Thursday, 16 September 2010

Too Much Sewing, So Little Time & Gertie's Lady Grey Sew-A-Long

OK, so this blog has kind of fallen by the wayside for a while due to work commitments hogging most of my time. I think that most working mums today probably have the same problem. How to juggle work/kids/cleaning/shopping and just enough R&R to make you feel like a human not an automaton. I read quite an interesting piece in this week's Stylist Mag about "Wonder Women" who try to juggle too much and it struck home with some very uncomfortable truths. So, in light of having more stuff to do than there are hours to do it, I have signed up for the "Lady Grey" sew-a-long, on the fabulous "Gertie's New Blog for Better Sewing".

If you love vintage fashion, you should check out Gertie's blog. It really is a goldmine of information, debate and how-to's, as well as featuring all of Gertie's beautifully crafted garments. The sew-a-long is using the "Lady Grey" pattern from Colette Patterns. (The line drawing on the left gives the design in greater detail).

Based in Portland, Oregon in the US, Colette Patterns is an independent pattern company run by Sarai Mitnick who has designed a collection of subtle, elegant, vintage-inspired sewing patterns. The Lady Grey will be the first Colette Pattern that I have sewn and I can't wait to get my teeth into it.

Now all I have to do is find some fabric!

Happy Sewing xx

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Ooh La La! What a Palaver.

OK, so things are a little hectic here. All ongoing projects have been dropped and I have been running round like a headless chicken but without the gore. The reason for this is that I have been asked to take part in Ooh La La organised by burlesque beauty, Miss Dolly Tartan, and described as a "tasty treat of burlesque, vintage and hand-crafted fashion". This mix of market and catwalk shows takes place on the 23rd of July in Glasgow's Britannia Panopticon and is part of the Merchant City Festival. For those of you not familiar with the Panopticon (pictured left in the 1890's), it is the oldest surviving music hall in the UK, if not the world! This gorgeous old building played host to some of the greatest stars of  music hall & silver screen such as Harry Lauder, Stan Laurel & Cary Grant.

Ooh La La is a fundraiser towards the restoration of this building which finally closed its doors in 1938. Since then the Panopticon had suffered from years of neglect and had fell into disrepair until the Britannia Music Hall Trust and The Friends of Britannia Panopticon stepped in to the safeguard this wonderful piece of social history from disappearing forever.

Catwalk shows will be on all day so I am designing a small collection of six corsets to be shown with the stunning creations of top Edinburgh milliner, Le Hat Noir. Boy, has this been a hard one. I have spent the best part of a couple of weeks pacing the floor and reading every fashion book and corsetry tome that I have in the house, and there are loads. Still inspiration, that fickle mistress, just sat and thumbed her nose at me and I have been left without a clue of what I was going to make. Saying that, I did make a start at the weekend, spending most of Sunday cutting and sewing like a dervish. Keeps the neighbours amused anyway!

I finally started on a yellow and black number using this fabric combination. I fell in love with the canary yellow sik dupion fabric when I saw it but didn't purchase enough to make a whole overbust corset and be able to bind it in self-fabric. I am going to use black satin duchesse binding and set it off with black velvet and black/gold/white jacquard ribbon.

Hope that it look better when it is finished! xx

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Orange Crush

This is a dress that I ran up for my DD. I don't know what has been wrong with me lately but I seem to have lost my sewing mojo and it seems like I have been sewing this forever. Probably something to do with all the recent late nights at work so I have been way less than motivated to sew when I come home. I have had this dress and the Burda 113 sitting on my sewing table for weeks with only a few small things to do to them. So, this weekend I was determined to get them finished, especially as I have a lot of corset sewing to do in the next couple of weeks (more on that later).

The dress itself is a mash-up of Burda 113, from the 02/2009 magazine, and some strips of fabric I had lying around (for 6 years!). I bought this stuff to make little dresses when DD was much smaller and only had 1 metre of the pink with flowers, 0.75m of the butterfly fabric as it was a remnant, and pieces of the main orange fabric. All the fabrics are nice batik cottons from John Lewis, as is the orange cotton bias tape around the hem.

