Made by Me!

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Where do you buy your fabric?

It was during my weekly date perusing the aisles of my local fabric shop that I started to think about where I normally purchase my fabrics and why. I have been looking for something lovely to make up my Simplicity trousers in and I came across a lovely nani iro double gauze fabric called colorful pocho in green and after a lot of pondering decided it had to be mine.
Now in an attempt to stop fabric hoarding and only buy things I am truly in love with I decided to go away and think about it a little while longer before committing as it was a whopping £22 per metre, so not something you want to buy and then regret later. It's during this process I decided to start  looking for it online, just to check whether anyone else had sewn something up in it so that I could confirm my belief that it would look wonderful as a pair of summer trousers. That's when I happened across it on sale on Etsy for half the price and from the other side of the world as well. Even with a potential customs charge its cheaper than buying it from down the road which is a bit messed up! Now its not as if I have never bought fabric online before, in fact I have done it a lot via EBay, Etsy and various fabric stores but here is the thing, I don't generally trust buying tactile things like fabric when I haven't seen it already. I have been stung by the promise of soft silks that turn out to be polyester and jerseys that are just awful to touch and a particular one that is a much sludgier, slimy green colour than it showed itself to be in the pictures. I hate having to send things back and am generally embarrassed to do so - don't ask me why when something isn't what it says it is I know I should! Anyway most of these purchases are stuck in my stash somewhere as I can't even bear to throw them out... you never know when they may come in useful! This means when I know I want something and I have touched it and know what its like I can happily buy it online - its not the only reason of course but its so much easier to buy with confidence when you have seen it in the flesh. I love buying cut price Liberty tana lawn from EBay as its a goldmine of great buys and Etsy has proven to be an interesting mix of fabrics I love as well. So long story short I placed my order and have 3 metres of this lovely stuff being shipped to me. It may not reach my greedy hands until later this month but at least it didn't break the bank.

But then the guilt sets in. I should have bought it at my local shop - and I do try and support local business as much as possible as its not just the fabrics you are buying but their expertise and guidance as well - but I just couldn't afford £66 when I could buy it for £33. Its simple maths. I felt like the kind of person that looks in Foyles to check out a book and then buys it on Amazon - and I don't like to do it. Seeing as a shop near my home has closed in the last year and you never know how well the smaller haberdasheries and fabric stores are doing we should all try and be a bit better shouldn't we. But sometimes its the state of my bank balance that makes the decision for me. I would still rather have the satisfaction of walking away with my purchase than waiting for ages for something to come through the post but I know I am not the only one who wants a bargain!

There are other reasons for buying on the internet of course. The variety is immense, you feel you have everything on your doorstep. Sometimes its just easier. I work all over London and I am just lucky to have somewhere near me at the moment to buy fabric but generally it requires a trip into the centre to my nearest shop and its just too much after a long day. So mostly I have to admit to searching the web on a lunch hour and with a quick click it can all be mine.

So where do you shop for your fabrics and why?

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Tilly's Megan Dress finished!

I have recently finished my Megan dress from Tilly and The Buttons sewing book 'Love at First Stich'. I chose a Japanese poplin cotton from Robert Kaufman which has little leaves all over it in orange and the odd clump of red on a white background. I thought it went nicely with my hair!

It was a pleasure to make, the fabric was easy to work with and the dress, being meant for beginners, was super simple and once I had cut out the pieces and took a brief look at the instructions I did it all without needing to worry too much about studying how it was put together which was refreshing. It was so nice to make something simple, the pattern itself just fit together well too which is sometimes the frustrating thing about sewing up some patterns. I think it looks pretty good on as well which is a bonus! The only alteration I made was to pull in the back a little and shave some of the seam off as it would have been huge otherwise! I may have made it a little tight now but I love the slightly closer fit with this dress and it shows off the figure nicely. And as I have finally started working out after months and months of laziness I feel it will probably be better in a few months time ;-) The thing about taking photos of yourself regularly in something newly made and posting it for the world to see is you realise how awful you can look and you super analyse yourself so I kind of felt that I needed to do something about it. It also makes you analyse what you wear and what you are choosing to make - basically I have started to look more closely at what actually suits me and my body shape.

I am so happy to have finally sewn something up as it feels like ages! I have been having what can only be described as a lull in my sewing these last few weeks. Sometimes I think it takes so much of my spare time, albeit in a very pleasurable way, that I sometimes forget to do other things with my life as passionately! The sun has shone and it's been so lovely in London recently that I have decided to take myself out of the house to get some sun on my face. It's such a shame that sewing is an indoors and pretty solitary past time and in my house my sewing machine is squirrelled away in the corner of my bedroom where there is little light to see clearly, especially as the tree in front of the window blocks everything out in the summer months with its fresh growth of leaves.

I have therefore taken time during my newly found weekends to among other things visit friends, enjoy a beer or two in the sunshine and go to gigs, I have seen the Arctic Monkeys, Lorde, Arcade Fire and the Pixies (who were ace!!) in the last few weeks. I have now come back to this blog after irresponsibly not writing much for a while to realise I really miss my sewing! Sometimes you need a break to feel re-invigorated! Do you agree?

