Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Craftaganza: What I bought

On Saturday, I helped out at the first Brighton Craftaganza craft maket, organised by Lisa and Steph from U Handbag and the lovely Zoe from So Zo....

It was a really good day, long, but really good fun.  Energy levels were topped up with regular doses of coffee and some of the best sausage rolls I have ever eaten!

I may of had a smidgeon of a browse whilst I was there, and did purchase a couple of bits.

Firstly I got this awesome ring made from the end of a teaspoon from Ai Ijiima

I also bought something from Rosy Appleton.  This lady hand weaves ner own fabric on her loom, seriously!  Her cushions were so lovely, but I went for this super cute pin cushion.

Last up I bought something from Cherie from My Three Trees.  I can't show you a pic of this though as it's a gift for someone, who may read this blog post!

There were so many other great stalls, and lots of things I wanted to buy, but alas my bank balance wouldn't let me. 

Sunday, 27 March 2011

My plan to prevent distraction

I’ve recently updated my planned projects page, to give it more of a structure, and to provide me with some guidance.  I’m very easily distracted and have a lot of project ideas on the go that don’t take shape.  Here is just a smidgeon of the ideas i have whizzing around my brain:
  • Green cord beignet skirt, I’ve got the pattern but as yet no fabric of buttons.  I originally intended to make this in denim but changed my mind.  Might change it again soon.
  • Flowery blouse from my Japanese pattern book.  I can only start this after buying some double gauze from this website that I first heard about through Jane’s blog.  It has to be from this site because if I’m making a Japanese pattern I must use Japanese fabric (duh!).
  • Sashiko cushion cover, now this one’s actually partially completed, but again not finished.  I bought a cutting mat and rotary cutter to start me off in the patch-working world but have yet to use them.

  • Jenny skirt, got pattern, got wearable muslin fabric, but got stuck on fitting and then quit
  • Jenny dress, got the pattern, got the fabric yonks ago online, but can’t start it until I’ve made the skirt.
  • Men’s ties and shirt front cushion for John inspired by this.  Bought sod all for this one.
  • Work bag for summer.  No fabric in mind but I decided on this free pattern
  • Danielle dress, one for work one for play.  Bought some green cotton drill (wearable muslin), a grey blue cotton (work) and some purple cotton sateen (play), but got stuck on my FBA.  This is a good contender for nailing an FBA as the dress itself is very simple, and can be adapted by not including the sleeves, and /or giving it a more a-line look using these instructions.  I think if I got this pattern down and made it a few times it would really boost my confidence in pattern adjustment
Out of all of these Danielle and Beignet are serious contenders for actual make-attempts once summer is over, but garment making is low on my list of priorities at the moment.

I think my main problem is I have no clear plan. It’s all very well to get inspired by others creations, or pretty fabrics in shops or online, but if I don’t have deadlines or timetables to follow I fall apart.  Sometimes I can have a crazy productive streak and sit down for 2 days and bash something out, but I need to schedule my sewing time into my life in a realistic and consistent way.
Here’s what I actually need to make in the next few months:

exterior and lining fabrics
2 coin purses for friends/family birthdays in April.
Grey leafy skirt.  I posted about this a while back and have all the pieces cut.  I want to be able to wear this in the summer and hopefully to a friend’s baby’s christening in April so it’s gotta get sewn up soon.

Craft bag, using my Echino fabric, as I need to actually show something I’ve made recently on this darn blog, just to prove I am actually a sewer.

colour palette
Embroidered christening gift using this free pattern.  Hopefully easy to complete as I can do this in the evenings whilst watching tele.  Also I want to get into my embroidery more.  I find it very calming and therapeutic to do which is good as and I can be a big ball of stress quite a lot of the time.

Picnic blanket made from souvenir tea towels.  I’ve got half the tea towels needed, and am scouring ebay for the rest.  The actual making process should be fairly straightforward, again the rotary cutter will be most handy here.  I have to make this before summer starts, or at least before it ends!!!  Hopefully by the royal wedding for Hove Lawn lunch frolics

Pyjama bottoms.  Not an urgent make as days are getting warmer here in Brighton, but my main pair of jammy bottoms have worn out and I like to slouch around in them when at home.  Bought a pattern, not bought the fabric but reckon it’ll be this flannel.

