Monday, 5 February 2018

Out With the Old. In with the New (Look 6471).

Okay, so maybe it's a wee bit late for the end of November deadline for the Sewcialists' TNT Month  (only 3 months but hey, who's counting?) but I was almost finished at the time and considering my recent sewing output that was a major achievement. November I was up to my eyeballs in work as we were winding down towards year-end and it has not let up since, maybe even got worse, not ideal for sewing or for taking photos. This top has been finished since the start of December but unblogged as I never managed to get any dodgy phone pics until now so thanks to a grumbly Sprogzilla.

So this is my second version of the NL6471. This time with long sleeves and in some sort of crinkly poly fabric that I bought from Fenwick's in Newcastle a few years ago. They weren't obvious at the time but there are a few printing faults in this fabric so I am not best pleased. This is one of those rare occasions when I actually paid full-price for a fabric as it has a lovely vintage feel to the print. It is busy though, a bit like wearing your Nan's curtains. 

Currently, my wardrobe is desperately short of things that feel comfy and look smart-ish for work. This year I am going to try to live up to the "dress for the job you want" mantra. Being a bit of a bag lady most of the time I could do with scrubbing up a bit now that I am supposed to be a responsible adult. Still not really sure that the top lives up to its legend. After seeing photos of me in it, it is probably the least flattering thing that I own. The fabric hangs weirdly off my not inconsiderable bust and it just makes me look HUGE (not mentioning the 10lbs of Christmas-related chub at all). If I didn't love the sleeves and the fact that it goes so well with my necklace I might have consigned this to the charity shop pile but it has a reprieve for now.

Definitely something more drapey for version 3 (that is already cut out in something suitable that I have had in my deep stash for about 15 years!!). I have had this necklace for about a decade and think it was from Monsoon but can't remember exactly. It's only been worn it once since I bought it but it's quite a good match for the fabric and the style.

So to round up this top is a very simple sew although this fabric was a challenge. It was quite shifty when I was cutting out and I hand-basted everything before sewing it on the machine.  The neckline was a bit of a struggle this time around. I ended up ripping it out 3 times and finally lowered the neckline by about 1.5 inches on this version but this was the only additional change that I made (see this post for the others). Looking at the pics I could do with a slight sway-back adjustment but that would be easy with the centre back seam. It isn't rippled in real life.

If you are wondering why all the photos have my head cut off then behold the horror that is me after a 10-hour shift in the office. Half a head but that is all you are getting since I was a make-up free zone and looked like I was going to cry. It was bloody cold today so I layered it up with a black silk cami and a velvet swing jacket from Biba. Swing jackets and big boobs are not best friends I think but this jacket is nice and has a big bow detail on the back collar.

Anyway, to recap I really enjoyed taking part in the TNT Month Challenge and have something on the cards to use up some more stash for the current "Sew Stripes" one. Challenges are great as they make me do stuff. I might not be sewing fast but I have got my mojo back, which is fabulous. I am now even contemplating the Sticher's Guild SWAP 2018 after seeing the rules on a post by The Demented Fairy and have started embellishing my RTW item. Thanks to everyone at the Sewcialists for the MoR reboot!

So are you sewing any challenges or making anything? Or completely side-tracked by life or work? 
Do tell!
Take care until next time.
K xx

Thursday, 4 January 2018

Book Review: Draping: The Complete Course

Hello Lovelies! I was packing up some stuff to bring from home when I came across this book. I thought that I had reviewed it but can't find the post anywhere. I must have been having a senior moment. Doh!

The book in question is "Draping: The Complete Course" by Karolyn Kiisel, published by Laurence King Publishing. The book itself is  a pretty weighty tome, standing in at a very informative 320 pages plus a DVD with 32 video tutorials.  

I don't know how many of you have tried your hand at draping or even want to give it a go but are a bit clueless where to start. If so then this might just be the book for you. The main body of the text is preceded by an introduction outlining all the tools that you need, followed by three sections covering Beginning, Intermediate and Advanced Draping. 

Each of the main sections is broken down into several subsections all covering draping theory along with some projects as examples for each technique. Each section is illustrated with a mixture of full-colour photographs and diagrams.

The Beginning Draping Section covers:
  • Draping the Woven Panel

  • Dresses (Like this copy of Audrey Hepburn's iconic Givenchy dress from Breakfast at Tiffany's)
  • Corsets (my favourite section and a garment that I have draped many times. This one is Lacroix, Darlings).

Intermediate Draping covers:
  • Skirts
  • Blouses 
  • Trousers
  • Knits
All of the above in every variant you can think of including bodice variations, seaming, darts and dart positioning and sleeves all all kinds. It is really, really comprehensive. I love the two blouses below, especially the Gibson Girl style.

