Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Top 5 Hits 2013

Top 5 of 2013 - An Annual Blog Series

Right, because this has been my first year of sewing I have made many, many mistakes but I have ended up with quite a few garments that I wear on a regular basis. Click on the pics to see the original blog post.
If you want to see everyone elses Top 5's they're in the comments of Gillians post here .

1) The Dotty Knit Dress

This was, I think my first time working knits, and it all went incredibly smoothly thanks to my Sew U Home Stretch book by Wendy Mullin. It has been worn countless numbers of times and I feel great in it. The only thing I would change about it is the sleeve length as 3 quarter sleeves make it difficult to wear with a cardigan on top limiting the months that it can be worn in.

2) School Skirt No. 1

 Simple as it is, I've worn this skirt at least once a week since the beginning of September and it has held up surprisingly well. It's one of my most worn sixth form skirts, and was the first skirt that I lined.

3) Plaid Pinafore Dress

I love this dress so very very much. It's very "me" so I feel fab when I wear it resulting in me wearing it loads! It does have imperfections as the weirdly placed half buttonholes and the shoddy hem but nobody notices those so who cares! It also happens to be my most viewed blog post which is interesting.

4) The Ballet Dress

This one has also been worn loads as it's a perfect winter dress for layering under, but still looking half decent. Next time I will make the sleeves longer though.

5) The coffee date dress

I was very happy with this dress when I made it, but recently I pulled it out and thought hmm maybe not. The bodice ends above 3 inches above my natural waistline making it completely proportionally wrong. However, I put it in my top 5 because this was the first time that I'd actually added design elements instead of copying the pattern. In this instance I had the contrast lace bodice and hem band and the self drafted peter pan collar. I love how it looks, but just not on me.

And that's all of them! Interestingly 4 of these are dresses. I didn't wear dresses atall before I started sewing because I lived in jeans, but they are practically all I wear now I'm more comfortable with my style.

Thanks very much for reading. Hopefully I'll have time to squeeze in at least my goals for next year before midnight but if not HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!
Lauren x

Friday, 27 December 2013

Top 5 Misses of 2013

Top 5 of 2013 - An Annual Blog Series

This is bearing in mind that I started sewing for the first time in February and that I had no idea what I was doing! Oh also, this is only the misses out of the stuff that made it onto the blog. I'm not even going to think about my UFOs.

1) Winter Dress

This was the first thing that I made and wore out of the house, but I won't wear it out the house now. The zip is disastrously put in at the side front (!?) and the fit is awful. It has been sent to the attic. 

2) Prom Dress Bodice Wearable Muslin

This was my first fully lined bodice which I'm proud of but in my previous muslin of this dress the the armholes were too tight so I hacked a load off and now they are far too low! This means that I have to wear it with a tank top underneath which is just slightly inconvenient but still counts as a fail in my book.

3) A Swing Dress

In this dress I completely forgot that a zip may be needed. It was far too early in my sewing career to draft something myself with next to no knowledge and to expect it to work. Plus, 4 way stretch chiffon. 'Nuff said.

4) Floral Peplum Top

This is another failure because of the fit. You can't just cut out a size 10 and hope that you'll be able to alter it when it's all sewn together to a size 6! I especially regret this loss because this was some of my grandmas fabric and it's a shame to have waisted it. However, I have learnt from it nonetheless. Click on the titles for links back to the blog post. :)

5) School Skirt No. 2

This was purely a bad make because the fabric is disgusting and picks up every single little piece of fluff in the planet.

And that's it for all of my "misses" for 2013. It seems that I need to pay much closer attention to the fit, and the fabric before I buy it. But it is heartening to know that most of these makes I made a fair while ago meaning that my garments have had a higher success rate since. Yay!

Thanks so much for reading!
Lauren x

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Christmas party dress!