Wish me luck!

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Istanbul Bargaining

Well I’ve been away for a few days, being a classic tourist in Istanbul.  We ate a lot of kebabs, did a fair amount of sightseeing and did a little bit of shopping.

One of my favourite places in Istanbul was the Grand Bazaar, a massive indoor market of shops and stalls selling everything including carpets (lots and lots of carpets), leather jackets, soap, lamps and various trinkets.  My boyfriend John is an unbelievable bargainer, I have never seen anything like it. He honed this particular skill when travelling around Morocco for a few months with friends a few years ago.  His philosophy is that there is little point in shopping unless you can negotiate a good price.  Where’s the fun otherwise?  After watching him wear down one shopkeeper to the point he almost walked off in a frustrated huff knowing he’d reached his lowest price, and then shaking hands with another shopkeeper who loved John for his banter and bargaining skills (we were then invited to check out his very good denim shop and carpet shop too, but had to decline) I knew I needed to get in on the action, so went in search of what I truly desired, fabric.

I found a few fabric shops within the bazaar and went rummaging.  They had a lot of cheap cotton rolls at the front, very bright colours but poor quality.  But when you wandered into the depths of the shops you discovered all sorts of lovely things.  They had silks and satins and wools, lots of embroidered pashminas and blankets, so much fabric it was overwhelming.  I find fabric shopping a bit intimidating at the best of times, so stuck with the brief of cotton, and only cotton.  And I found this fabric straight away. 
It’s a lovely cotton, quite drapery but with a good weight, as the touts would say “very good quality, nice price”.  It worked out about £6 a metre and I got 3 metres.  Good for a summer dress, or vintage pattern shirt waist dress methinks.

Then at the counter I spotted a lovely lush red fabric with cream flowers dotted about, but when the shop keeper took it down from the shelf to show me it was a polyester that was so synthetic it felt like plastic.  I was so disappointed and the shop keeper was so keen to help me find something he rushed off to find a similar thing in cotton.  But he brought back a bright pink fabric with a grey paisley pattern, not exactly what I was looking for!  Then a colleague got involved and disappeared further into the shop and came back with a nice red cotton but with a very large flower pattern.  It was a lot closer to the fabric which had caught my eye, but still not right, Then I got ushered into another shop next door to look around, but which ultimately had nothing I wanted in there.  Finally I gave up, feeling rather guilty for all the effort they’d gone to.  Then when re-entering the original shop to buy the first cotton I’d found I looked up and saw this:
Well then I knew I wanted this one, and it was cotton (phew, although I think it may be a poly mix).  John by this point had reached the end of his tether (20 minutes hovering in a very compact fabric shop is too much for even the most patient man) but he still managed to knock the price down by 5 Turkish Lire a metre (I got 2 metres of this one and am thinking a blouse would be good), and I was proclaimed “a very good explorer” by the shop keeper so all in all a good days shopping!

Istanbul itself is very East meets West. Fascinating and hectic, historical and modern. Here are a few touristy snapshots of our trip to enjoy.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

The reason why I haven't made any dresses recently


Or to be more precise, the cursed fact that patterns are made for a bust size about 100 times smaller than my own.  I actually decided to start sewing my own clothes because all the cute little summer dresses I liked never fitted me, blouses and shirts I wanted to buy always gaped and showed things they shouldn’t, and I resented having to buy clothes that didn’t fit properly or splash my cash on speciality companies' clothes which cost a lot more.  I wanted to make things that fitted me properly!

Now the irony is that my bust is again the thing holding me back from making all the dresses I have bought patterns for, such as the ones below.

To explain why involves 2 examples of things I have made that don’t quite work [in my opinion anyway].

Exhibit A

This is the very first piece of clothing I made, which I completed in the sewing class I was going to at the time.  It’s view A of Burda 7798.

Apart from finishing the neckline it was pretty easy to sew.  The neckline was basically bias bound but the way they instructed you to do it had me totally confused and even both of my teachers were head scratching and furrowing their brows for a couple of minutes before they figured it out.

