Saturday, 29 October 2016

Sewing Treats Halloween Giveaway!

In the spirit of the Halloween season I have de-stashed a random selection of sewing goodies for a giveaway treat for you. No tricks involved here.

As a kid I loved making crazy outfits for Halloween and spent hours sewing, printing and re-fashioning clothing into witches or zombies. I wondered if it was just me who relished the idea of dressing up in something home-made and spooky. I would love to hear about your Halloween costumes too. 

All you need to do for a chance of winning is to follow my blog and write a comment below telling me about your best hand-made Halloween outfit (for yourself or somebody else). Please leave an e-mail address in the comments so I can contact you if you win. I am happy to post internationally too.

I will choose the best costume on Sunday 6th November.

Here is what you could win:

Halloween Treats:
  • 2.5 metres of red spotty cotton
  • 2.5 metres of dark blue acetate / polyester lining
  • 3 vintage fabric flower corsages
  • Cath Kidston tape measure (new with tags)
  • Cath Kidston pins tin (never used with un-opened packet of pins inside)
  • 3 vintage zips (dark pink 18cm, blue 20cm, light pink 23cm)
  • Bag of assorted buttons
  • Bag of assorted beads from the Beadery
  • Threadcount Pattern 5-in-1 Wardrobe Builder (sizes 6-14)
  • Vintage Style Pattern 3957 (size 18, bust 40)
  • Burda Style Pattern 6914 (sizes Eur 34-46)
  • Cotton & Chalk Pattern Rosie Dress (sizes 6-20)
  • Simply Sewing Pattern The Dasiy Dress (sizes 6-20)
  • Simply Sewing Pattern The Poppy Playsuit (sizes 8-22)

I will leave you with this rather fetching hand-made witches costume circa 1988.
Notice the red glitter spray stencilling on the cape, the knitted fingerless gloves, the tacky plastic bangles and beads. All together a very '80's witchy wonder-fest!

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Wear Dots Raise Lots Spotty Skirt

Rosie Martin of DIY Couture is hosting a Sew Dots challenge during October to raise awareness and money for the Royal National Institute for the Blind. I donated £10 and finished a skirt project that I cut out in July. It was fortunate that the John Lewis sale viscose called 'splodge' which was £5 a metre had a black and white 'spotty' design.

This is my second Liesl and Co Everyday Skirt (my previous skirt was also made from John Lewis viscose) and it was pretty easy to sew together other than the annoying slippy viscose.

I wore my new spotty skirt for brunch in Notting Hill this morning and took a few photos of the area.

If you want to get involved with this challenge you are eligible for prizes if you have an Instagram or Twitter account using the #sewdots hashtag. You have until the 30th October to take part.

Saturday, 22 October 2016

Vintage Dolores Pocket Skirt

I dusted off my sewing machine to finish a project that has been hanging around for a while. I really enjoyed making my sixth Dolores Pocket skirt using a vintage fabric I have had in my stash for over ten years. I only had about a metre of fabric but luckily this pattern fitted *almost* all the pieces I needed. I used more stash fabric for sections of the skirt that didn't need to be in the main fabric; natural organic cotton for the pocket linings and hem-band with a beautiful olive green 100% silk for the lining.

Considering I have made this skirt a few times before (here, here, here, here and here) and I only needed to refer to the instructions once to check about the order of the waistband construction. It was the first time I have added a lining to this skirt and as the skirt has a hem-band I gave the lining a little ease and hand-stitched the hem-band to the lining. I did a second round of hand-stitching after attaching the lining but this time I stitched right through to the outer fabric to secure the hem-band in position.

Here is the finished skirt:

Pattern: Ready Ruthie Dolores Pocket Skirt = From stash
Fabric: 1 metre of vintage cotton = From stash
Zip: 12" green concealed zip = From stash
Interfacing: From stash
Gutterman Thread: Dark green & brown from stash

Total: Free!

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Wool BnB

Last week was National Wool Week and I found out about the Campaign for Wool after some internet surfing. It turns out that a townhouse in Islington has been completely refurbished with wool products in every room. Decorated by interior stylist Karina Garrick with a vast number of artists, designers and British Wool Makers products ranging from carpets, mattresses, bedding, artwork and clothing.

The Wool BnB was open to the public this weekend and my friend Alex and I visited on Saturday morning. We almost had the place to ourselves but as we were nearing the end of our stay it was beginning to get a little busier.

I will leave you with a range of photographs I took of the many beautiful, fun and humorous woollen items made by weaving, knitting, felting or tufting.