 This dress started as one thing in my head, which has been through many forms to get to what it is now, which is okay, although time consuming. Originally I wanted a princess-seamed bodice with a V-neck to go with the necklace I wanted to wear with a full skirt. Oh and the back folded out.  The pattern I used for the bodice was the same one that I used for my prom dress. I ironed this dress throughout the whole process like I never have before. And hopefully you can tell.
I went through a whole drafting process for the back and then re-read Gerties tutorial and realised all I needed to do was fully line the bodice, cutting the back pieces out of the fashion fabric and just folding them back. The tutorial I used to fully line my bodice was from here. The rest of the bodice lining was a cream cotton curtain lining (thrifty, huh? ;)). I didn't have time to line the skirt but hopefully I will do that at some point in the future. The zipper I hand-picked as usual, although an invisible one would probably have looked better.
I bought 2m of this fabric when we were in France during the summer holidays. Unfortunately my knowledge of french names for different types of fabric is zilch so I have no idea what it is. I can tell you that the right side is textured and the wrong side is flat if that helps?
The compulsory rattling of the present 
The skirt I first cut out and sewed together was pretty much a circle skirt in four pieces, but the center front seam stood out like a soar thumb against the bodice seams so that went. Then I cut out the pencil skirt which I fitted for School Skirt No.1 and attached that to the bodice. This at least matched the side seams and looked alright. However the bodice was not long enough for my long waisted torso so the skirt was higher up than it was fitted to making the fit of the dress slightly iffy. But, I was leaving in 1 hour so it had to do. I'm still pretty pleased with it overall.
So, that sums up my Christmas party dress okay I think. This was the one that I wore when I recieved my new singer (sob). It was going to be the first of many, but time is ticking so unfortunately it may be the one and only of 2013 :(
Right. I need to finish cutting out the pieces for dads shirt. I WILL get it finished in time for Christmas, I WILL!!!
Thanks for reading!
Lauren x

Friday, 20 December 2013

Me-Made Christmas Gifts 2013!

Today was the last day of term (yaay) and so today was when I handed out everyone's presents. It was all a bit last minute as usual (I definitely wasn't slip-stitching the stuffing into the pillows in the common room before school started, panicking when the person who the present is intended for enters, prompting me to lie on the table in an unnatural position to cover their present-in-progress...)
You'll notice a distinct them for this years presents. Pillows. I don't know why, but that's what happened. They were really easy to make personal for each of my friends. I backed all of the pillows with fleece to make them super cozy.  If you want to know how I made any of these please let me know and I'll write up a tutorial on the process :)

Catherine's Ninja Pillow:
(She does martial arts)

Emmas Chow Chow Pillow:
There's a bit of a story to this one which I'll explain to you all. Our AS Drama group decided to do a Secret Santa. However, there was a catch. We could only spend 94p!

As I only moved to the school this year I don't know Emma very well so I asked one of her friends a few questions (thanks Hollie!) and came away with the key facts; likes chow chows and bright colours. Cue a chow chow pillow using the complimentary colours yellow and purple! Boom!

I can hear you all thinking, "but she's forgot about the 94p!!" and "why is there a load of white candyfloss in a washing basket on my scales in the kitchen!?". Patience my friends! I will explain now. You see I bought 1kg of stuffing for $6.50 so my little brain thought "Ooh I can work out 1g and find out how much 94 cents worth would cost!" oh if only it was that simple. After many calculations and much hair tearing (maths is NOT my strong point) I came up with a number. It wasn't the right number, but it was a number. I tried. So yeah, sorry guys, that isn't candyfloss atall...  Anyway, Emma seemed to really like it so that's good.

Ainjiels Piano Pillow:
Ainjiel is in my AS Music class and she can spend hours at the piano (and is brilliant at it) so it seemed only right to make her one that she can (pretend to) play when her parents are trying to sleep! Hmm, or she could just look at it and stroke it. Whichever...

Jake's Nemo Tie:

Who wouldn't want to wear a tie made out of this fabulous fabric?! ;)
Maybe not with that shirt though...

The interfacing I used was a tad stiff, so will try and find some proper tie interfacing for next time.

I did make two other pillows, 1 an M shape for my friend Mercedes and a ps3 console shaped one for Megan who's an avid gamer. Oh and a pacman pillow for Lizzie. So yup, I'm pretty much all out of stuffing now...