Initially I had cut the fabric into strips to make a long, layered "gypsy"-style skirt but felt that it would make a nice dress with a bodice added. I chose the Burda113-02/2009 as I had run this dress up for a friend and liked the pattern. The empire line bodice was just what I was looking for. Due to the lack of orange fabric I had to cut the back pattern piece into 2 to get it to fit on the fabric that was left. The shoulder part just fitted with no seam allowance. Luckily however, I was able to place it just slighly off-grain to fit where the straight part of the back piece started. This allowed me to cut this piece with no seam allowance and to add 3cm to the other back piece without distorting the shape. I used yellow cotton batiste for the inner facings as I wanted to keep it cool and summery.Size-wise my DD is very tall, she stands 5' 3" at 9yrs and is broad like me. Based on her measurements she is nearest to a Burda sz40 but I cut a 42 to give me some extra room to play with. It was a tiny bit roomy in the back so I added to straps but she can "grow into it" *haha* and it fits very nicely when these are tied. If I make this again I might shorten the shoulders by 1/2cm or so as it is quite low, but not obscenely so, and it perfect for all the hot weather that we have been having. Now just to get on and finish the 113!

Happy sewing. xx

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Vintage Pattern Grading for Plus-Sizes

Ok, so now that I have a suitably large stash of vintage patterns, a huge fabric stash and more notions than one woman has a right to, it's time to get busy and start making them up. However, before I can do that I have to grade them and not just a little bit either. So where to start? Conventional wisdom has it that it is not worth grading up more than a couple of sizes as it will just turn out wrong.  All the collars & pockets will be out of proportion and the darts will be off. Here at MOR, I say "to hell with convention" (I am sure that phrase will come back to haunt me). 

We all know that the range of vintage patterns in a plus-size is pretty limited and that the ones that you fall in love and that will fit are very rare so I have decided to have a go making up one vintage pattern using a number of different grading methods to compare. I am going to try 3 ways: The slash 'n' spread, the pivot and slide and the grading method in my copy of "Metric Pattern Cutting" by Winifred Aldritch. 

The lucky pattern of choice will be Butterick 5871, a funky 60's -70's blouse pattern with 5 variations. I love the styling for this and could use some summer blouses for work. I have a lot to add to this pattern as I need to do a FBA and grade it up a little at the waist and hips. It is a size 18/ 38" bust but more on that when the (grading) fun begins!

Wish me luck xx

Burda Style Magazine: Style 114/May 2010 The beginning!

This month's issue of Burda Style magazine (the former BWOF) was pretty good pattern-wise and featured a lot of nice summer dresses. I love Burda and have been collecting it religiously for years, although to be fair IMHO the patterns have got a LOT better in their styling in the last year or so.  To break me in gently to sewing something that wasn't a corset I have decided to use up some of my fabric stash making dresses for my DD. I have some nice light weight contrasting cotton prints and some cotton batik that I had bought a couple of years ago but never had the time to do anything with. They were mostly in 1m pieces. I decided to sew up Style 114 which calls for a couple of metres of cotton batiste.

This dress is very simple. Just 4 rectangles, 2 larger than the previous, sewn onto a bodice section with a racer back. The top section is supposed to be self-lined but for the light butterfly fabric I used a white cotton batiste from John Lewis to stop the butterflies on the reverse shining through to the right side. I have decided to use bias binding on the arm holes to add a splash of colour. It just needs a zip now and hemmed and it will be done. I am not sure what I think about this dress. It is pretty simple and is nice and summery but something about the styling leaves me a bit cold. I will post pics when it is finished this week and see if I have changed my mind by then. I am not too happy about the sequence of the fabric and think that I should have put the darker middle tier on the bottom. Still it is just a scruffing about dress but maybe this is what is putting me off *hhmmn*.

Have you made this dress? What do you think? Better in different fabric? Why not let me know?

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Do Your Patterns Cut It?

