Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Staying cool

Hello my dear readers, I hope you've been enjoying the summer so far. The hubby and I have just arrived back from our little break in Sicily, and we had a lovely time. 

The weather was hot and dry there, so I feel that my body has stored up enough vitamin D now for a while :) 

In addition to eating Granita, which is Sicilian's answer to shaved ice/slushies/sorbet, I brought my new silk dress to help me stay cool. 

Yep, this is my second version of the Burda Jamie Shift Dress. Remember my first version in viscose? I had grown to love the silhouette, and thanks to all your helpful comments I decided not to bother with a belt. Now I love it so much that I made another one! 

I started making this the weekend before we went to Sicily, as I realised that I needed something to keep me cool. This was just the number, as the Jamie pattern is nice and loose, great for letting air circulate around the body, and the silk fabric is natural, breathable, and extremely lightweight. 

The silk was a purchase from my recent trip to Dubai, from the fabric souk. It was a mere £4 per metre, and was sold as "Indian silk". I think it's a silk charmuse. I loved the "tribal" pattern and the lovely colourful border (despite what my lovely husband tells me - over the years I've learned to selectively listen to him :p), and as soon as I saw it I knew what I wanted to make with it. 


And the beauty of using the colourful border/selvage this way is that I didn't need to hem the dress. Result. 

Another reason I used the Jamie Dress pattern is that I realised from my last version that I didn't need the zip to get in and out. I didn't want to have to match the pattern on this slippery fabric, and I worry about seam slippage as it is, let alone with a zip. So the dress is only made up of 2 pattern pieces! Super easy. I think it only took me an afternoon from laying out, cutting to finishing the seams (with my new overlocker!)
I didn't make any additional alterations since the last attempt, as it fitted well. One issue I ran into was the bias binding - as it was such a soft and drapy fabric, making self fabric bias tape with this was near impossible. In the end I used a leftover cotton lawn that I had which was very lightweight, and it did the trick. Note to self - do not try and make bias tape with silk charmuse again. 


So that's all I've got to say about this. It was a simple project, and one that I could see coming together before my eyes as soon as I spotted the fabric at the souk. I just love how the border "pop". That said, I think the fabric choice/placement may be an acquired taste. Practically, though, the beautiful silk and the loose fit did wonders at keeping me cool in the heat, so I think it was a successful project :)




What about you? Are you making last minute holiday wear, too? Or busy sewing in anticipation of the "heat wave"? 

Sunday, 29 June 2014

A touch of neon, in lace...

Hello, all, I hope you are having an enjoyable weekend. I was in Edinburgh for the long weekend, the main purpose of which was to attend a wedding yesterday. It was truly a beautiful day, and it was so lovely to see the sweetest couple tie their knot. 

We've just got back home now, and I couldn't wait to share my wedding guest outfit with you. 

You have probably guessed from just looking at the dress that it was another Mccalls 2401 make!! What I can say, whenever I lay my hands on some slightly stretchy material, that is the first pattern that pops into my head. It is perfect for so many occasions, and attending wedding is certainly one of them. 

The fabric is an interesting one. Fabricland described it as a jersey, which is completely true, but the lace is not a print, but an additional layer that's "glued" on top. I think the lace layer is less stretchy than the jersey itself, so it ended up being quite a stable fabric, but with a bit of give. My favourite type!

I loved the lace, and the colour -- kind of pink, kind of coral, but with a touch of neon to it. How very on trend? 
What a lovely spot to tie the knot! 

The best thing about using a tried and tested pattern is that you could "whip up" a dress in no time, as no additional effort is required to adjust the fit. I used my normal sewing machine, with a ball point needle, and despite the fabric being jersey, it sewed up in straight stitches without any issue, as the stretch goes from left to right (very handy!) and this pattern doesn't contain a vertical seam. There's not much more to say about the construction, but if you did want to refer to what adjustments I made to the original pattern, please click on the tag Mccalls 2401 below which will bring up my 3, yes 3, other versions. 

A photo of the bias facing for the neckline and armhole -- I really like the lace and stripes combination. You might be able to see what I mean with the fabric more, here.  