One more thing, before I go. Last Sunday I had a Christmas meal with all of my friends from my old school to exchange presents and eat amazing food. It was also a perfect occasion to make a dress for (more on that when I get pictures). What I want to share on here though was the amazing gift they all clubbed together to buy and touch up for me.
Photo: I honestly can't put in to words how happy this made me. Thank you so so much, I am so lucky to have you all as friends. I hope you loved your presents just as much. Thank you for a wonderful evening. :)
Look!!!! I'm not ashamed to say how much I cried when I opened this and realised what it was. This model was made in 1908! 1908!!!!! Oh dear, I'm welling up again even now!
It's so special and is something I will treasure forever and ever.

Okay, I'm finished talking now!
Thanks so much for reading!
Lauren x

Sunday, 8 December 2013

The Ballet Dress

Firstly, I feel that I should explain the title of this post as I can understand why one could read "the ballet dress" and look at a pic of me doing a sailor pose and be incredibly confused. Basically I only decided to name the dress after saving the pictures to my laptop and after posing like a sailor (for some unknown reason) where a ballet pose would have been rather more suitable. It's called the ballet dress because we went on a school trip to see The Nutcracker in London this week and I decided that I had to wear a long-sleeved dress (because London is COLD man!). The issue was that I didn't own anything that fitted that description, hence a new dress had to be made. 
 This dress is great because I can stuff thermals under it and wear it with thick tights and boots and a coat etc and I'll be all warm and cosy. Until I step outside. But anyway... The pattern I used was Vogue's basic design 1923 which was very generously gifted to me along with a huge pile of other patterns and fabric by a friends Mum. Actually, this fabric was part of that pile too. Thank you Irenee! The changes I made were to shorten the length and chop away the neckline. This then had to be gathered because it was gaping everywhere.

The back was supposed to be buttoned but I just folded over the placket on the back bodice piece, cut it out and put a zip in it instead. Well, I did in theory. You see I cut the front pattern piece not on the fold so as it was pretty similar to the back bodice piece anyway I just used that instead and cut another front bodice piece (on the fold this time). And you can't even see the zip! The sleeves are a tad too short so I'll decrease the seam allowance next time.
sorry that my undertop is showing through!
The hem and neckline I finished off with extra-wide white bias binding on the bus. I only got a few stares...

I really like this dress and know I will wear it loads. It will hopefully look good with a petticoat underneath, although I am yet to try that. However next time I might do a gathered skirt to matched the gathered bodice as I'm not sure I like the unsymmetricality of it.
That's all I have to say for now!
Thanks so much for reading and to Dad for sacrificing his fingers to the cold so he could take pictures!
Lauren xx

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Pajama Bottoms

You may recognise this fabric from a previous make of mine (the plaid pinafore dress). As pajama day was approaching I set my heart on using the left overs for some really really comfy flannel pajama bottoms.
However, after I traced the smallest size of my pajama bottom pattern and laid it on the fabric, I didn't have quite enough.

As I said, I had to have pj bottoms out of this fabric so it was back to the drawing board for me.
My thoughts drifted to Lekala.co which is a pattern company that you give your measurements to and they send you a pdf 24 hours later with a pattern that fits your measurements exactly thus eliminating the need for a muslin. Did i mention that the pattern for these pj bottoms only cost $2.50?!
Because my measurements were smaller than drafted for in the too big pattern that I used this new pattern fit just fine widthways accross the fabric. However, lengthways was an issue.
To solve this problem I rummaged around to find the smaller scraps and painstakingly matched them to the top of the fabric already lying on the floor. When those scraps had given me enough length I slip stitched them to the original fabric and cut the pattern pieces out then sewed them as instructed in the patterns instructions. The slipstitching wasn't strong enough and ripped when I attempted to try them on so I zigzaged them on instead with my machine. I then attached the elastic to the waistband and gave them a tiny hem and my pj trousers were done.
My pattern matching was considerably better on the front than on the back so I'll just give you a pic of the front so you don't have a heart attack looking at the back. It was hidden by my tee-shirt on the day so it was fine anyway!
Is it obvious that the top of them consists of about 7 different scraps pieced together?
Also, excuse the thermals. England is cold. Plus, if one of the seams split, it's fine because my bum is already covered :P

The whole process was done the night before and the morning of. Apologies to my family, who were rudely awoken by the sound of my sewing machine at 6.30am. It won't happen again. Well, not for a while anyway.

