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

Thursday, 17 October 2013

School skirt No.2

This is a very simple 8 gored skirt, fastened with a zip and some poppers to fasten the waistband. As per usual such a simple project took loads more time than it should have done. This was going be my "full" skirt but it didn't end up as full as I wanted it to be so next time I'll enlarge the sides of the pattern pieces or I'll just do a full circle skirt.
The fabric was a mistake. 1.99 polycotton which fluff sticks to like nobody's business! Never again! Nightmare to cut out!
I finished the hem with white bias binding as I had no black in my stash and being 16 and living in the country I just can't pop out and get some. It's okay, nobody can see it anyway. I recently found out that you are supposed to lift the bias a couple of cm's above the hem and then slip stitch it so I'll do that next time.
Please forgive me for the zip not being central, the skirt just needs twizzle-ing round a bit. The zip was a nightmare as it just kept bubbling which I think was due to one side being longer than the other, but it's all sorted now. I did want to go for an exposed look.
All in all this skirt does it's job well. It works nicely with blazers and is perfect for school wear. It's a pity the fabric was such a let down, but hey, we all learn from our mistakes right?
Anyway, thanks for reading!
Lauren x

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Pinafore Dress

  Lately I've been seeing a lot of pinafore dresses around and I liked the look of them so much that I put one on my list to make, but the plan was to make one out of corduroy. I decided a couple of months ago that I'm not a fan of plaid, but now I feel that I've come round to it. I do love the colours of this one.
Mum kindly donated to me a load of flannelette that she originally bought for some cosy pjs years and years ago but decided that in reality it was never going to be used. Originally I wanted to make a shift dress with it, which seems perfect for winter with all of the shirts that I can layer under it, but mum suggested a pinafore dress. It seemed like an alright idea so I went with it, and now I just love it!
I used a basic circle skirt pattern for the base, and added a square for the front, shoulder straps and butttons and tada! Actually it turned out to be a lot longer process than it sounds. I had many issues with buttonholes, so in the end had to resort to using snaps and just sewing the buttons on time. These issues involved the unpicking of buttonholes, which I sincerely hope that you will never have to do. It was painful. If you're really looking for traces of them you will find them but they don't really stand out.

I did originally have the straps crossed a lot lower down, then when trying on I couldn't actually get it on, so it had to be unpicked and resewn higher up. Now though, I realise that I could have just put a popper on that as well.
 Look how well it matches!!! Was totally planned...
 My friend Meghan, whom I shall call the Director of this rather fabulous photoshoot (you can thank her for all of the poses) lent me her rather voluminous petticoat to show the pinafore to its maximum potentional. It has built in knickers in it! Genius for someone like me, that seems to accidentally flash the world far too often. I tried to swish away home in it, but unfortunately she caught me in the act and I had to return it to its rightful owner :(
That's about all I have to say so I thought I'd leave some of the out-takes for you to enjoy.
Tons of thanks to Connor for taking the photos and Meghan for telling me where to put my arms.
Thanks for reading!
Lauren x

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Floral Top

This is yet another top that I made for my sixth form wardrobe. The fabric was originally a skirt but it seemed to me that it would be a lot more wearable as a top, so a top it has become. For such a simple garment, I had to do far too much unpicking. I started off using a pattern, but it was rubbish as the armholes and neck were far too tight, in fact I couldn't even get it over my head. So, I unpicked the armholes and re-sewed them. 
Because this top was originally a skirt, the only way I could fit the pattern piece in was to have a seam in the back which was fine. I first wanted to unpick the first 8 inches or so from the seam and put a zip in. However, the zip I had in mind was metal, and so I felt that it was too heavy and would ruin the drape of the garment, so I still unpicked the 8 inches but just put a popper at the top. And there's me showing you what its like when I undo the popper. You also get a nice view of the bias binding.
I whipped up a bow belt to go with the outfit at lunch, an hour before these photos were taken. Lunch time now seems to be my hand sewing time. This belt was very similar to the one I made for my prom dress. It was made from the waistband of the skirt so it was already handily interfaced and fastened at the front with poppers.
That's everything so thank you for reading!
Oh and thanks again to Ainjiel for the photos!
Lauren x

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

School Skirt No.1

This year I entered sixth form, and the school uniform requirements have changed. From years 7 to 11 (aged 11-15) English schools typically wear a uniform. Mine consisted of a green blazer, green and white stripey blouse (fondly nicknamed the “toothpaste” blouse ) and a green pleated skirt. It was not pretty. But for the next two years of sixth form the dress code is extended to “work wear” which basically means that you need to wear skirt suits and trouser suits with a top of your choice. No dresses allowed :( So, I decided that there would be no point in buying any of this stuff (except blazers, I’m not quite at that level of expertise yet) so most of my sixth form clothing has been me-made. This is the first skirt.

I feel like a can’t really call this skirt a pencil skirt because it doesn’t go in enough at the legs so I think I’ll call it a straight skirt instead. This was my first attempt at lining a skirt and it went fairly well. I only attached it at the waistband and the zip as I was afraid that if I hemmed it to the outer material it would affect the drape. I wish I had interfaced the waistband as I can now see why you’d want to because it just isn’t stiff enough. I didn’t sew the zip in high enough so had a little gap between the end of the zip and the waistband so instead of unpicking the zip I cut out a patch of the same fabric and sewed one side to the left hand side and sewed a popper to the other. It worked but it definitely wasn’t the correct way to do it.

