Saturday, 7 March 2015

The Trouser Skirt Trouser Thing

My personal sewing mojo is still AWOL, I can't use that excuse not to hand in a college project though so here is another college project that I forced myself to sew.

For this project I had to choose an Iconic Garment -  research it a bit and then make a 'wearable piece of art' based on it. I chose the very vague 'Wide Legged Trousers' possibly because I had just watched 'The African Queen' and I had Katherine Hepburn on my mind.

Now you will be pleased to hear that I did learn from my coat making debacle and made life easy for myself, may I present the Two Waisted Trousers/Double Ended Trousers/Trouser Skirt Trouser Thing..

This is my final illustration and tech drawing for the design, please excuse the wonky stitching lines on the tech drawing, I was running out of time on deadline day and something had to give (I've also just realised I forgot to take out a seam line on the back waistband DOH!)

My initial idea for these was to just turn a pair of trousers upside down, undo the inseams and sew them into a crotch curve. I drafted a mannequin sized pants block (see, nice easy drafting!) but when it came to cutting there wasn't enough fabric in the pant cuffs to incorporate the crotch curve and make it around the waist. I added a couple of side panels and then pleated the excess volume that these created at the waist. I think that the extra fabric also added to the 'wearable artiness' of the garment.

My mannequin sized classmate kindly modeled the finished item for me. I have decapitated her in Photoshop to preserve her privacy.

Classmates Head is not the only thing to have been 'shopped you will notice. The day we went out to take pics was gloriously sunny in the morning then as soon as we got to location it started snowing and hail stoning (seriously fucking snow, in March!)  I had planned a more elaborate photo shoot but we decided to get it over and done with and quickly snapped some pics in about 5-10 minutes. As I could barely see through the viewfinder I stuck with the same camera settings for every photo and as a result a lot of them came out underexposed.

For our next project we have to make an outfit's worth of garments and we can set the brief ourselves, no idea what I want to look at yet but I feel it should be eye-searingly unicorn-barfingly bright.

What I learnt during this project - Do not be lazy and harvest a fly assembly from a pair of trousers to insert into another pair of trousers. By the time you have finished arsing around trying to make it look tidy (and failing) you could have cut and sewn a nice new not fraying fly.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

The Stress Coat

Poor neglected blog, one day I will have time to sew selfishly and gallivant around the countryside taking pictures of my sewing.

Not today though, today I show you shitty pictures of sewing which is unwearable and made me want to cry. Yup another college project.

Because I am an insufferable idiot I decided to push the boat out with my drafting, I couldn't just be sensible and make a little dress like everyone else instead I decide to make a quilted, pleated coat of doom.

This is a picture of me messing around with some stand work, deciding where I want my pleated panelling and whatnot

After dicking around and drawing on my fabric a lot I decided I wanted to quilt the skirt of the dress. In my wisdom I decided that this meant the bodice lining should be quilted (so the wearer would be 'evenly warm'  - I can think of no other way to describe it, it made sense to me at the time)

I was actually pretty good and started my drafting early on this project (with delusions of digitising it!), then I started to worry and toiled half a bodice and realised I would never be able to get a finish i was happy with as drafted so I want back to the drawing board, changed the block I was working with and tweaked a few design lines to make the sewing more manageable (HA!) I finished the re-draft on the Sunday (my hand in date being the Wednesday)

Drafting WTFuckery, I made my life slightly easier by photocopying my blocks instead of tracing them

So Monday morning finally saw me sewing. I decided to do the 'easy' bits first so I started with quilting the lining, the slippery cheap acetate lining. Oh yeah without a walking foot. I 'measured' the distance between quilting lines with a bit of tape (I say a bit, I think I got through most of a roll by the time I was done)

quilting acetate = sewing hell

 So about three hours later I'm finished with this shit and I move onto my pleated sections. Working on cheap ass calico feels like a dream, it holds a crease and doesn't shift around under the machine.