Thanks so much for reading!
Lauren x

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Cropped Hoodie

It was pyjama day at school on Friday and there was no way on earth that I was going to turn up in my oh-so-comfy but oh-so-ugly pink fluffy dressing gown. This is where the hoody comes in. 
I already had a pattern in my Sew U Home Stretch book by Wendy Mullin so all I needed to do was purchase some fleece. I found mine at cheapfabrics.co.uk. It says in the book 2 metres fleece, 1/2 metre ribbing. I only used 1 metre and 1/4 roughly of each so I have 1 metre fleece left over. What can you do with fleece besides making a hoody?
Showing off the ribbing and the cuffs
I chose size XS automatically but next time I would size up a far bit. I had to make it cropped because I only had an 18" hoody zip (no idea what the correct terminology for that is) instead of the 20" zip required. The zip was handpicked because I didn't trust myself to do a lapped one right the first time round without any unpicking and I needed to wear it the next day.
I cut out 4 pieces for the hood instead of two so I could line it and have a clean finish. I actually used the wrong side of the fleece because I just preferred the texture to the right side.
Just let me show you my ribbing again before you go!
Well that's all I've got to say for now, oh hang on. I do want to sew presents for family and friends for Christmas, but I haven't got a clue what to sew. Any ideas? Okay, now I'm done.
Thanks for reading!
Lauren x

Sunday, 10 November 2013

My Halloween Costume!

Every halloween I invite a bunch of friends over for some good food and a couple of films (We watched The Birds and Dark Shadows).  This year after a lot of humming and harr-ing and about a thousand different ideas I decided that I was going to be a vampire. This was what I came up with.  
The pattern I used for the bodice was Style 3794. It consists of an elasticated neck and huge puff sleeves which are also elasticated. A zip is supposed to go in the back but that was omitted due to the fact that I am much smaller than a size 10 so it wasn't needed. I also omitted the bust darts because I didn't have time to fit them properly and the bodice was going to be tucked in anyway. I held the front pattern piece to the mannequin so see how much to take out of the centre fold. This ended up being about 2 inches. My skirt fabric wasn't wide enough for the pattern pieces of this pattern so I used the pattern that I used for the skirt of my prom dress instead.
Fabricwise I used taffeta for both the main bodice, sleeves and skirt. The wine coloured taffeta I found in a remnant bin for 2 pounds! Bargain! I didn't have enough of that for the skirt as well so I found some black/blue taffeta at Leicester market which was also a bargain at 15 pounds for 3 metres. I used some black lace also found at Leicester market. Sadly there was only enough for the neck ruffle and not the sleeve ruffle but luckily there was enough left for a belt.
This is what it looks like untucked. I didn't have time to hem it or the ruffle actually but they're both okay because the top is tucked in anyway, and the lace won't fray so IT'S FINE.
My friend Meghan and I had great fun making all the food. Amusingly we only got pics of pudding. I guess carrot soup isn't that photogenic anyways. 
The ghost and mummy cake pops
They were orange and purple inside!
Skeleton gingerbread men. (I found the coolest gingerbread cutter at John Lewis)

Green cupcakes with halloweeny sprinkles
Cobweb chocolate orange cupcakes (I even did the cobwebs myself!)

I'll leave you with the most vampiric pic of me..
Argghh NOOO THE LIGHT IS KILLING ME but I really need to show you how voluminous my skirt is!

Thanks so much for reading! I hope you had a great Halloween!
Lauren xx

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Black Knit Pinafore

 Hello! I was digging around in my UFOs (unfinished objects) box the other day trying for something I could quickly finish to wear to London the next day (because you have to look your best when going to London) and this only required the sleeves edges and the hem to be finished. That's manageable I thought. It wasn't, I wore my Plaid Pinafore Dress instead which has become a firm favourite,  but I finished it later on because it's a great winter staple to go over shirts and the like.
Argghhh necklace why can't you stay central!
The pattern I used was from Sew U Home Stretch by Wendy Mullin which I use as a base for all of my knit projects. The line drawing below is the original pattern which I extended to make into a dress which only works because I have no hips (well noticeable ones anyway) This is the same pattern that I used for my dotty knit dress. but this time I omitted the sleeves.
It's funny because I started the construction of this waaay back in march, april time when I'd only been learning to sew for a couple of months. When I looked at it when finishing it off there was so much that I'd do differently, which just goes to show how far my sewing skills have come.