But anyway back to the problem.  I made no adjustments to the pattern even though I knew the bodice might not fit my bust, but it was my first ever garment so I just wanted to get on with the sewing.

The bodice should end just below the bust (empire line stylee) but in my case it stops about 2/3rds of the way down.  And it isn't exactly roomy for me either.

It’s not massively visible, but I know the seam is there!  Plus it just doesn’t sit right on me; I can feel it even if it doesn’t show that badly.  I wear this dress at home but have only worn it out once.  It just felt too weird and uncomfortable, like I was basically wandering around naked, so it has not got past my front door ever again!

Exhibit B

Now this dress I made all by myself. from New Look 6557.

This pic was taken during the same "shoot" as my reversible apron, and was taken at the point when my boyfriend got bored and wanted to try taking pics from strange angles.  You can see from the expression on my face how much I was enjoying this!

This dress was also actually surprisingly easy to make, apart from a fiddly facing turning inside out weird bit about half-way through.  It's also really nice, and i do like quite a few of the different bodice views (especially view E).

On this dress I knew the bodice would fall far too high on my bust so planned ahead and bought myself a pattern fitting book and did a full bust adjustment (ah ha, take that B-cup patterns!).

Here’s a pic of it, looks fancy right?

Now to also try and be all big and clever I did a toile / muslin / prototype [whatever you want to call it], of the main bodice.

The first one still hit me too high on the bust, but was pretty good in terms of boob coverage.  So I did another, bigger full bust adjustment and tried again.  Now the second prototype was made, and alarm bells should have rung.  The bodice is gathered to make it look all pretty and the FBA made tonnes of extra gathering, too much in fact on prototype 2.  But it fit fine length-wise. 

BTW, The FBA I used was from the book Fit for Real People, by Pati Palmer & Marta Alto.  It gives you width and length but ultimately keeps the side seams the same length so they still match with back pieces, and I think it is a good method to use.

What is should have done now was keep FBA 1 from prototype 1 but increase the length of the bodice a smidge.  Only then it wouldn’t have matched up at the side seams with the back bodice.  So I didn’t do that as it confused me.

So instead the dress was made with FBA 2 and alas, I feel like there is too much bagginess in the gathering.  It makes my bust look at least and inch bigger just because of the extra fabric. 
Well I did wear this dress on holiday (but have no pics to prove it), but wore it only once as again I felt like a weirdo, and was just constantly paranoid everyone “knew” I was wearing a home made dress (as if that is something to scorn and stigmatise someone for)!  In reality if anyone knew it was homemade (but how would they “know”?) I doubt they would have run up to me pointing and yelling and shooing me off like I carried the plague, but I just felt like they would!

And since then I’ve been too scared to make any dresses.  Admittedly both dresses are a bit long so I feel a bit frumpy in them, and should really adjust the hems.  But I hate hemming so haven't bothered yet. 

The whole FBA process has totally confused me though.  I know I need to add a bit more length after doing an FBA, but do I extend the back bodice pieces too, because surely that’ll make the bodice slant backwards.  If I don't make the back longer then how do I match the side seams of the back and front bodice, as the front bodice will be longer than the back?  And what about any waist or skirt pieces (depending on the pattern) that attach to the bodice.  Do I need to shorten them to account for lengthening the bodice?

Oh I don’t know and my head hurts just thinking about it.  Curse you B cup pattern makers, you’ve beaten me.

Can anyone offer advice on this issue?  As it is seriously holding me back at the mo.  I love dresses and to make my own, that I can wear down the road and not feel self conscious in, would be lovely.

Saturday, 5 March 2011

A completed project, and my first photo "shoot" experience

You may have noticed I am all talk when it comes to sewing.  I have a million ideas milling around in my head, but I don't record them or complete them very much.  I plan to sort out my planning and organisation in the coming weeks.  But in the meantime please enjoy this project I made earlier (last summer in fact).

