Friday, 18 August 2017

Sew Over It Alex Shirt Dress

I signed up to the Sew Over It Alex Shirt Dress class when there was a 20% off everything promotion a while ago. I opted for the Islington branch as it is much nearer where I live and work. I bought it as an end of term treat after a crazy academic year. I have the skills to make this dress without the need of attending a class but I wanted to use a drapy viscose fabric and I thought it would be nice to have some hand-holding along the way.

Enter the fabric. A fabulous viscose from Stoff and Stil which I bought a while ago after Karen, Foldline, Jane and a whole bunch of other lovely sewing bloggers visited the headquarters and were given a discount code for everybody to use. It is an abstract print with dark charcoal grey, navy, black, white and pink splodges, brushmarks and dashes all over it. I love it. It also has a good weight to it as well.

I began by making a few alterations on the paper pattern straight away. As with all patterns I added 4cm to the sleeve length (even though the style is to roll them up). I also moved the pocket placement up by 2cm because it seemed to sit better on my bust area. The length of the shirt dress is very long even for my 172cm height standards so I left that as it was.

Before I cut out the pattern I pinned the selvedges of the folded fabric all the way down the length to keep it from slipping. This helped enormously when cutting out the shirt back which is on the fold. You could alternatively cut them out flat. I took my time with the construction of the shirt. Pinning then hand basting carefully to avoid any slippage of fabric. I think my efforts paid off as I really like the final dress.

I am really happy with my choice of buttons. I took a trip to Ray Stitch in Islington as I know they have a very good selection of buttons. I wanted something very plain and had chosen completely colourless buttons when at the last minute I spotted these soft pink translucent versions of the same button which I think works SO much better. I used some pink thread from my grandma's stash to continue the pink theme!

The hem was finished with self-made bias tape which took quite a while to make and I will cover that in another blogpost as I took step-by-step photos along the way.

Finally, the finished dress. I styled it with and without a belt and I think I prefer the silhouette in this particular fabric with a belt.
What do you think folks?

I will certainly make another Alex Shirt Dress when I find the right fabric. I don't have any fluid fabrics in my stash at the moment so I will keep an eye out for just the right one over the next few months. I am not in a hurry to buy any new stuff though as I have a whole heap to use before I can allow myself to buy more!

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Re-fashioned Bettine Top

This project started life as a Tilly and the Buttons Bettine dress that I made in 2016. I didn't really get on with the exaggerated tulip style skirt as it was too wide around the hip area (and being pear shaped seemed to make it worse) so I decided to take it in at each side seam.

I took it in too much and now it was too TIGHT! Unfortunately I had already removed the excess seam allowance so when I wore the dress it used to ride up to what I would consider cheekily short proportions. Evidenced in this photo below (I always had to wear it with leggings to save my blushes). Yes, this dress is supposed to be around knee length!

It sat in my wardrobe unloved until yesterday when I had an idea to re-fashion it into a top. I carefully unpicked the waist seam and removed the elastic waistband. 

At this stage after trying the top on I realised that with an additional couple of cm's removed for the hem I would be left with a VERY short crop top. If it was 20 years ago I would have certainly gone ahead with a cropped style but in my mid 40's you have to consider the mental health of others and avoid flashing a pasty white un-toned belly at people......

Long story short, I created a bias band using the cut-off skirt section to mirror the bias cut cuff of the sleeves. I wore it today on an adventure to Dalston Curve Gardens and I loved it!

Here are some lovely shots of the fabulous Dalston Eastern Curve Gardens just two minutes walk from Dalston Junction train station. A secret oasis of gardening magic and a chilled out and calm atmosphere.

Large scale outdoor cross-stitch tapestry at the back of this planter is awesome!

Disco greenhouse!

The opening hours are from 11am - 10pm and there is a small cafe to buy homemade food and hot drinks. My friend Charlotte and I enjoyed a pot of tea sitting on outside sofas like this awesome one below!


Overall a lovely day! Have you re-fashioned a not-so-great hand-made into something better recently? 

Talking of re-fashioning.... are you going to join in with the Refashioners 2017 this year? 
Portia at the Makery is running the challenge again this year and the theme is 'Suits'. I think I'm going to give this one a miss and concentrate on working through my own stash of patterns, fabrics and half-made clothing!