So that's it, the loyal little pattern strikes yet again, this time in an interesting fabric. How do you feel about neon colours? How "neon" would you go? I would love to hear from you.   

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Giveaway winners

Hello! I hope this post finds you all very well. It's time to announce the winners of the giveaway:

The winners picked at random are:


Congratulations ladies! Katy and Alex from AlexSwfit Designs will be in touch with you shortly.  

In the meantime, I hope you all have a lovely weekend.  



Sunday, 8 June 2014

Garment District and last week of the GIVEAWAY









Greetings from the Big Apple! So I shopped the Garment District, and it was downright fabulous! Just a few snaps to share with you today. 

Also a reminder that the wonderful GIVEAWAY is closing in just a week's time, so if you haven't entered, please feel free to do so not only for a chance to win some fabulous handmade goodies, but also to support a great little independent shop that is just starting up. 

This is at Fabric for Less, where I bought 2 beautiful pieces of viscose/rayon (more on that later).
 

The fullest fabric shop I've ever been in, and trust me, I have been to the fabric shops on Brick Lane! (It's next to AK Fabrics on West 39th, although I can't for the life of me remember its name, the shop owner described it as a "fabric garden"). 

Gray Line Linen -- although I didn't buy anything from there, I could see that it is a perfect place to go if you need anything linen. I even saw some jute runners, which might do as stair runners with some modification? I digress. 

Here's some fabric that I bought:

Three pieces of cotton jersey, in different weight. Yep, I play with knit now! More on that another time. 

Some beautiful rayon from Fabric for Less -- you can actually see the red one on the roll in the picture above. The green one? I'm sorry if you like it, too, as I finished the roll with my 3 yard purchase. I think it would make a beautiful dressing gown - something different, eh? 

The stretch fabric, lining, and the rose print rayon (with some body, which I have earmarked for a dress with some structure) are all from AK Fabrics, together with some sweatshirt fabric. 
In addition to the fabric, I also bought some rayon seam binding, which is very hard to come by in the UK. 

The shops that were most successful in getting me to open my purse are Pacific Trimming and AK Fabrics, because of their great variety of stock, and the extremely helpful and knowledgeable staff. I also made purchases from Chic Fabric and Fabric for Less, both of which are apparently owned by the same people, though I found the former to be much better in terms of service. But hey, when I can get beautiful viscoseon/ray for a $5 per yard, how can I complain?

So all in all, it was a very fruitful trip to the Garment District, and a great day indeed (I also fitted in comfortably the High Line, New York Public Library, Macy's, and managed to catch a brilliant musical, After Midnight.). No complaint from me whatsoever (apart from tired feet)! 


 

That's all from me for now. Until next time, happy sewing! And if you get a break, make sure you don't miss out on the giveaway

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

My first maxi skirt - a vintage make, and help please!

Hello my dear readers, I hope you are having a good week and are looking forward to the weekend. I'm flying off to NYC on Friday for a quick weekend break, before heading to Houston for a week on a work trip. I'm super excited about NYC, not to mention the fabric shopping in the Garment District all day on Saturday (I'm writing a long list, and bringing my big suitcase), and am pretty happy about the work trip - it will be a nice change.  

I have something a bit different to share with you today. I made my first ever maxi skirt! It's not just the first maxi skirt that I've made, but also my first maxi skirt altogether. It's not that I don't like maxi skirts, in fact I love the look, but I was never convinced that I could pull it off. Being a petite person I didn't want to be drowned in it, but lately I've decided to be brave, mainly as they look so damn comfy, and I kept seeing them in fashion magazines right, left and centre. 

So here is my version: 

Although I really like the look of fuller maxi skirts, I didn't think they would suit my small frame. Instead, I opted for a slimmer silhouette, and used a vintage pattern, Butterick 5884, as a base. Marie-I hope I'm making you proud ;)



I was lucky enough to win this pattern from the Sew Grateful giveaway on Gloria & Me, and I am very grateful indeed! Isn't this a beautiful pattern? This is actually the first unprinted vintage pattern that I've worked with - in fact, I had no idea they even existed until I saw them on the Great British Sewing Bee, so you can imagine my excitement when I laid my hands on this little beauty!   



