Thursday, 18 June 2015

Re-cycling sketchbooks

I tend not to talk about my day job very much on this blog but I thought I would make an exception today. I have been an art teacher for about 17 years and at the end of every academic year I have a good old clean up and general sort out.

Every year I come across old sketchbooks that have been abandoned by ex-students who have left. Any keen students ALWAYS come back to collect their work, but there are a bunch of 'em who are really not that bothered.

In a bid not to waste paper I have regularly recycled sketchbooks by ripping out the few pages that have been used. You are then left with a pretty decent 'pre-used' sketchbook ready for action. I often give these 'new' books to keen students who want to do some extra art in their own time.

On the 1st July my school is hosting a Creative Arts evening which will showcase art, drama and music. I had an idea to sell these sketchbooks with original hand-painted covers to raise some money for charity and the art department.

They are quality Seawhite sketchbooks with brown cartridge paper inside. The front covers were painted after work today by yours truly using acrylic paint, sgraffito techniques and simple print-making.

What do you think? Am I wasting my time or should I make some more? How much should I charge?

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Self-drafted Japanese Tree skirt

In the lead up to Me-Made-May I had a creative sense of urgency to complete any unfinished projects and start those ideas that have been knocking around in my head for a while.
One such garment started way back in 2013 when I purchased this lovely piece of Japanese Cotton from Ray Stitch that was in the sale for £10 - yeah!

A funky bold Japanese print from Ray Stitch.
With the bold and brilliant print I wanted to keep as much of it as possible so decided to make a classic gathered skirt with a straight waistband.

I cut a long rectangle section for the waistband first, then cut the fabric in half so I could match the pattern around the width of the skirt. I sewed these two sections together after inserting two side seam pockets - I love a pocket!

Pockets pinned ready for sewing.
I stitched the waistband together to make a loop then folded it over.
I chose to keep the front section of the waistband flat and strengthened it with interfacing. The back section houses the elastic - you can see how I finished the elastic in the photo below.

The next step was to run gathering stitches around the top of the skirt section and pull them to create even gathers around the skirt.

Finally I pinned the gathered skirt onto the waistband and top stitched it all into place. Oh, forgot to mention its also lined with a simple white poly-cotton because the Japanese cotton is a little see-through. 

The inside of the waistband with interfaced front section and reinforced sections to stitch the elastic onto.
The completed skirt!
I wore it in the first week of May when I attended a Tatty Devine workshop in Brick Lane. I made a fab necklace as a birthday present for my friend Mel who has recently moved to San Francisco - I hope she likes it!

Fan workshop at Tatty Devine Brick Lane in May
I am still not sure if a full gathered skirt suits me - I usually prefer silhouettes with less fabric volume, I just couldn't face cutting into this lush print even though it was a bargain £10!

What do you think?
Have you sewn something that you are not sure suits you?

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Charity Shop Re-fashion

In the lead up to Me-May-May I made a concerted effort to finish off a few simple projects that have been whizzing around my head for some time. Not a total hand-made garment more a series of changes and modifications to existing RTW clothes that I wanted to re-fashion.

 A friend gave me this beautiful hand-made silk dress that she bought from a charity shop in Putney. I loved the abstract print and the pretty colours but the length of the dress was VERY short so it sat in the back of my wardrobe never worn. I decided it would be worth chopping off a section and turning it into a top. I top-stitched a deep double hem to stabilize it and give it a bit of weight. I never got around to wearing it during May but on it's first outing last week the zip at the back of the top broke half-way through the day! Luckily I had a cardigan. Needless to say it is now zipless!

The original beautiful (crumpled) silk dress. Very short though! 
New top after chopping off about 40cm.
Top-stitched and ironed. So much better now!
I bought this bold and beautiful Monsoon maxi-skirt from Oxfam in Putney a few summers ago and it has sat in a bag for years. The length of the skirt didn't quite fall at a very flattering point for a maxi so I decided to give it a chop too! The fabric is a very soft lightweight cotton and was difficult to create a perfect hemline because the flared panels of the skirt. It's not too bad but probably not my finest hemming.

Original Monsoon maxi skirt with flared panels and white cotton lining
The finished skirt is a much more wearable length!
Two lots of hems!
Have you modified any existing clothing to give them a new lease of life?

Saturday, 6 June 2015

Me-Made-May 2015 final week

My second year of participating in Me-Made-May hosted by the lovely Zoe was so much easier because I had a wider range of me-made clothing to choose from.
I pledged to wear me-made clothing and accessories from Monday to Friday again as I am still finishing the renovation of my house and knew I would be wearing the same painted DIY clothes most weekends. Having said that I did manage to squeeze in a few me-made outfits on the odd weekend when popping out of the house.

Before I conclude my 'findings', this is what I wore for the final week of May.

Day 23
Top: American Apparel
Skirt: Marilla Walker Ilsley skirt - me-made 2015
Scarf: Marimekko
Jacket: Levis
Shoes: Vans
Day 24
Top: American Apparel
Skirt: Warhol Dolores Pocket skirt - me-made 2015
Shoes: Birkenstock
Day 26
Top: Gap
Dress: Simplicity 9620 - me-made 2014
Leggings: Abercrombie and Fitch
Shoes: Vans
Day 27
Dress: Blue vintage dress - me-mended 2014
Shoes: Vans
Day 28
Top: Uniqlo t-shirt (Jonathan Adler collaboration)
Skirt: Colette Ginger skirt - me-made 2013
Leggings: Warehouse
Necklace: Marimekko
Shoes: Paul Smith purple Dante brogues
Day 29
Dress: Dixie DIY Bonnell - me-made 2015
Day 30
Top: 1970's vintage
Skirt: Marilla Walker Ilsley skirt - me-made 2015
Shoes: Birkenstock
My colourful final Me-Made-May 2015 collage.

I don't think it needs spelling out but I will anyway; I love separates!
As you can see from the above collage I have a wide range of black and white OR solid colour separates interspersed with a generous sprinkling of colourful abstract prints.

Seven new makes
I managed to make lots of new items in April and May that broadened my selection of me-made choices this year; Liberty Simplicity 1634 top, self-drafted tree skirt, Colette Laurel top, Colette Spotty Sorbetto top, Liesl & Co Everyday skirt, Warhol Dolores Pocket skirt and Dixie DIY Bonnell dress.

Conclusions and challenges
I enjoyed it much more this year as I have been honing my me-made wardrobe since MMM 2014, but there is still work to be done. I mentioned in my concluding comments last year that I needed to make some trousers - looks like this will be something I need to address before next MMM! I would also like to bust more of my fabric stash, actually make some of the dresses from my embarrassingly extensive collection of patterns , make a button up shirt and maybe some shorts. 

Favourite thing
My favourite aspect of taking part in MMM is the sense of camaraderie and friendship from other sewing bloggers. I loved the daily scroll through the Flcker group and instagram photos as well as discovering some awesome new blogs to read.
I have now added the following amazing sewers to my ever-expanding blog roll:

I am already looking forward to Me-Made-May 2016 and I hope that I will have met some of my sewing ambitions during the rest of the year.