The one thing I have become aware of in the last few weeks is that I have been taking stock of what I wear on a day to day basis more than I ever have and trying to work out what I need more of and what I should avoid! This analyse has been in part due to seeing lots of blogs talking about me-made-may (which I want to involve myself in next year) and also from the simple fact that by starting this blog I have been making more handmade clothes and therefore buying less off the shelf, which has forced me to think about what I really want from my wardrobe. I tend to make things with a lot of patterns - and this Megan dress is no exception - but I realised that the one thing I felt lacked in my wardrobe were plain tops, trousers and jackets that can be thrown on over anything. So from now on I will make it my mission to create more of these in amongst the other more patterned items. I do get to the point sometimes where I have lots to wear but nothing really to wear it with! Not the original aim of making more handmade really!!!

The items I really enjoyed wearing in the last year have been dresses which I never really have before. The shop bought things I have purchased recently and worn a lot of have also been dresses and to be honest so simple and plain that I wouldn't have thought to make something similar. But it's been interesting that the items I want to wear aren't always the pieces with the most vibrant pattern, which is what I tend I sew up most regularly. So I think I need to address my approach to fabric buying and think more about making separates that are easy to pair together, plain shirts, basic tops in block colours, t-shirts and vests etc...there is of course a place for pattern still but making things that look great but that when you come to wear them they don't quite work because nothing fits with them severely limits the amount of times you wear them.

Now I have finished sewing up Tilly's Megan dress I am looking forward to the next item I am going to make up - I have the Anna dress from Hand London and some fabric ready to go as well as some denim to make up my self drafted skirt again, which I have re-drafted a little since my post. After this I want to try and make some trousers and have picked a pattern to try, a pair of trousers from Simplicity and Cynthia Rowley.

I don't usually go near these patterns now but I really like the outfit here. The top is too high cut for me - I may been exercising more recently but I don't have defined abs yet!!!! I thought the whole thing was pretty cute. What I would like to do is make a nice plain top to go with it and going forward try and start thinking about outfits rather than making separates and hoping something goes well with it!

Monday, 2 June 2014

My first self made skirt!

I am sorry it has taken so long to post again but I was determined that my next post should be about something I self here it goes my first self drafted skirt - a reasonable wearable toile I think.
It was whilst trying to work out how to make up a pattern for a cowl top on my last post that I thought to myself I should take a step back and try drafting something a wee but more achievable for my first self drafted pattern. I went back and had a look at my skirt pattern-cutting lesson notes and came to the conclusion that it would be a lot easier to deal with a skirt than a bodice at this point.
What I had realised in the first instance is that I need some inspiration to work from so in an effort to be an efficient and organised person I started my first scrapbook, taking pictures from magazines of things I would like to buy and then working out how to deconstruct them by doing some awful pencil doodles next to them.... I used to be so good at art too!

I wonder whether this is how you work out how you are going to make things - or maybe you are creative enough to make up your own designs? At the moment I feel it helps to have a little bit of a guide to go from.

I finally chose the skirt in the picture below because I could clearly see the lines and how it had been put together. I think my skirt isn't too far off the original although when I make it again - and I would like to do it in denim then I will make the flare a little more exaggerated.

By drawing it and picking it apart I felt I had a reasonable idea about how to make it. The one thing I didn't like about it was that it rested on her hips and I have to say I stopped wearing things like this a long time ago as I don't think it flatters me. So my only alteration was to move it up to be a waist height skirt and added a couple of darts front and back.

I picked some old royal blue gabardine I bought for about £5 when I first started sewing and then made up my first draft muslin - it is perfect for this project as it is stiff enough to provide a skirt with some shape just like the denim in the picture - although as I found out a real pain to sew with - tough as old boots. I was faithful to the original skirt in as far as it contained all the correct elements and it looked pretty much the same although as I had moved the waist of the skirt I really hadn't got the proportions correct at all for the top two tiers. I couldn't leave it like this as it would have been an epic fail and a frumpy one at that!!

In the end I decided to take about 5-6 inches off of the waistline and then I re-drafted the top tiers to fit the new dimension with the help of my master skirt block. I cut it all out again in the gabardine and viola! I left the hem raw so I can the frayed effect in the image above as well.

I think the gabardine is a gorgeous colour and in the hope that it would work out okay I serged all the inside edges and took time to sew it together - well most of it anyway as the waistband could be better. I do think it looks quite lovely! I am proper proud of myself!! Sorry that's rather a lot of self admiration there but I am a little bit buoyed up about starting to self draft things now - I know it will take practise but I am very happy to have made something on my own! Now I would like to get a nice denim and make it up once more.

The funny thing is that as I wasn't following a proper pattern it seemed to come together so much more quickly than normal and I really enjoyed the process all the way from working out the construction to finishing the final stitch. I have now labelled all the pictures in my book and kept the pattern pieces in an envelope with a corresponding number at the back of my scrapbook. My own pattern book... One day I hope to have a whole load of reusable patterns at my disposal!!