 The rest of the day becomes a bit of a blur after this. I take a time out to go and pick Beau up from work, he gives me a very funny look in the car as I look like a wreck wearing sweat pants and I am covered in various colours of thread as well as having the expression of someone teetering on the edge of insanity. We go home and I waste more sewing time by having to stop and eat. After this I carry on assembling until I get to putting the back bodice together. The back of this monstrosity is like a fucking jigsaw. I spend I don't know how long re arranging all the pieces trying to remember how they all fit together, for this project we weren't required to have a master pattern and I didn't think to take a picture of the back before cutting out all my pattern pieces. By this point I could cry, happily I remember Finally how everything fits and get it sewn together before I forget again. At this point in the day I am told in no uncertain terms to stop sewing.

I know myself pretty well and on the Tuesday I was very happy that I had had the foresight to book the day off work. I started the day by marking the quilting lines on my skirt piece. No mean feat as the skirt has no side seams.  It takes me about 4 attempts to get this right and takes an age. I am frustrated and tired.

At this point I think 'fuck it' and give up on my plan of quilting the lining along with the outer fabric as I have no time to baste. I quilt the outer and then join the lining at the hem (hack job!!) The bodice is sewn to the skirt and the seam is bound and I bind the bottom of the bodice lining so no raw edges are showing.

I have no idea what this is a photo of!

I originally planned to put in hook and eye tape to the bodice centre front as a fastening. I decide I can live without this and call it a day on the sewing.

Sadly this was not the end of my frustrations with this project. Complicated patterns mean complicated tech drawings and I had not practised on Illustrator over the summer (I was also doing this project on my old laptop, I have a new computer now and Illustrator seems much easier to use on it)

Shitty tech drawing (I told you the back was complicated!)

Finally the one picture I took of the finished object ( I couldn't bear to look at it anymore, or iron it for that matter)

Anyway - note to self - do not be a dick and try and show off.

Monday, 22 September 2014

Tights to Socks Re-fashion

So I'm about to prove the stereotype of Yorkshire Folk being tight correct...

I'm so cheap I couldn't face throwing away a pair of holey tights and made them into socks. In my defence these were really nice soft cosy tights from M&S with merino in them, I'm not making myself look any less of a cheapskate am I? ohh well I hope you enjoy my little tutorial (also I'm totally counting this as a FESA tender tootsies project)

Sunday, 31 August 2014

One Fish Two Fish..

... and all of them blue fish.

I have finally got some finished garment photos YAY! so here is my fish dress. I hope you will agree that this fabric was worth breaking my self imposed fabric buying ban for.

I'm such a sucker for a ridiculous print, the looks I got when I brought this home and triumphantly exclaimed that it was going to be a dress were dubious to say the least. This fabric is lovely though, I always forget how nice it is to sew with cotton.

 The pattern is Seamster Patterns Dandelion Dress this is the second time I've made this pattern, the first will remain unblogged because it looks a bit like a nurses uniform. I needed to make a fair few adjustments to this pattern to make it fit me, but I have to do that to pretty much every pattern anyway. My brain could not comprehend how to do an FBA on this bodice so I decided to make the size corresponding with my full bust (I usually go by the upper bust measurement) and then alter from there.

List of adjustments -

Deepen bust dart
Curve bust dart
Hike up bust dart by removing fabric on the top sleeve seam
Re-orientate top sleeve seam to compensate for forward sloping shoulders
Pinch out excess fabric under the bust
Shorten upper back and upper back sleeve
Sway back adjustment
Add 4cm in length

Now I know that sounds like a lot, but I honestly have to make a tonne of changes to every pattern I make, add to that that this is a raglan sleeve and I am very fussy about getting raglans to fit properly. I found the pattern to be really well drafted, everything matched up superbly even after I had hacked up the pattern with fitting adjustments. I'm looking forward to making a few more of these in some heavier fabrics for winter. I will probably tweak the fit a little more around the waist and add a zipper (this version is loose enough not to need one)

 I have no pics of the inside but all the seams are overlocked together and the neckline and sleeves are finished with bias tape - I actually had a packet of vintage bias tape in the correct shade of blue - I'm never normally that lucky!

I have a teensy scrap of this fabric left which has been squirrelled away into the fabric hoard for next years summer sewing.