Hand knitted throws on bed by Melanie Porter
Full English Breakfast knitted wool installation by Jessica Dance
Full English Breakfast knitted wool installation by Jessica Dance
Full English Breakfast knitted wool installation by Jessica Dance
Merino wool wall art by Jacqueline Fink
Felted plant pot holders by Aveva Designs

Alex catching up on the latest in wool news!
It was a really fun and inspirational event. The colourful interiors certainly brightened up a dull and dreary October morning.

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Art Macabre at the Tower of London

My good friend Alex invited me along to a rather splendid life drawing event at the Tower of London last night with the company Art Macabre. This is a description of the event from the website:

Blood and Jewels
 Explore the myths and legends surrounding some of the world’s most fabulous jewels in this glittering after-hours event at the Tower of London; such as the brazen attempted theft by Colonel Blood. Sketch contemporary fantastical crowns by designer maker Hysteria Machine and capture Kika von Macabre in all her glory in the Medieval Palace at the Tower of London. Draw a skull-faced catacomb saint bedecked in glistening gold and pearls.

I arrived at the Tower just as dusk was setting and the darkening skies lead to a suitably spooky atmosphere. After drinks in the education centre of the Tower (and the obligatory H&S chat) we collected boards and paper ready for our drawing adventure.

Three rooms were adorned with candles, cushions and atmospheric music to add to the ambience of the space. There was a choice of two live models who had the most amazing costumes and striking face make-up was which stunning visual inspiration.

Here are my sketches from the evening. The poses were fairly fast with the longest sketch 25 minutes long.
I really enjoyed the evening and found I got really into sketching onto black paper using conte pencils in white, gold and silver with black charcoal to create depth. It was a fun exercise in loosening up my drawing style and focussing on 3D form as apposed to line.

5 minute sketch
15 minute sketch
Anybody notice an unintentional yet striking resemblance to a certain King of Pop?
10 minute sketch
25 minute sketch
I would certainly attend another drawing event with Art Macabre at the Tower of London to practise my drawing skills.

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Out of Control

Help! My WIP (work-in-progress) or UFO (unfinished object) pile has got a little out of hand. As is the case with many sewing enthusiasts, we optimistically cut out projects thinking that we will find an hour here or there to sew them together. This summer I got waylaid with my house renovation. Instead of sewing my WIP's I was re-painting the garage floor or sanding and painting balcony railings... the list of DIY jobs I had was endless (and I still need to finish a few before Christmas).

The mad thing is that I now have a huge pile of seasonally inappropriate garments cut out.

First up is my 'summer' dressing gown...

The Buchanan pattern was gifted to me by my friend Sophie. I imported the blue Paul Frank fabric from Hong Kong a couple of years ago and the red cotton contrast collar and cuff also comes from my stash. I don't think it will take too long to sew up, but I won't really wear it until the spring.

Next up is a summer dress. The Dixie DIY Bonnell dress was enthusiastically cut out in July. I had high hopes of sauntering around London in this lovely red viscose beauty but alas it didn't happen. The fabric was a bargain £2.00 a metre from a stall on Chapel Street Market in Islington.

Onto a fun summery seperate, the Liesl & Co Everyday Skirt. This is my second version and I am really looking forward to wearing this black and white one (whenever that will be!). The viscose fabric was from the spring sale at John Lewis at £7 per metre.

This next garment is about 90% completed. It is the Colette Laurel shift dress. Despite the beautiful Liberty Tana Lawn fabric called Kinetic, I lost my sew-jo with the back fastening and the neckline. I am sure I could finish this in about half an hour but as its a lightweight cotton dress, it won't really be worn until the spring!

My last WIP is something that I could wear this season. I cut it out at the end of the summer after rediscovering this awesome vintage fabric I've had for about ten years. I strongly suspect it was probably some curtains in its previous life but with just over a metre I was limited to what garment I could make with this crazy print.

The added complication of the missing corner restricted the choice of garment even more. As luck would have it the Ready Ruthie Dolores Pocket Skirt fitted quite well!

Not enough fabric for perfect pattern matching. Instead I chose selection of the main motifs found on the skirt to balance out the pattern. What pockets? 
Some organic cotton from my stash worked perfectly for the pocket linings and hem facing. I didn't stop there. The darker autumnal colours matched perfectly with a metre of olive green silk I have had in my stash since my Textiles Degree (over 20 years ago) so I splashed out and cut the lining in silk!

That makes five part completed works in progress. I hope to get some of these sewn up soon, especially the vintage fabric Dolores Pocket Skirt as I can see myself wearing this for work.

Have you got any WIP's or UFO's that are hanging around too long?