I have bought quite a few sewing patterns recently, scoring a bag full out of one the local charity shops...woo hoo..., buying 11 Butterick Retro and Vintage Vogue pattern reissues from their website and a few off eBay. The charity shop ones are a fantastic selection of styles from the 30's to the 80's none of which were anywhere near my size but hey whatever is, especially in vintage patterns? Still I "had to have them". "Had to" like a junkie needs a fix "have them". After rushing home sweating and shaking with my booty and the euphoria of the hit had worn off I realised that there would have to be a whole lot of pattern grading going on before I could even dream of fitting myself into any of them.

However, this got me thinking about why I was buying them and what my motivation was when looking for something new to make.

I know that I will not be alone in pining madly after some pattern for months only to finally get it into my hot little hands and lose interest, while it languishes in a drawer never to be seen again. Worse still, decide that I was mad and that I would never ever wear it or, the most depressing of all, it would make me look like a pregnant bag lady. Yeh, plus size patterns, we mean you!

So what do you do with a pile of patterns on your hands? How do you define your pattern pecking order? Is your sewing ruled by your heart or your head? Would be interested to hear how you choose?

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Where There's Muck There's Brass

Well this is my first proper post, a little late but what is a couple of *ahem* weeks between friends? Life has been pretty hectic recently. Joy of joys, I have completed "Step One" of the MOR process by starting a new job. This is not only really something and somewhere that I want to be but is closer to home so that I have more time to devote to the things I love, namely sewing vintage & gardening. At first you might think that these pastimes are not even kissing cousins, but as I hope that you will see unfold, they are born out of my desire to recycle, repurpose and reuse things in my life and to make do with the resources around me instead of buying into the "throw away" mentality that is is the norm today. So, maybe even if they not are a teeny bit consanguinous they might possibly have shared a drunken snog at some random party.

Talking of reproduction, (yep, one paragraph and already she lowers the tone) I have been spending a bit (read "lot") of time recently salivating over the titillating pictures in the online seed catalogues and ordering some varieties that I haven't tried before. I have got a whole load of different veg varieties from Nicky's Nursery and from the local supermarkets who seem to have really caught on to the whole "grow your own" thing really well. After all, where there's muck there's brass right?

In the garden there are quite a lot of things growing, especially the weeds which are growing like themselves. Surprisingly, even though it has not had much in the way of human disturbance in the last 18 months, there are some very nice looking clumps of perennials popping up from between the couch grass. No too much in the way of colour yet though. I think that in Scotland we are usually a few weeks behind places further south and anything that was brave enough to pop its head above ground has been mercilessly savaged by our rabbit, Rabbit Pie. She may be cute but she is an eating machine that views any plant in the garden as a free lunch. Still she is cheaper, and greener, than a lawn mower and much nicer to look at don't you think?

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Invasion of the Body Snatchers

Have you ever had one of thse days when you have woken up, stumbled to the bathroom only to recoil in horror as you realise that the slim, stylish, twenty-something you used to be has seemingly lost her flavour overnight and turned into the flabby, nondescript, middle-aged woman staring blearily back out of the mirror. When, and more importantly how, did this happen? Alien abduction, radiation from outer space and "Stepford Wives" all spring to mind only to be replaced slowly with the realization that it is YOU. In glorious "beige-nay-colour", if you pardon the pun.

Well, I for one think that "something should be done". "But what?", I hear you cry "..and by whom?". Here comes the hard part as you find that both the victim and the villain of the piece are, well you guessed it, you. "But", I hear you cry, "it's not my fault, I have no time, got to work, juggle kids, look after the house/goat/aged parent". This is NO EXCUSE!!

Mother of Reinvention is my blog dedicated to reinventing my life, my garden and my wardrobe. Follow me on a voyage of discovery as I traverse the uncharted waters of waistline & wardrobe. Marvel at my swashbuckling attempts to grade vintage sewing patterns while simultaneously planting veg beds (or something to that effect). Welcome to Mother of Reinvention.