Look at these bonkers Harem Pants as worn by the glorious Nijinsky in the Ballet Russes

Advanced Draping Covers:
  • Coats and Jackets
  • The Grand Gown
  • Draping on the Bias
  • Improvisational Draping
My favourite are the grand gowns and there are some great ones as inspiration, everything from Lady Gaga, Glinda from the Wizard of Oz to Vivienne Westwood frocks.

I am going to caveat this review by stating that I have't had a chance to do many of the exercises in the book (except the corset ones) but am hoping to give at least a couple of the others a go this year. 

So to round up, this book has pretty much everything. Even if you will never give draping a go then the information on darts, grain lines, seaming and a wealth of other topics contained within would provide you with a better understanding of how garments are constructed and how patterns are made. There is also good information on fashion history. This along with the colour illustrations makes for a lovely book and a really interesting read. I think that this book would be invaluable if you want to design and make garments to your own designs or where no commercial patterns exist, like historical costuming or cosplay, and would allow you to create or copy just about anything. If draping is something that you fancy giving a bash then I can't recommend this book enough.

Have you ever tried draping or designing your own garments? Do you make your own patterns or think that it is all too much of a faff when they are so readily (and cheaply) available?

Hope that you are having a great week!
K xx

Disclaimer: I bought this book with my own money. All opinions are most definitely mine.

Monday, 1 January 2018

My Top Five for 2017

Well, 2017 is officially over and I have woken up to the perfect blank canvas that is 2018. New Year's Day is historically a little flat here at MOR Towers, usually due to an excess of wine Hogmanay cheer. However, this year has started in a bright-eyed and clear-headed fashion so it's as good a time as any for gathering reflections upon days past. 

I love reading everyones posts so I am joining in with Gillian at Crafting a Rainbow's Top 5 roundups. With no further ado here's my five. 

MISSES - In some respects last year was a bit of a roller-coaster although looking back it feels like a lot of positive stuff happened, even if it didn't always seem like it at the time. I thought that I would start with the misses as they definitely inform the hits.

I was made redundant from the day job at the start of the year - for the fourth time! This did not come as a shock, science is always a precarious industry at the best of times, but it never fails to fill me with a little self-doubt and anxiety of what's to come and how I will support myself and my family. I was lucky to find another job straight away but it is still a bit of a knock, especially having to move again. Also my dodgy bad back has mean that my mobility and ability to sit comfortably to sew have been somewhat limited. This is annoying but I am trying to ignore it. I am also trying to do without any painkillers. They knock me flat and make me feel like I am on the downward-side of a serious bender. When things get unbearable I try a bit of mindfulness and it sometimes works too.

HITS - For shame! I don't think that I have blogged, or even sewn five things this year. My biggest hit was actually getting back into sewing at all, mainly through the Sewcialist's TNT Challenge. My new TNT is New Look 6471. I have made two already, one unblogged awaiting photos, and I have another cut out and started to sew up. A very useful pattern for workwear, an easy sew and comes highly recommended.

HIGHLIGHTS - Strangely enough I would probably put being made redundant as a highlight as well as a miss for last year. I didn't like where I was or what I was doing and my new job is fab-u-lous. I love the team and I love my role. The move was also a surprise bonus. The small town where I am staying has a very relaxed vibe and is a nice change of pace. It has some great charity shops and I never fail to find stuff that I like. The major upside though is that Sprogzilla has moved down with me. This has made me incredibly happy. Working away from your family is hard and I had to do it for too long.

Another massive highlight was getting to meet Veronica from Vronni's Style Meanderings and Vix (and Jon) from Vintage Vixen.  All gorgeous, funny and incredibly stylish. I am so happy to have met them in real life and to have met some amazing people through blogging that I wouldn't have otherwise met. Thank you all for your support last year.

REFLECTIONS - From a pretty grim start, 2017 certainly surprised me. One thing that stands out is that I would like to have a little more "life" in my work-life balance. Not easy when you are a serial offender when it comes to being a bit of a workaholic.

GOALS - I am hoping to take full advantage of being much closer to London and other big cities to indulge in more art/theatre/phototgraphy/fabric shopping with Sprogzilla, keep up with my sewing and getting out and about. Also to sell my house and to find another one to do up. The hunt is on.

Well if you have read this far thank you for sticking with my stream of consciousness rant. Have you made a Top 5? Any goals for 2018 or will you just take life as it comes? Here's hoping that this year brings you magic and joy and that 2018 is filled with fun and adventures.

All the very best!
K xx

Sunday, 19 November 2017

(New) Look of Love - K6471. A TNT in the Making.

