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Sunday, 29 September 2013

Refashion Runway Season Two - Emerald Green Sewalong

From eighties dress to fifties skirt.

I bought this dress from Ebay for 99 pence.  Yes, amazingly I was the only bidder!  The belt buckle and buttons were all a very cheap plastic 'gold', there were shoulder pads and unhappy pockets that bunched up around the bust.  But, like the end of any relationship, I am focussing on the bad points.  The things I did like were the skirt pleats...

...and the colour.  Also, the fabric was a really bad 100 percent polyester but I grew to love it.  Sadly, this wasn't enough to rekindle the romance that was the eighties and, like Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics, separation was inevitable.

I didn't even try the dress on as I knew it would just be a bit blah as the bodice was a size too big for me.  I did initially have plans to put pleats in the top and re-attach it to the altered skirt, but in the end I liked the skirt so much I quit when I was winning.  So this was an easy one.

As the bodice was too big so too was the waist.  That was a perfect excuse to just make two more pleats in the skirt fabric.  I was careful to cut the dress away through the bodice rather than the skirt so that all the original pleats I loved so much remained intact.

I then needed a new waistband.  So I used the belt.  I unpicked the plastic buckle and just sewed the belt onto the skirt going over the original edge stitches.  Obviously the belt was longer than the waist measurement, but I just made a buttonhole at the end of the belt (which was already nicely shaped) and then sewed a button on the side of the new waistband at the point where the buttonhole ended up when it was wrapped around my waist.

I changed all the horrible gold buttons with green ones from my stash and the skirt was finished! 

Wearing a net petticoat really makes a difference to the look of the skirt.  I can't take credit for this petticoat - my sister made it.

Blue and Green should always be seen!
The pleats make the skirt - and I only had to sew two of them!

The only problem I had was that the white balance on my camera was not happy photographing the green.  I had to spend many a happy(!) hour figuring out how to make my green skirt look green again in photoshop.  It did leave me with a very pretty Warholesque montage of skirts.  You will just have to trust me that the colour my camera thought the skirt was (on the left) was not right and the skirt is actually more like the colour I think it is (on the right).  The only other option is that I will have to cut up the bodice and send you a fabric swatch!

Vote for your favourite in the competition here

Monday, 23 September 2013

Refashion Runway Season Two - Plaid Sewalong

I am kicking off my refashion runway sewalong with a long skirt I bought ages ago in a charity shop for 50 pence.

It is such a pretty skirt but it sadly does not fit me.  Ahem.... let me introduce you to... the glamorous portion of this post...

Not even close!
Thumbs are up but I'm crying inside!!!!

The obvious refashion for a too small ankle length skirt is a mini dress.  When I placed the skirt on Merle it was very tempting just to cut armholes in it as shown above but I didn't, because (a) I had already drafted an alternative bodice and (b) I didn't think I could carry off a funnel neckline.

I placed the bodice pieces on the top of the skirt like so, cut around the pieces, excluding the waist, and sewed armhole darts.

Once I had cut out the bodice I was left with quite a bit of excess fabric at the waist.  I used a self-drafted a-line skirt block to taper the waist out to the full width of the original hem.

Finally, I did the same with the original lining of the skirt.  I made facings and bias binding out of fabric leftover from a skirt I had previously made in a cheery polka dot.  You can get glimpses of the binding when worn but really it is just there for me!

It is such a cheery fabric I couldn't help but take a close up shot.  I will probably normally wear this with a long sleeve top underneath as it is perfect for the cold weather to come here in Wales.

This is a photo where I very much give the impression that I can match up plaids at the seam lines.  Please note there are no photos for the other side... feel free to draw your own conclusions as to why!

Right, I'm off to play catch-up with an emerald dress! 

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Fall For Cotton

I have finished my waistcoat for the Fall For Cotton challenge. 

Here is a reminder of the pattern together with the fabric.

I was lucky to be gifted this fabric (diolch Mrs Tomos!) which was originally a curtain.  There was enough fabric to make a waistcoat but some thought had to go into the fabric placement to avoid (technical sewing term coming up...) red rose boob syndrome!
Expensive pattern weights there... from Lidls!
I knew I wanted to avoid breaking up too many of the large roses with the dart placements so a little bit of fussy cutting was used.

Just about managed to avoid a rose boob!
Back view - I love the neck darts.
I had originally planned to use some buttons from a bag I purchased from a charity shop.  I selected five lovely bright red ones but somehow, when I placed them onto the final waistcoat, they didn't look quite right.  

Luckily, I then remembered I had been given these little lovelies as a gift...

So cute!

 I finished the waistcoat just in time for date night.

I teamed it with wedge sandals I managed to pick up in the charity shop for £3.50!  The pink jacket I think I bought for a wedding about twenty years ago, the skirt has been loaned to me by my sister and the handbag is one I knitted a while back.