Thanks for reading :)


P.S. Is anyone on Instagram? I finally got on there and have been basking in the glory of millions of fluffy cat pictures. I'm rachel.loulou on there and I would love to find some sewing pals to follow.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Unselfish Sewing: Kids Edition

A post which contains some actual sewn items - who woulda thunk it! My mother cornered me for my annual unselfish sewing stint a couple of weeks ago, so last weekend was spent making summery PJ's for my little sister. I made a pattern based on a couple of pairs of her existing jamas and sized up a bit. I made a knit pair and a woven pair and they were super easy to make. I may have a go at digitising and grading this pattern as it is very simple shapes.

The fabric was from the local Boyes, a cheap stable knit of dubious quality and a cotton batik which was really lovely to sew with ( I purchased a couple of lengths of batik in over patterns for myself, one of which was made up into a dress before I started on the PJ's)

Beware crappy photos ahead - Taken on my phone on the day we got all the after-storms from Hurricane Bertha, not modelled because I'm not putting pics of my baby sister on the Internet.

The Knit Version


The Woven Version

massively chuffed with my top stitching here.

Ive had the weekend off work and had some big plans for sewing up some Autumn/Winter stuff but I've been really bummed out about Robin Williams' death. All I've managed to do is a bit of knitting and watching loads of crap TV interspersed with trying to hunt down a copy of The Birdcage on DVD for under £20.

Monday, 7 July 2014

Mood Boards

Just a quick post while I procrastinate (today is the day I promised myself I would reorganise my fabric, yarn & pattern stash) There are many things I don't really like about doing a Fashion degree (I don't get to sew enough!) but one of the things that I have come to enjoy is creating mood boards so I thought I would share a couple from the past year with you guys.

Hope you like!


Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Minerva Haul

So ages ago now (seriously it was April!) I went a bit mental and ordered a crap tonne of fabric from Minerva via their eBay site. Seeing as Minerva sponsor a lot of sewing blogs these days, I though it might be helpful to review them as a regular Joe (please be noting I have nothing to say about pattern testing, apart from how bored I am over the hoo-haa around it)

Anyway this is what I purchased and here are my thoughts -

Ivory Soft Viscose Jersey £2.99pm ( available here in black, looks like it's no longer available in ivory) It was a bitch to get a decent photo of this fabric. It is incredibly drapey and very slightly sheer with a bit of surface texture. The description was accurate as it is very soft, as expected in jerseys of this nature it has no stretch or recovery. I bought quite a lot of this as I tend to destroy white t-shirts in the wash (and no-one wants to wear and off-whitish tee!). I have a Summer Concert Tee cut out in this fabric waiting to be sewn.

Textured Brown Knitted £6.99pm (here) No photograph I took did this fabric justice, so I picked one where you could at least sort of see the stitch design. Minerva list this as 75% acrylic, with 8% wool and 17% nylon. As you can see it is a reasonably loose knit and is quite 'fuzzy' to the touch. I decided to sling this in the washer and dryer (I do not have the time or inclination for hand wash only clothing!) it lost quite a bit width wise so I would say the fibre content was pretty accurate. I have this stored away for cooler weather when it will probably become a cardigan.

 Multicoloured Spandex £6.99pm (here & here) This was purchased because I  have a bit of a girl crush on Melissa from Fehr Trade and I hoped by blatantly copying her i might somehow through the power of clothes, develop some of her running ability (I've taken up running again, so far it has been painful!) This fabric is as expected, thin, smooth, good stretch and recovery and eye searingly bright to boot. I have a pair of Duathlon Shorts cut out and waiting to be sewn in the colourway on the right. I am happy with this purchase and I think I can probably squeeze quite a few garments out of these in combination with some plain Lycra I picked up from my local fabric shop.