Hello lovelies, The last few weeks have seen a bit of a transformation in the way in which I am feeling. Gone is the bad case of the blue meanies that has been hanging round for months only to be replaced with a reawakening urge to create. The fact that Sprogzilla has moved in with me for Sixth Form college is no coincidence, methinks (although you would think that since she is doing photography she would have jumped at the chance of taking some photos for the blog, but no. There was grumbling and a big huff. She did it though). 

The only downside recently has been that my back has been playing up again and I am really struggling with sitting or walking, making sewing very difficult. This top has been cut out and partly sewn for an age but it took me a few attempts to get the hem finally stitched (and even longer to get photos).

One of the things that I have realised is that I desperately need some new clothes that could work in my day job. Normally I would gravitate to the sort of sad 80's goth rock chick/boho-vibe garments that I love but needs must and a posh new(ish) job means that I have to up my office game. 

Whilst browsing in WHSmith to see if I could find a copy of Burda Style (not locally - boo) I chanced upon Sew magazine with New Look K6471 stuck to the front in a US 10-22. Normally I avoid these kind of magazines like the plague - the attached patterns are always in the smaller size ranges and they are just chock full of adverts and very little content that appeals to me. I don't think that this one is any better than the others but I did want the pattern as all four views fitted in with my work wear plans.

I did the usual pattern adjustments, adding 4" to the bodice length and a monster FBA. This top was originally dartless but I added in a bust dart. It had quite a lot of ease so I didn't add in as much of a FBA as normal, meaning that I didn't have to split the dart (I just altered another top pattern and rotated the darts into three as one was just way too big).

I picked up this fabric years ago when I moved back to Newcastle for work. It was on a roll outside one of the Asian fabric shops close to where I was living and was about £4 a metre. No idea of the fabric content maybe a viscose mix, but it has a lovely drape and doesn't crush. Absolutely no thought of pattern matching by me, plus I only had about 2m, but it has worked out really well and it is hard to see the join over the sleeves or at the back seam. I used the long hem from View D for the back and just pinned it up in the mirror to the most flattering length at the front. I used my french curves (another eBay purchase as I couldn't find my old ones) to draw a nice curve from front to back. The pic above has made me think that I might want to try a peplum.

Anyway I do love this top. I love the skimming fit and it feels very comfortable although looking at these photos I can see that it would probably look a bit better with a belt, that there is far too much fabric above my cartoon boobs and that the excess below gives me that "is she or isn't she?" maternity top vibe. The joy of having ridiculous fitting challenges. The length is great though and it hides my bingo-wings. Win-win.

If you follow the Sewcialists' blog then you will know that November is tried "n" true (TNT) sewing month. I didn't have a TNT pattern but think that this top fits the bill. I will definitely make this again, addressing the fitting challenges as I go. In fact I have another one cut out to make View A with the tie neckline but in the spirit of TNT's I have changed this to be a longer pussy-bow style because I like them. I have fabric for number 3 looked out and washed too.

So do you have a favourite sewing or knitting pattern that you keep going back to? Or a favourite style of garment? Are you taking part in the Sewcialists' TNT month? 

Have a lovely week. 
K xx

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Gay Cats Rock!

Hello, Lovelies! I  can't believe it has been a whole month since I last posted. Lots has been happening though. I have been out and about with some friends from work. We went down to London to see the last day of the the Grayson Perry Exhibition, "The  Most Popular Art Exhibition Ever!" at the Serpentine Gallery.

Sketch from one of Grayson Perry's Notebooks
More about that later. Most excitingly I met  the gorgeous Vix and Jon who were trading at the Classic Car Boot Sale in King's Cross. Such style! I was gutted that it was only a flying visit on my part but I had split off from the rest. I still made it to the gallery before they did though.

Before we all met up, the advance guard were persuaded to go for quick detour to Walthamstow Market. Stupidly, I didn't take any photos while I was there but I did make a pilgrimage to the legendary "Man Outside Sainsbury's" (#TMOS). He had some great fabrics but I went for a wander and ended up not going back to the Tube the same way so never bought anything from his stall. I did buy 3 fabrics though. One from one of the shops on the left (didn't catch the name) and two from The Textile Centre.

The leopard chiffon and the camera fabric are from The Textile Centre. I bought 4 m of each. It wasn't even a tenner. Walthamstow may be my new happy place.

This gorgeous African wax fabric was £6 for 6 yards. There were so many there but funnily enough not too many designs that I liked. I was looking for yellow colours to go with some that my friend brought me back from Senegal but didn't find anything suitable..... this time. :)

I did take a few photos at the Serpentine. Speaking to the people at wok, Grayson Perry is a bit of a "Marmite" artist but I really like him and his work.

Detail from "Animal Spirit". I loved the crows.
He has a very perceptive view of life and a great sense of wry humour. as well as such technical skill in a wide range of media. Look at this ace quilted wall hanging.

