappeared even at this stage of the fix!


The next task was to select a suitable thread to 'disappear' into the original fabric - there are a lot of options given the multi-coloured hues of the dress. I chose the second from right which I felt softly blended with the majority of shades in the print.


Onto the hand-sewing! The trick is to carefully fold back a small section of fabric and stitch a very small 'seed' stitch to catch the folded back fabric.
This technique is how you hand-sew reverse applique (a fun link about machine reverse applique here).


This is the finished patch!


From a distance you don't even really notice it!
What do you think?


All ready for Me-Made-May. Let's hope we get some nice weather so I don't need to wear it layered up with leggings and a big chunky cardigan.

Now, I just feel I should make my case for using this item of clothing for MMM I have also had to replace the buttons (the old self-covered ones had worn out) at the back of the dress, add some press-studs at the rear opening (it seemed to have a large area just left open for some reason) and I have adjusted some of the back seams too.

Quite a few additions that in my opinion makes this little blue vintage dress a contender. I hope you agree?

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Happy Easter everybody!


Decorate your dining table with colourful placemats and napkins and get into to the spirit of easter with some beautifully hand-painted eggs (I bought these in Poland in 2009!).

Friday, 18 April 2014

Me Made May 2014

So after much deliberation about whether or not to join in this exciting challenge I have firmly decided it's a yes!


Due to this being my first Me-Made-May I am going to be realistic and gentle with myself considering the fact I haven't got a huge amount of self-made garments to wear during the month; so I aim to be pragmatic and practical with my pledge.....

 'I, Caroline of CJ Made, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May '14. I endeavour to wear one home-made / customised item of clothing / accessory from Monday to Friday for the duration of May 2014'

The reason I have had to leave out Saturday and Sunday is because I am doing some pretty hard-core house rennovation and will be wearing this outfit every weekend. No joke!
The Jackson-Pollock-esque emulsion splats on the purple fleece counts as customisation right?!
And my worn away trousers have been lovingly patchworked with a variety of fun fabric scraps from my stash!!
I haven't yet figured out the logistics of recording my outfits yet - do I photograph them / sketch them / get a friend to photograph me? I will have a think about it and it seems practical that it will probably be a combination of all three in a round up at the end of every week.

Have you signed up for Me-Made-May 2014 yet? 

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Amazing art exhibitions

As I mentioned in my previous post I have not had a chance to blog about some of the fun things I have experienced over the past few months.

Let's start with the Isabella Blow exhibition at Somerset House at the end of March. It was a beautiful collection of her vast (and expensive) clothing and accessories. She was a muse and patron for both Philip Tracey and Alexander McQueen so the range of things to see was impressive. Unfortunately because the exhibition was in its final week it was extremely busy and I wasn't able to get any photos of the lovely garments or hats.

In the stairwell leading to the exhibition there was an amazing installation based on Philip Tracey's hats created by Boo Studio.


Flock of Flurry - Paper Chandelier by Boo Studio 2014
Way back in December I visited the London Transport Museum with a friend to see the Art on the Underground celebrating 150 years of the London Underground. Again, as seems to be the case I visited in the final week of the exhibition, but luckily due to an early afternoon from work it was quiet.
Here is a selection of my favourite posters.




In late November I took a trip to the Fashion and Textiles Museum to see the Glamour of Belleville Sassoon exhibition which was lovely. It was great to see such beautifully curated highlights from the 1960's to the present day including a seperate section showcasing the fashion designs and garments worn by Princess Diana and other famous royalty.
Here are a few highlights from the exhibition:

Hand-painted coat circa 1960
1970's beaded bias cut dress
Velvet and silk dupion ball gown 1980's

Hand-beaded lace dress 1960's



Design Museum inspires work for the Tate Modern

I have been very busy at work and doing crazy DIY on my house but luckily I have managed to squeeze in a little bit of arty fun too.


To keep creative I signed up to the Tate Modern six-week evening class based on the Richard Hamilton exhibition. The course covered techniques such as dry-point printing and collage which was right up my street!


The course started with a tour of the exhibition with the evening course tutor Ling, who explained the concepts and intention behind Hamilton's work. It turns out that Hamilton felt his work should be seen in groups or collections so they had a dialogue with one another and that as a viewer you could read them as a series that inter-connected. It was an interesting starting point for being creative!

Onto the art. We were given the theme of perspective (one of Hamilton's reoccuring themes) and were asked to define the meaning of the word in small groups. We had to do this with drawn images only. Our visual interpretation was then re-interpreted by a different group.... an interesting start to the class. Towards the end of the session Ling mentioned our homework (WHAT?) for the next session - which was to read two essays and to etch a dry-point plate based on the 'perspective of a space'.

The main room of the Hamilton exhibition at the Tate Modern
One of my favourite Dada-esque pieces from the Hamilton exhibtion at Tate Modern
The reading part of the homework was easy and interesting, but I was a bit stuck on what to etch onto my aluminium plate. That was until I visited the Design Museum's 'Hello, my name is Paul Smith exhibition...

The Paul Smith exhibition was full of fun bright, beautiful and inspiring things; take a look for yourself:


A recreation of the Paul Smith design studio at the 'Hello, my name is Paul Smith' exhibition at the Design Museum
The stairwell in the Design Museum
I used my photo of the stairwell to create the image for the drypoint print plate. Which I will post about seperately. The work I enjoyed the most was creating collage pieces with a restricted palette of colour and materials (red, white, yellow and green) based upon our printed image / print plate.
The final collages were then worked into with text and imagery from newspapers and magazines.

Caroline Joynson - Tate Triptych 2014