I'm Going to the Zoo Jersey £3.99pm (here) I am a sucker for a novelty print - add jersey into the mix and I am pretty much powerless, its like my kryptonite (there are a couple of other novelty prints to come) This is a very saturated print and quite weighty for a jersey but it has a very synthetic stiff feeling. It reminds me of being a little kid and how clothes felt in the eighties. It has a bit of stretch but then you get some white show through -

You can sort of see what I mean here. Incidentally it's really hard to hold a DSLR in one hand and take a photo of your other hand whist using manual settings. I still like this fabric but had I have realised what the 'hand' would be like I probably would have skipped it. I have no plans for this fabric at the moment.

Pocahontas Jersey £3.99pm - this appears to be sold out. This is similar in hand to the 'Zoo' fabric. I was however expecting this from this particular fabric. Pocahontas was released in 1995 and I imagine that this fabric would have been produced around the time of it's cinematic release and has been sitting on a shelf somewhere since then. As a kid I loved Pocahontas (I am a Disney nut after all, in fact I just purchased some 'Brother Bear' cotton from a Bricks and Mortar fabric shop) I remember getting a Pocahontas T-shirt from Disney World which I would love to still have (stupid teenage self throwing away old clothes!) I am happy I purchased this. This is in my jersey stash until I book another Florida holiday, at which point it will be either a skater skirt or a vesty top.

This photo has been pilfered from Minerva Crafts eBay listing- link below)

Dinosaur Print Jersey £6.99pm (here) When I first saw this fabric I think I actually squealed out loud. My brain was fogged by visions of a dinosaur print Lady Skater Dress and the buy it now button was pounded without any further thought. Unfortunately this fabric has the same problem as the others above, which for £6.99 I really wasn't expecting. Also have a look at steggy up in the top left hand corner - shall we take guesses on how big he is?

Steggy (and the rest of his extinct mates) is enormous, in case you can't see in the pic - he is 36cm long! who ever took the pic of this fabric for Minerva must have been stood on a chair to fit so many of them in. No where in the description does it give an idea of scale, if its not going to be noted in the description, it would have been really useful to have a tape measure or coin or something in the picture so you can guesstimate the size of the design. This is another I would skip if I had a time machine, it's sat in the jersey stash until I figure out something to do with it.

Another Pic lifted from Minerva's eBay listing - link below

 Purple/Gold Stars Jersey £4.99pm (here) This is the fabric which started it all, the one that prompted my purchase. Why? you say -

OH MY GLOB! it totally reminded me of Lumpy Space Princess that's why! This is also the fabric where everything went a bit well, lumpy. The fabric it's self is a pretty average quality cotton blend jersey without a great deal of stretch. So not great but not bad for the money. The pic above as noted is from Minerva's eBay listing, the pic below is one of mine.

Can you spot the problem? The fabric has obviously not heard about the importance of sun protection and is faded along one of the selvages. I noticed this immediately upon unfolding the fabric so I don't know how it got past whomever was cutting and packing it (and taking the listing photo for that matter) I emailed Minerva to let them know about it. They responded saying I could return the fabric if I wanted and they would look into the problem. I didn't want to return the fabric as I want my LSP Lady Skater (and I certainly didn't want to pay for return postage) I left it at that as I could not be bothered with to and fro-ing via email. I have been back and looked at the listing and they have not amended it to tell customer that one end is faded, I suppose it is possible that only part of the bolt was damaged and they have chopped that bit off and binned it.

Phew, that is a lot of fabric! are you still with me? whilst the fabric I received was a bit of a mixed bag in terms of quality (and my expectations) the experience of shopping with them through eBay was incredibly easy. I paid a bargainous £2.99 for postage and my order was delivered promptly. The email that I sent was responded too very quickly, but I didn't get a follow up to say that they had checked out the fabric in their warehouse. The experience hasn't put me off from ordering from them again, but it would have to be special fabric. I would also be more likely to email them to ask questions about the fabric or fork out 99p for a sample. Some might say I was naive not to do this in the first place, but I must have been very lucky in the past as when ever I've ordered on line I've never had an issue with the fabric not meeting my expectations.

I hope this post has been helpful to any of you looking to expand your fabric stash in the near future.

Bye for now!


PS. I still have a soft spot for Pocahontas, a film with a Pug and a Raccoon as sidekicks -so cute!