I really enjoyed the Exhibition and was taken with the abundant cheeky squirrel population in Hyde Park and the flocks of parakeets. Quite surreal. It was a beautiful day.

Marriage Shrine - A beautiful homage to the Grayson' Perry's wife. I thought that this was so touching.
I have been sewing, ACTUAL sewing and have been spending any free time (haha!) between juggling work with trying to catch up with some creative things. I have bought my own body weight in vintage buttons and crafty stuff. Going to post more on that soon as I have BIG plans to update my work wardrobe with new me-made things. I have a pile cut out and ready to go so watch this space.

So have you got any sewing plans? Been out to any good exhibitions?Or have a favourite artist you would like to share? 

Later,  Lovelies. I am getting back to my sewing while I am on a roll!


Sunday, 27 August 2017

Vintage Lingerie: My Sewcialists' Tribute in a Book Review plus How to Scale Up the Patterns and a Me-Made 1930's Girdle

Are you a Sewcialist? No matter what your answer is to that question it's been a whole lot of fun looking at the wonderful garments made by everyone taking part in August's Tribute Month. I really enjoyed the "Inspiration Post" series that ran in July and how those have panned out into some great garments. Lots of new-to-me sewing bloggers with such a wealth of talent.  

I am absolutely snowed under with work, even on this Bank Holiday weekend (which is why I am procrastinating writing a blog post) and just don't know just how much sewing I will be getting done any time soon so I am going to dedicate this book review as my Sewcialists'' Tribute to Elaine over at The Demented Fairy who makes the most bonkers, wonderful Steampunk-inspired costumes and "muggle" clothes. Honestly, I would kill for half this woman's wardrobe. 

It was her recent post on lingerie that got me thinking, so with my best multi-tasking hat on I will be reviewing Jill Salen's wonderful book, "Vintage Lingerie", sharing the resource that enabled me to scale-up the patterns to a wearable size and showing a couple of me-made girdles drafted from the pattern for a 1932 girdle in this book in a tribute to her "smalls"-making skills. 

This book, Jill Salen's "Vintage Lingerie: Historical Patterns and Techniques", and her corset one, are my go-to books if I want to sew some lingerie. 

The contents are in the format of an introduction followed by projects laid out as gorgeous colour photos of the garments which are culled from her own collection or from museums. The book ends with some very useful techniques.

There are 27 different projects in the book which makes this a very good buy even if you only make 2-3 of them as it is a wonderful resource.

Along with the photos are descriptions and a little history of the garments written in an informal, entertaining style. 

Each garment comes with  a double-page layout of the pattern drawn to a scale at either 1 square: 1 inch or 2:1 and require scaling up to the required size before use. 

This is the tricky part and will take a bit of patience, a decent ruler, french curves and a lot of swearing pattern paper. I drafted up the 1932 girdle pattern above to a modern size 8 using the measurements outlined in "Metric Pattern Cutting" by Winifred Aldrich as I was fitting models but you can use your own stats just as easily. 

I used the method of enlarging based on percentages that is found over at the Foundation Revealed website. The link can be found here. Seriously, this is probably the most useful thing that you will ever learn if you need to scale up these kind of patterns. This technique could probably be used to size-up just about anything. I really must have a go with a "proper" sewing pattern.
 Definitely, owe the author, Cathy Hay an eternal debt of gratitude for writing this guide.

The two things that are massively important: grain lines and balance points. Very handily marked on the patterns so remember to transfer them over. It will make a massive difference to the success of your garments. 

Also, boring I know but you will need to make a toile, unless you are very brave and trust your drafting (or very lucky and fit into the original garment measurements).

So how did my attempts turn out? I think pretty well. I loved sewing these girdles. They are made of an outer fabric of silk duping flatlined to corset coutil and lined in my trademark quilting cotton colourful linings.

I still haven't finished these girdles as they need their suspenders on the bottom so could be considered UFO's.  I also have no idea where to buy the little hooks and eyes that are stamped through the front of the girdles so the bottoms still need some sort of closure above where the suspenders are. I could have used eyelets but they might be a bit of a faff to get on and off then.  A longer busk would have been very unfortunate when you sat down.... ooft!

I do love the lines. They look much better on. If they look a bit collapsed in the rear on my dress form this is because they need a rounded bum to fill them out. These girdles would give you an fantastic shape and would look ace lengthened into a corset dress. No idea how comfy they would be wearing them all day but shaped like that who would care?

So have you taken part in Tribute Month? Do you admire someone's sewing skills or (bonkers) pattern choices? Do you like historical sewing?

Hope that life isn't totally pants, lovelies! (groan)

N.B. Just for the sake of clarity I don't own the pics from the book. I bought it with my own money and would gladly recommend anyone with a passion for vintage lingerie to do the same. I also made my girdles a couple of years ago...... but hey who is counting?