I made this apron from a Sew Liberated Emmeline pattern and is reversible.  This side is a Michael Miller print.  Check out the other side:
It was pretty easy to make but took ages, also I had to make the bodice bit a bit longer so the "waist" fit below my bust.  It also involved a lot of top-stitching.  I altered the neck strap and added D rings to make it adjustable, in the pattern the neck straps need to tied-up into a bow like the waist ties.

This is also the first time I've had pictures of me on my blog.  I hate having my photo taken (all I see in these pics is massive hamster cheeks and frizzy hair, yuk) but if I'm going to have a sewing blog I am going to have to get used to it pretty soon!

Anyway this is what I learnt from my first photo shoot
  1. Don't ask the boyfriend to take your picture 5 minutes after he has started playing a new computer game, this is bad timing and will cause annoyance
  2. Don't spend the following 5 minutes preening yourself in a mirror as this causes more annoyance and leads to questions as to why you disturbed the boyfriend in the first place
  3. Don't ask him to take the same picture 5 times just because you believe you are un-photogenic and think all previous photos were rubbish
  4. Don't get annoyed if he gets bored and starts trying to make "arty" shots by photographing you at weird angles and taking advantage of the "natural sunlight" (that, coincidentally came out just as we started "shooting")
  5. Iron the item you are planning to photograph
  6. Do your hair beforehand!!!
  7. Lose weight (the camera actually adds about a stone!!)
  8. Relax and smile more

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

What should Laura make with this? No. 1

I have a confession to make.

When I first had sewing lessons and actually managed to make a couple of things, I might have got a tad over excited about the prospect of being able to sew.  Soon after the course finished I went on a bit of a splurge [read massive huuuge ridiculous splurge] and bought a lot of fabric and quite a few patterns, with no real focus or forethought behind said purchases. 

I then hit a few hurdles over recent months, one being having no time to sew due to struggling to find time to study whilst working, the other being an issue to do with pattern fitting which I will cover in another post soon, so have not really made much in the way of clothing (although I have made plenty of other things).  As a result most of the patterns have remained untouched, as has the fabric.

I feel quite guilty about this now, as my bank balance is suffering somewhat, and I don’t feel I’ve really justified my purchasing by being productive and actually making things.

A lot of the fabric I bought because I thought it was nice, and had no plan in my head of what I was going to do with it.  Now I have banned myself from buying any more fabric or patterns until I have used up some of my existing stash and made use of a pattern or two that I already own.

Therefore in an effort to be more productive with my existing stash I am planning to make this theme “What should Laura make with this?” a regular feature on my blog, and am hoping my readers and followers will offer advice and suggestions of what to do with each item I post about.

Note: simple projects are preferred at the moment, just because there’s more chance I will find time to make them which increases the likelihood that you might actually get to see me post about the finished result!

So for post No. 1 in this series I have decided to start with two lengths of fabric.

The first is a 1/2 metre piece of linen/cotton blend fabric by Echino which I bought in sale at M is for Make.
Pink isn’t really my colour but I loved the design so thought I’d snap it up while it was on offer.  I was thinking of turning it into a bag, maybe for my embroidery bits and bobs, as I don’t see me using a pink bag on a regular basis when going out and about.  However I have no bag pattern in mind, and am also open to alternative suggestions about what I could do with this.  If you have any recommendations of good bag patterns (preferably simple in design and free in price), or other things (home dec, accessories and clothing ideas welcome) please let me know.

The second fabric is 3 metres of medium weight cotton I bought in Ikea back in October. 

At the time I thought it would make curtains for the bedroom in our new flat, but for reasons I won’t go into that’s not a viable option (not least because 3 metres is nowhere near enough fabric to cover the windows!!)

The design on this one is quite big, see the pic below for an idea of scale, so its not ideal for clothing – but if you disagree do say so as I am open to all suggestions.
The vague idea I had was to maybe make a bedspread, but I’ve never done patchwork or quilting before and again the design is so big I’d have to keep the fabric pieces quite large.  I am keen to hear any ideas here as I think it’s a funky design, also the pinky parts match the colour of the walls in our bedroom (our flat’s rented so I can’t repaint them even if I wanted to). 

Right that's the end of post 1.  Can't wait to read your suggestions!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...