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?

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Antique Notions, Fab Fabrics and a Button Bonanza

Two posts in one week? I must be feeling a little strange. Actually there is a lot going on at the moment in real life that I can't share yet so I have not really had much time to blog, although I do keep up with a) shopping for all things sewing-related and b) reading all your blogs. 

This is a quick post just to share some of the the goodies that I have managed to score in the charity shops of late. Not the vintage homewares, just the sewing stuff.  I have been adding to my mid-century tableware collection but you are here for the sewing stuff, right?

Even though they have the Scottish heroine, Flora MacDonald on the front this packet of needles was made in England sometime between the late 1880 and 1909 by Abel Morrall Ltd., in the Clive Works, Redditch. There is a really interesting short post on the company here

The vintage buttons include loads of Bakelite and Art Deco beauties. I honestly have been buying them every week now and now have a button box to rival my Mum.  I feel a bit off potentially using such old buttons on new clothes though. Do you ever use stuff as old as they are in your sewing?

I have also picked up some fab fabrics, including a few 2-3 metre lengths of hand blocked silk and batiks. They have all been hand-washed and dried but not ironed so are a bit crinkly.

I also found some wonderful 70's (???) needlecord (the black and russet one). It's not a lot, less than 1 metre, but will be enough for the front of waistcoat. I have a gorgeous 70's St Michael velvet maxi skirt in almost the same design. Just wish that I could still fit into it!

Sprogzilla has got herself a very nice BF. This makes me feel really old. His folks are really lovely and gave me some gorgeous flowers from their farm. Aren't they glorious? They cheered me up no end.

Anyway, No matter where you are this week or what you are doing I am sending you a wish for peace and happiness. Too much sadness and conflict in the world at the moment.

So do you collect vintage sewing notions? A button-a-holic? Would you use your treasures or keep them for posterity? 

Until next time,
K Xx

Sunday, 20 August 2017

What's the Secret of the Black (Magic) Box? Singer Vintage Sewing Machine Feet and How to Use Them

Hello, Lovelies! Well it ain't chocolates but something far more interesting indeed to us sewing ladies.

I tend to go to the local charity shops on a Saturday. As I seem to be the only vintage-loving, sewing lady "in the village" there is usually something interesting to be bagged and added to the pile of sewing stuff I don't have time to use. Last weekend I was back home in Scotland so when I went in yesterday the lady behind the counter mentioned that she had something that hadn't sold last week but she had thought of me and if I was interested I could have it half-price.  Intrigued I was handed a black box and my heart leapt.

The box itself has seen better days but when opened is lined in the most gorgeous purple velvet and contained a whole load of feet for a Singer sewing machine. Being a vintage Singer owner these feet will come in really handy - if I ever work out how to use them that is! So in no particular order here goes*:

* Just to be clear I only knew what half of these feet were for. I had to look up the others on the absolutely wonderful website of Helen Howes which is a wealth of info if ever there was one. I love the Internet. 

Foot 1

This is an adjustable hemming foot. I don't think that anyone else made these but there are a couple of useful YouTube videos on how to use them. This is one. Seams really useful to me.  Oh, I am so punny. :)

Foot 2

Apparently, this is an under braiding foot in which the braid is attached to the right side of the material but is sewn from the wrong side. Who knew? I think that this one will come in really handy. YouTube tutorial here.

Foot 3

 I actually knew what this was! It is very like my modern bias binding foot. The binding needs to be quite small to go though this but it would be great for finishing raw edges before hemming and for Hong Kong finishing. YouTube here.

Foot 4

Knew this one too. No, it's not some sort of S&M plaything, it is a ruffler,  a 5 + 1 apparently, one that pleats on all stitches or every 5th (didn't know that though). This will be very useful.  You tube (for modern feet but they are very similar) here.

Foot 5

Haha! This is not a toy aeroplane, this is a Singer tuck marker foot. I knew this one too! I have absolutely no idea how to use it though so will be avidly watching YouTube to find out how to make tucks on things (should I ever have a burning need to).

So do you own a vintage sewing machine? Do you have a lot of feet with it? Do you ever use them, or even know what they are for? What are your favourite sewing resources?

Plus, I have a whole load more charity shop booty to share with you soon. 

Laters, Lovelies.
K Xx

P.S. None of the videos are mine so a HUGE thanks to the people who share their sewing knowledge with us through websites and YouTube.  This is yet another reason why the Internet is so great. 

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

It's Not Class or Ideology, Colour, Creed or Roots. The Only Thing That Unites Us is Doctor Marten's Boots!

Okay, so you may have to have been in Britain in the 80's, and probably of a certain age, to get the reference but you have got to agree with the man.

Doctor Marten's boots (& shoes for that matter), once so beloved of workies and punks are now ubiquitous, holding a well-earned place as a mainstream fashion favourite. Things have moved on a lot since the days of black or oxblood leather., look at all the loveliness above.

And such fabulous children's boots. I am totally gutted that the purple mini-goth ones didn't come in my size.

I have been a proud Doc's wearer for about 35 years. They are comfy, practical and go with pretty much anything, I have even worn them with a business suit and got a load of compliments (I forgot my "proper adult" shoes - needs must. It was all good in the end).

So why am I wittering on? You will never guess what is a 10-minute car ride from me? Only the Doctor Marten's Factory Shop! As luck would have it, I wore my old knackered ones to work in the lab and one of the girls at work mentioned that it was close by. I am in boot-shopping heaven and am planning another visit this month too. There is no such thing as "too many shoes".

The shop sells a lot more than just footwear, with a great selection of socks, bags and clothing, although the few times I have been most of the clothes looked to be mostly small sizes. All the stock is either factory samples or overstocks from their shops so the selection is eclectic and you just have to be lucky. They restock three times a week and the prices are very low considering how much DMs normally retail for. I bought 4 pairs of boots at £40 each but prices range with what the style/colour/original price was. 

So if you are a Doc's fan the place is really worth the trip. If you fancy driving there the address is 71 High Street, Wollaston, Northants, Wellingborough, NN29 7QE. Apparently there is also a Kurt Geiger factory shop in the same area so I will let you know what it is like when finally I find it.

A final word -  the last few weeks have been filled with really sad, needless events at home and abroad. Definitely a time to come together, not drive ourselves apart. Listen to the song. Even though the message is 30 year's old it still rings true.

And bloody VOTE tomorrow if you are in the UK, especially if you are a woman. It wasn't that long ago that we got a voice. Use it.

So do you have a favourite brand or style of footwear? Are you a Doc's wearer or think that they are terrible?  

Take care, lovelies.