Myself and Mr HoffiCoffi went to see the comedian Stewart Lee and very funny he was to.  Although this picture was taken before we got there and I am laughing only because Mr HoffiCoffi said he was getting the bin in the picture.  Very sad.  Even sadder is that no alcohol was consumed that evening to account for my laughing at a bin!  I guess you had to be there.....

Monday, 16 September 2013

Refashion Runway Season Two

I am hoping to sew along with the ladies taking part in the Refashion Runway Season Two.   Well.... the family barely need feeding and as long as I can push open the front door enough to get in then the housework is sufficiently covered!

I went shopping today to gather some supplies as the categories are now out.  It starts on the weekend and the categories are:  

Week One: Plaid
Week Two: Pantone 2013 Color Emerald Green
Week Three: Peplum
Week Four: Leather
Week Five: Halloween
Week Six: Winter White

The items above are hopefully destined to become something new, and in total they cost me about ten pounds, so if I get any disasters it won't break the bank and we can just pretend I never said anything about sewing along....!

Also - in for a penny, in for a pound - I have signed up for Fall For Cotton.  I was given the lovely cotton fabric pictured above last week and it seemed Kismet that I should receive it after reading about the Fall For Cotton challenge.  There is not much yardage in the fabric so I am hoping to make the waistcoat in the picture and I have rummaged around the bag of buttons and there are five matching(ish) buttons that co-ordinate with the fabric.  I'm just wondering when I will find the time.....

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Machine Quilted Cushion

Out of all the sewing techniques I have tried over the years, quilting has to be right up there for enjoyment factor for me.  It's one of those things that I enjoyed right from the off, regardless of my ability, and it is something that I long to be an expert at.  However, it is also very time consuming and whilst I long to achieve the perfect hand quilted stitch I am also keen to continue quilting on my good old basic machine.

My main problem with quilting has always been marking the design onto the fabric.  Either the marks are still visible after I have washed the end product or the lines are too faint before I have finished the design.  I have tried graphite pencils, watercolour pencils, fade-away marker pens, washable handwriting pens and chalk and have not yet found anything I am happy with.  Then, I read in a magazine a suggestion of drawing the design onto freezer paper and, after ironing the paper onto the fabric, quilting through all the layers, tearing away the paper afterwards.  Good excuse to try it on a cushion thought I....

So close!  Yes, the design was very easy to see and there was no danger of any marks being left behind as all the pencil marks were on the paper and not the fabric.  However, despite a short straight stitch setting on the machine (try saying that with your teeth out!), tearing away the paper did lead to some of the stitches pulling slightly.  You should be able to see what I mean on the picture above.  (Whoops, I also seem to have gone a bit wobbly with some of the out-lining there.  Pink on white is so unforgiving!!!)

I adore the results of quilting, every wobbly time.  It is hard to photograph the undulating loveliness it creates but the photograph above is my best attempt.  I must point out the design is pure Barbara Chainey from her book 'The Essential Quilter'. 

I am going through a bit of a Welsh wholecloth quilt obsession at the moment and have been researching it quite heavily.  Fully expect to see more quilting cropping up on this blog in the future as I try to recreate the designs used by those who went before me.  Only wobblier!

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Eighties Nightgown

My poor husband.  I'm afraid my slight obsession with sewing vintage garments has now led into the bedroom.  

I bought Butterick 5854 in a charity shop at the same time as a woman fell over in the window display.  I would like to point out that I was the other side of the shop at the time and was not rushing to grasp any vintage patterns in said display so I am in no way culpable.  (The lady was ok - although she did get a telling off from the cashier which I thought was rather harsh!)

Anyway, back to the pattern.  Why did I pick this...?

Because it was 'Very Easy'.  In fact - so confident are they in their classification that they shout it out in several languages.  'Est-il facile?' 'OUI!  C'EST FACILE!'  And indeed it was.  If you have no fear of lace inset trims that is....

Construction was fairly uneventful until it came to the trim.  The instructions told me to simply sew the lace straight onto the garment.  No problem.

But then there was the small matter of 'trimming the fabric 6mm from stitchings, being careful not to cut lace trim.'  OUI!  C'EST FACILE!

As someone who has a track record of snipping right into bodices I was not looking forward to this part.  Please feel free to copy my patented 'tricky sewing' technique as detailed below... however,  I do not recommend it!

Eyes shut.  Headphones on.   Hope for the best.

Turned out ok.

 If I have clipped into the lace - I haven't found it yet!

I do love the effect it creates.  I overlocked the raw edges as the material I used was an old sheet from another charity shop and it was a frayer.

 Look, you can see my eye through it!

All in all it was a lovely pattern to use.  The neck trim was a bit of a fiddle and I'm not greatly happy with the mitred corners but I guess it was easy to make... if you keep your eyes open that is!