Made by Me!

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Self drafting difficulties!

So all week I have been trying to work out how to best construct the bodice pattern I want to make up for myself. I am not sure that I chose the most straight forward of styles for my first self drafted pattern but I am giving it a go anyway and thought the process of my mistakes and realisations may be of interest to someone along the way.

I have decided to make a cowl top which is inspired by the top from the film 'The Help' in the post I wrote about the bodice pattern cutting class I went on recently. I am abandoning the shoulder bows but really like the inset cowl section at the front of the top and so I am on a bit of a creative journey to work out how to do it! The course has armed me with some knowledge but really I just have to give it a go and see what happens!

I started by tracing my personal bodice pattern piece on to pattern paper and cut out the triangular section of the bodice
from the bodice front. I took the remaining section of the pattern and created a cowl which I did by putting the tip of the pattern piece on a straight vertical line and moving the pattern piece back to create a triangular section. I sewed it all together roughly and realised it didn't quite work as the point of the triangle really doesn't sit well and it makes the whole front of the bodice to wrinkle. I hadn't sewn the back sections yet and so was just playing the with the bodice front on the dummy to check a rough fit and to see if the cowl was large enough. This actually was a mistake because as soon as I sewed the back of the top on to the front it showed the cowl was far too small as the shoulder lines pushed it closer to my neckline.

I also addressed the wrinkled front by taking out the cowl section and sewing it back on top of the main bodice piece. This seemed to work well so unless I have a more inspired solution to the problem then this is how I will lay the fabric on to the bodice, obviously hemming it first for neatness.

The main issue is that the cowl section is way too small to hang correctly and so it just looks pretty awkward at the moment and flat to the chest. Also the cowl section is made up of two triangles sewn together and when I finally make up the pattern I want a singular piece of fabric so it flows nicely.

I pinned the neck line on the back of the bodice so it is lower and then made the shoulder seams smaller to match the front pattern pieces. I transferred these changes on to the paper pattern. I originally had a shoulder dart but I moved this in to the back dart instead.

Now I need to re-do the toile and add a much
larger triangle of fabric on to the front cowl section.  The fabric I want to use is a little more supple and relaxed than cotton - in fact I have chosen a beautiful silk to sew my final project in but I have to be sure the pattern will work first otherwise it would be a total waste. Not to mention that I have never sewn with silk before so if I can pull this off it's a double first for me for new techniques!

Fingers crossed that it works! My final plan is to make a dress with a waistband and pencil skirt. I just thought it might be a bit easier to do than it has been so far though! But watch this space....

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Simply drafted summer skirt

So I am definitely in the running for having a great summer that I can't quite wear yet as its decided to get windy and rainy again here in London town. It's fine though as it gives me more time to make more handmade garments to wear during the summer. It's part of the aim of this blog to make and wear more handmade garments after all!

Okay so its the type of skirt that most beginners tend to make as the construction is pretty simple but I did in fairness draft the waistband from my skirt block which kind of makes it a self drafted pattern....erhm....

It has a lapped waistband which has an overlap over the zip closure and a couple of buttons to close it inside. This finish is not essential but it's neater than just having the zip close right up to the top of the waistband. The skirt itself is a very basic rectangle of fabric back and front and gathered at the top. When I was on my pattern cuttting course they gave us a simple way of working out how wide to make the rectangles to create average fullness. All you need to do it multiply the waist measurement by 2 or 2 and a half times depending on the thickness of the fabric. If you were making it out of a really thin fabric like chiffon you would times the waist measurement by 3 or 4 times.

I love this skirt because its super simple, only took a few hours to sew and I think its a case of the fabric suiting a simple design rather than something too fussy. It's a lovely linen type material, quite crisp and thick to the touch so it holds it's shape well. I really love high waisted skirts, they are really flattering - especially as they hide my belly! I think I may well get a little bit of wear out of this one!

Friday, 9 May 2014

Awesome birthday gifts!!

Just a small post to show off my awesome birthday gifts! Most excited about the gorgeous wooden sewing box which my boyfriend managed to hide from me for about two weeks around the house and I didn't see it. It's huge I cant believe I missed it! It reminds me of the one my mum has at home. I will take pleasure in organising my sewing bits and bobs into it....nerdy huh?! I also got a couple of lovely patterns and some beautiful fabric to sew some pretty things up with. I am planning to make the Megan dress from Tilly's new book and I am also beginning work on my first bodice pattern. So watch this space...