 The fabric is actually a double knit which came in a tube which was new to me, but fine to work with. The neckline is finished with turned over elastic and the hem and armholes were just turned over and slipstitched.
Oh necklace, what have I ever done to you? And by the way, this is my "ooh something interesting seems to be going on over there" face. In case you were wondering.
All in all I like this dress, but I'm not sure whether the proportions are wrong, because I have a long body. Would lowering the neckline help that? Not sure. It might just look better if I remove the elastic and then cut and sew a shift dress out of it instead. Hmm.
Anyway, thanks so much for reading! I'm just waiting for pics of a couple of halloween costumes I've made this year so stay tuned!
Lauren x

Sunday, 27 October 2013

A DIY Dinosaur/ Dragon Costume

This is the first of two costumes I have been commissioned to make for Halloween this year! I asked Jake (my commisioner) to find me a onesie to save time and then I got cracking. I think it would work equally well with an old T-Shirt and jeans if you can't find a onesie. The onesie wasn't cut into once during this process so if you get bored of being a Dinosaur you can just unpick the slipstitching. Carry on for the full "how-to"!

What you will need:

  • Fabric. I used two contrasting colours of velvet because I didn't have enough of the green for the tail as well. I did have to be extra careful when cutting out because of the nap. Fleece would work just as well.
  • Interfacing. I think I used around 1 metre for an adult sized costume. This stabilized the velvet and made it stiffer so the spikes stood on their own.
  • Stuffing, enough to fill the tail.
  • Onesie (I bought one to save time but feel free to make one if you have a pattern lying around)
  • Paper scissors for cutting out the interfacing because I didn't want the glue on it to mess up my fabric scissors
  • Fabric scissors for cutting out the velvet.
  • Triangle templates for the tail and the spikes. Don't forget to add seam allowances.

1. Cut out triangles

You will need 4 triangles for each spike
- 2 velvet
- 2 interfacing
6 triangles are needed for the tail
- 3 velvet
- 3 interfacing
 (I tried four triangles for the tail, but ended up unpicking one of them because 3 looked a lot better)
I cut out 54 triangles in total!
On your left are the interfacing triangles that I cut out for the spikes and on the right is my template for the tail triangles.

2) Sew the Triangles Together

You should have from the top facing you, interfacing, wrong side velvet, right side velvet, interfacing for the green triangles. Another way to look at is putting the velvet triangles right sides together and then putting an interfacing triangle on either side. Making sense?
When all of the little bundles are all pinned and ready sew 2 sides of them (leaving the other so you can turn them the right side out) and clip near the point, so you do get a point when you turn them right side out.

For the tail triangles you want to sew both sides of the middle triangle right sides together to the other 2 triangles so you end up with a very wide triangle (see pic above).

3. The Tail

Pin and stitch the spikes facing inwards down the raw edge of the 3 triangles so they stay put. When that's done put right sides together and stitch down the side. Turn out the right way.

Stuff the tail until full. Do a running stitch around the edge of the opening and pull to gather. This gets rid of the raw edges. Pin the tail to the onesie (I placed mine just above the beginning of the trouser seam).

4. Attach the Spikes

Measure and chalk a line down the middle of the back of the onesie. Fold the raw edges of the green triangle inwards so you have a clean edge. Pin to secure. Place on line drawn and pin down like you did with the tail. Repeat with all of the other triangles/spikes. Stitch on when happy that they are all where you want them to be.


I think the only thing I would change about this costume is the colour of the tail as it stands out a bit too much. It would have looked better if it was green, like the spikes.

Thanks so much to Jake for the idea, the commision and the modeling!

Thanks so much to you dear reader, for reading!
Lauren x