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

CJ Made Five Year Blogiversary Giveaway!

I can't believe it has been five years since I started this blog. I have blogged through the not-so-terrible two's, blasted through years three and four and have found myself celebrating my five year blogiversary this August!

To celebrate I have gathered a crafty collection of items for you to enjoy. All you need to do to be in with a chance to win these goodies is to follow my blog (if you don't already do so) and write a comment about what you would like to make with some of the items.
The competition is open worldwide so make sure you leave your email address in your comment so I can contact you if you win! I will select a winner on Friday 18th August.

 What will you win?

  • Two packets of beautifully patterned Japanese origami paper
  • Seven skeins of Mouline Stranded embroidery thread
  • Three rolls of gingham ribbon from Tiger
  • 16 rolls of assorted patterned washi tape
  • Paperchase New York themed post-it / stickies
  • Packet of 12 pencil crayons from Tiger
  • Cute vintage 1979 'Understanding Dress' sewing book by Margaret Picton
  • Vogue vintage 1960's dress pattern 6510
  • Simplicity K1609 Jiffy shift dress pattern
  • Butterick B6332 lifestyle wardrobe pattern
  • Two mini Bella Solids patchwork packs
  • Assorted Bella Solids patchwork squares 

The illustrations in the book are so lovely!

Good luck!

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Japanese inspired Buchanans!

After making my Paul Frank dressing gown using Gather's Buchanan Dressing Gown pattern I have had a few requests from friends to make them one of their very own.

First up is for a friend I am visiting in San Francisco next week. She bought me this beautiful double sided Japanese cotton from Tokyo with instructions to make something nice out of it.
The fabric is a mid-weight cotton which is printed with pretty red cherry blossoms on one side then a geometric sashiko-style print on the reverse. Mel now has a lovely dressing gown to remember her fab Tokyo trip!
Due to fabric restrictions I had to slightly shorten the length of the dressing gown but as she is a good couple of inches shorter then me I think it will be perfect for her. 

My next make is for my boyfriend's sister, Karen. She absolutely LOVES pandas and when I saw this fabric I knew it had to be a Buchanan dressing gown for her too! In 2005 Mel, Karen, Chris (my bf) and myself visited Tokyo and saw pandas in Ueno zoo. Karen was in her element!

Detail shots of both dressing gowns:

I added ribbon into the seam on the panda version so you can tie the dressing gown closed to prevent the inner front from slipping down. I only thought of this modification after completing the red cherry blossom version. It's a nice idea that I will use for future Buchanan's.

I am really happy with how these dressing gowns turned out. The construction was so much easier having made one before and I used French Seams again throughout for a neater finish. It is the perfect pattern for a gift and I already have ideas for my sister-in-law for her Christmas present. If I start now maybe it will be finished in time for December!

Do you have a go-to sewing pattern for gifts?

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Michael Brennand-Wood Workshop

Michael Brennand-Wood
Michael Brennand-Wood
Ever since seeing one of Michael Brennand-Wood's art pieces at Cartwright Hall in Bradford in 2007 I have been a big fan of his eclectic style. Born in Bolton he knew from an early age that he loved making and creating with all types of materials. His grandparents were a major influence in his fascination with making as they taught him sewing, embroidery and engineering skills. You can see this juxtaposition of delicacy and more brutal elements in his work.

I spotted a July workshop with Michael at the Selvedge shop in Archway earlier in the year I didn't hesitate to book it as a end of school term treat. The theme of the workshop was 'Lines of Thought'. He started by discussing his work, showed us amazing experiments and some of his final art pieces. The main focus of the day was to just be free to try things out and have fun.

Here are some of the art pieces he showed us for inspiration:

There were five of us on the workshop and after seeing the above art pieces we were raring to go.
I started by wrapping a wooden frame with threads, ribbons, fabric and washi tape.

Then I began adding string, beads, ribbon, washi tape, paper maps and wires.

The workshop was lots of fun. We all enjoyed using the hand drill to twist wires to trap and wrap threads, fabrics and other textures. It has been a great taster for experimentation and exploring the properties of different materials that I am sure to develop further in the future.

Check out lots of other cool crafty blogs at #handmademonday organised by Julia of Sum of their Stories.