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Using the stash - Deer and Doe Belladone finished!

I couldn't resist a quick make in between continuing with my Starlet jacket and the Belladone from Deer and Doe was the perfect choice. As I mentioned in my previous post I was only allowing myself to make my new pattern from fabric I already owned as a way of cutting down the stash - and I also managed to find a zip and binding - bonus! Stash depletion had to be done as its getting a wee bit out of hand. And there's more stuffed behind the sofa too....
The fabric is a Japanese cotton from Nani Iro. I bought it around about 2 years ago now and had it in mind for the Gretchen Hersch Craftsy course for 'the bombshell dress'. I stalled on making it for so long because if I am honest I have no where to wear such a dress and after umming and erring over it I put it to the back of the stash and moved on. Its a lovely feeling soft cotton but weird because it consists as two layers which you can see but cant pull apart as it is lightly tacked together. It prevents it from being too thin which is useful so I didn't bother to line it. It was however a slippery customer and distorted really easily so it wasn't always a pleasure to sew with. is the dress.... 
I wasn't sure whether it was the best use of this fabric and hovered for ages before cutting it out but I actually really like the way it turned out. Do you feel like you have such a strong idea of what something will look like when you start a project that it doesn't faze you to cut into the fabric or do you cut and hope! Maybe with some epic fails along the way! I am more of the latter in general but I quickly seem to gain confidence in what it will look like. The thing that worked well with this fabric was the way it was cut out. The floral patterns were all in a group mainly on each side near the selvage edges so I positioned the pieces over the most patterned areas so I got a really floral section of fabric on the main body of the dress.
As for the pattern this is the first time that I have sewn up a Deer and Doe pattern. I have to say it was really straight forward and easy to put together. Even easier because I didn't have to translate it from French to English with my poor French vocab skills. The pattern labelled itself as an intermediate pattern but I really didn't feel there was too much on there that wasn't achievable for a confident beginner. Once you have mastered darts the rest is straightforward enough. The thing I did notice is the slight lack of pattern notations on the pieces - no grainlines on most and few notches. It didn't faze me but I thought it strange not to have them clearly labelled. The other thing was that the pattern asks you to do a facing on the hem, which is a lovely addition and not something I have actually come across before, but it didn't have a sealed in waistband, just open seams on the inside. I cut out another waistband section for the inside of the dress as I think its important to think about how it looks inside as well as out. I think this improved it and added some structure and support to the dress as the fabric is liable to twist a bit. The only change I made was to lengthen it ever so slightly as I cant stand wearing things when I feel they are too short.
Overall I would say give it a go as it was a pleasure to make and I think its pretty on as well. The back has a nice detail and so even though it feels like a simple dress there is so much you could do with that bit to add a bit of whoomph. Maybe different colours, multi-coloured binding, different fabrics, different colour waistband etc.... I also think that it would be really cute with a full skirt which would make it feel a bit more vintage.
I will definitely come back to sew this pattern again. 

Friday, 2 May 2014

'Love at First Stitch' - Another Sewing Purchase!

Another day, another sewing purchase! As I went out for lunch today I had a sudden desire to walk into Waterstones and peruse their crafty section only to see the last copy of 'Love at First Stitch' by Tilly Walnes waiting for me to take it from the shelves. I really like it. It's definitely a meaty book, worth the money, easy to read, jam packed with info and helpful tips and of course lovely patterns. It is aimed at beginners but I thought the patterns in it were too cute to put the book back down so I bought it and have been pouring over it for the last few hours.

I love new sewing books and the fact they open up a realm of opportunities to make new wondrous items of clothing for my wardrobe. It's also great that new independent designers like Tilly are popping up all the time. I realised today that I can't remember the last time I used a vogue, simplicity or any other branded pattern from a big company like that. The majority of them don't feel modern enough to me and generally the photography is dire with awful fabric choices and awkward looking models that don't really sell the clothes well; even great designs get hidden by outdated presentation. I struggled when I first started sewing to find anything I wanted to make and wear and that's why I love these types of books. Collette, Gretchen and now Tilly have all produced lovely colourful books, with beautiful pictures and easy to follow designs in styles which you look at and think I could wear that! That's all you want really! Sewing for yourself should be just as fashion forward as buying something from Topshop or other high street stores so I don't understand how some pattern companies get it so wrong.
These are my favourite patterns from the book....

I think I may have found a few things to help me reduce that stash! Thanks Tilly!