Here's the instructions to de-code to the secret language, and they were very helpful! 

As you may have worked out by yourself based on the above, the skirt is cut on the bias. The main alteration I made was to lengthen the skirt by 8 inches or so, to make it a maxi length.

I'm sitting in front of a 13th century bridge, 5 mins walk from my house. Doesn't it look incredible for its age? This was the starting point of a beautiful riverside walk, and I love taking a stroll there on a sunny day, even if I felt a bit overdressed for it! 


And this is the Common Meadow that follows: 


What's the fabric, I hear you ask? You may remember the little tale that I told you last week in the Jamie shift dress post, and this is indeed the matching blue viscose that was the other side of the equation. It is even more drapy when cut on the bias, and not to mention really comfortable to wear. 

I even made French seams on the inside for the delicate fabric, and I love how neat it looks on the inside. The other good news is that I finally feel happy with working with viscose, after some puckering issues in the past. To sum it all up, I think the tricks are:


  1. Use a smaller needle - I used a size 70 this time, but switched to a 90 (normal) when sewing more than 2 layers of fabric together.  
  2. Larger stitches - I increased the stitch length to between 3 and 4 on my machine
  3. Very loose tension - I turned the dial down to almost 1, and I suspect this was the main reason behind the puckering issues previously as I only used to turn this down to around the 3 mark, as my machine manual suggested. But this time I thought, what's the point of having the scale all the way down to 1 if I wasn't going to use it? and it worked! 
With the beautiful drapiness there came problems, though, and for this, I need your help! 


Can you see the bunching around the zip on the left side seam (right on the photo)? And here's a close up from the side:


And from the front:

Not attractive.  The worst part is, I saw this whole thing coming. The fabric is quite a thin one, and as the pieces were cut on the bias, it stretches out of shape easily. So before I inserted the lapped zipper, I strengthened the seams with some grosgrain ribbon to prevent this... and it hasn't worked, even after unpicking and re-attaching the zip 4 times :(    

So, any help you could offer either to help me fix it or prevent it from happening again would be very much appreciated!   

Despite the issue, I am pleased with how the maxi skirt has turned out, and teamed with a cropped top (the top I'm wearing is not actually a cropped one, I just tied it at the front for the effect), I don't think it shrunk me any more than my "normal" clothes... I think I will be able to look past the bunching issue, and wear this skirt again. At the end of the day, who stares at your hip when you walk past anyway?

  

That's all for now folks, and as always, it would be great to hear from you! 

Saturday, 31 May 2014

Burda Jamie Shift Dress in leafy blue

Hello, I hope you are all enjoying a lovely weekend. Today I have a simple summer dress to share with you, and it's my first make from the Burdastyle Vintage Modern book, which, shamefully, I have had since Christmas 2012. Don't get me wrong, I really do like the book, as well as the patterns that came with it, it's just I've never quite had the patience with tracing from overlapping lines and adding seam allowances with the patterns in the Burda Style magazine, and the same goes with the book. 

But finally, after looking through my stash for a 1960s simple shift dress with only diagonal darts with no luck, I suddenly remembered the Jamie dress, with its neat lines and square ish neckline. And as it's a straightforward construction, I decided to roll my sleeves up, and get on with it. Guess what? It wasn't all that bad, and it was worth the effort. 

Some of you might remember my Experiment Dress a while ago, and how the whole 60s look and I didn't see eye to eye (though I will have you known that I wore that dress on a recent trip to Dubai, and it worked quite well), so I took extra care this time to make the loose fitting style work for me this time, without having to add a thousand darts to define the waist and completely change the look.  

I first graded the size down to a 30, for a less baggy fit overall, and chopped the length by 3cm, as I think shift dresses look more fun, and less grandma like on me when they sit well above the knee. Then after about 20 minutes of tracing and adding seam allowances, I was ready to go. 

I used a lovely summery viscose (how I love the material) in a leafy blue print for its drape qualities. And overall I think it worked well. Unlike my last attempt with the 60s look, I am definitely getting the vibe from this little number. Although the fit is a loose one, after I took in 0.5cm on each side seam, I don't feel like I'm wearing a big potato sack, so that's something! 


Speaking of the fabric, I did have a tale to tell. I bought 2 metres at a market in Reading off a roll for a cheerful £1.50 per metre, but the condition for the purchase was that I must buy a "matching" fabric of the same quantity. WHAT?! It was confusing to know what "matching" meant, until I saw just the perfect fabric for it -  a viscose in exactly the lighter shade of blue, the colour of those leaves! So I ended up buying 2 metres of that as well. Whilst I am completely over the moon with getting 2 lovely pieces of viscose, 4 metres in total, for a mere £6, to this date I am still perplexed about why I had to buy both. But I have to ask, has anyone else had the same experience before?!  

But you probably see where I'm going with this... As I have the perfect "matching" (or contrasting) fabric in my stash, I have been fighting hard against the urge to make a belt to go with it. The "let's just embrace the 60s vibe" side of me is currently winning, so I haven't bothered with a belt as yet. But what do you think? Should I make one as an optional accessory? 



This dress also have another great quality - although it has a zipper at the centre back, I'm able to get in and out of it without bothering with the zipper. It may not seem like a significant benefit to you, but as my plan is to use this pattern again with some lovely Indian silk charmeuse that I bought in Dubai (for about £3.50 per metre - are you jealous?), the fewer seams the better. But let me caveat this before you try it at home -- it will all depend on how flexible your arms are! Whilst it might just about work for me, it may be a struggle for someone else so do make sure you measure it all out before taking my words for it that this can work as a pullover dress. 

That's all I have to say about this dress. It's simple, easy to sew and wear. I've got an upcoming work trip to Houston (followed by a 2 night stop in NYC -- the garment district, here I come!!) very soon, and I'm sure this will be in the suitcase with me ;)

As usually, I am always pleased to hear from you, so any views please share! And more importantly, if you have had a similar experience as me above, I NEED to know! 

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

GIVEAWAY by Alex Swift Designs!!

Hello my dears, I hope you are all keeping well wherever you are. Here in the UK, we are having a rainy few days, and sadly there's not yet any real sign of summer. 

So how about a rainy day giveaway? I have got something truly special for you today. One of my dearest friends, Katy, with her just as super talented boyfriend, have recently started a new venture in their spare time (this is in addition to their full-time jobs!). This creative pair in London haven fallen in love with screen printing, and have designed and handmade some beautiful products. They have recently launched their first range, Hector, which features a sophisticated and handsome chocolate Labrador. 

Here's just a few products from this wonderful range: 







Aren't these fabulous? And remember, Hector is the first range by Alex Swift Designs, and with your support, this great independent shop will feel encouraged to design more and more diverse ranges, in addition to adding to the existing one. 



What's more, the designers behind Hector are not only creative, but also very generous! They would like to give away the following to some lucky readers:

  • a tote bag of your choosing; and
  • a greeting card of your choosing. And if we get more than 30 entries, another winner will be chosen for a second greeting card. That's 3 winners altogether!

To enter, all you need to do is leave a comment here indicating which design is your favourite (eg Odd Hector Out, Striped Hector, Flying Hector etc), before midnight BST on Sunday 15th June

Want to boost your chances? By liking the shop on Facebook, and/or admiring the shop on Etsy, your "name in the hat" will be counted twice (or three times if you are super keen and do both!) 

The even better news is, this giveaway is open to everyone ANYWHERE in the WORLD!  

When the giveaway closes, 2 or 3 winners will be chosen at random, and Katy and Alex will be in touch with you to arrange shipping. So don't be shy, my dear readers, enjoy the giveaway!

So how about that for a rainy day cheering up? I for one could certainly do with some sun, as I have a bit of a backlog of projects to share with you - just waiting for some daylight to arrive for decent photos! But for now, do take advantage of this giveaway and have a good week! 
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