 The pattern I used was New Look 6335. It was an unlined pattern, but I just cut the same pieces as I did for the outside, excluding the waistband. I ended up cutting so much off the length that the split went entirely which does make it more difficult to run to the bus stop in the mornings. NB: Next time, please put one in! The only adjustment I made was to shave a couple of inches off each side to fit my baby hips.

As you can see in the pic above, I had a few issues with darts. Typically, a week later we did darts in textiles and so now I know exactly what to do. Funnily enough, the teacher pointed out this skirt as an example of darts. I should probably have let her know that I made it. The table below is one I made as part of my coursework and I thought that it might be useful for some people.

This pic just shows off the lining underneath. I was rushing so both the lining and the exterior fabric were hemmed by the machine. The issue I’m having is that the lining is so slippery that it twists the skirt around as I walk. Maybe this is because It just isn’t tight enough?

Yay, you can’t really see the zip in the back! Instead of the button and buttonhole required by the pattern I used a popper. I tried to make a buttonhole. It was perfect on the practice time, the moment I put the real thing through the machine I get nothing. And I didn’t change anything! Argh it’s so frustrating. But a popper will do for now, until I figure out how to do them.

Please excuse the hole in my tights. This was after a long day of school. On fridays, sixth formers at my school get to go home one hour early. Because of buses that was impossible so we had a lovely trip to costa instead. En route I conned one of my new school friends Ainjiel-Shaolee Clark into taking these beautiful photos for me. Thank you Ainjiel!
‘Til next time,
Lauren x

Floral Shift Dress

This dress has been brilliant to wear this summer (or for the hot days we’ve had this summer) as it’s so light  and loose, but still has shape to it. It has been worn many many times and is just generally amazing. And I have no idea why I can’t stand upright like a normal person. Sorry for the creases, it was in my bag all day as I was going over to a friends to take advantage of his fancy camera (again) and it’s made of linen. The neck, armholes, and hem were all slip-stitched in on the ferry to France.

I used the vintage Simplicity 5421 teen pattern which was age 14. At the age 0f 16 my bust is 3 inches smaller than that of a girl aged 14 so this dress required A LOT of alteration in that department. Actually it required a lot of alteration in every department. I took about 3 inches out of the centre front and a fair bit out of the side seams and out of the princess seams as well. I did make a mock up but have mysteriously lost the centre front which is the piece that I altered the most, so I if I make it again I’m going to have to refit it all again. Sigh.

Image found here:
When it was all altered it did fit really well, but was just loose enough to keep cool during the hot weather. I probably should mention that it was originally about 3 inches longer than this so I’m paying my dues for not pre washing it beforehand. The fabric by the way was gifted to me by one of my friends mums with about 3 other bin bags full of fabric! The zipper was originally hand sewn in but it wasn’t strong enough so I lapped it on the machine as well to make it as secure as possible.

That’s all I can think of to say about this dress at the moment so bye for now!
Thanks for reading!
Lauren x

The Golden Dress

This was one of the times that you go to a fabric market stall with a list of fabric that is needed and you come away with something completely different. What can I say, this print was just too good to walk past.

The fabric is quite a thick knit that cost four pounds per metre and one metre was all that I could afford to get which rules out any full skirts (sad face). I browsed through Wendy Mullins Sew You Home Stretch ( I can hear you all sighing and thinking “oh no not this book again”) and found a fairly fitted dress which consisted of two bodice pieces (front and back), two skirt pieces (front and back) and some sleeves which I missed out in favour of being able to fit a tank top out of the fabric as well. The design in the book had a contrasting bodice to the skirt but I just ignored that bit.

I learnt that if you zigzag too close to the edge the fabric goes all weird so you have to have quite a big seam allowance. I think I ended up slipstitching the neck line. I had to take it in quite a bit at the hips and the waist to make it fit properly even though I cut out the smallest size which was an extra small. Next time I’ll lengthen the bodice quite a bit because the seam is really high above my natural waistline but isn’t high enough to be empire line.

 I commandeered my friends into directing and taking the photos. I’m going to say that some of the trampoline shots were more successful than others. It was great fun though.I’ll just leave you with one of the outtakes which I realise isn’t an outtake any more because it’s in the post but oh well.

Thanks to Connor for the use of his trampoline and for taking brilliant (if slightly scary photos) and Meghan for instructing me how to jump elegantly on a trampoline without legs spread right open.

As always, thanks for  reading!
Lauren x

Sixth Form Top


So this is a top that I made for sixth form, which I start on Friday. I had a few issues with this top, mainly because I thought it was a knit when it really was a cotton. I figured it out when it started to fray…  The fact that I thought it was a knit meant that there was an unnecessary amount of zigzagging going on plus the using a pattern designed for knits. I was really worried about the sleeves being really tight because there’s no stretch, so phew. You can see me testing this below.

 It’s a tad short but that isn’t a problem as all of my high skirts are high waisted anyway. I thought very carefully about the pattern placement for this top because there was an interesting border parallel to the selvage which meant that I couldn’t use it as a hem so I used it for the sleeves instead.

 I used the same pattern that I did for my  from Sew You Home Stretch by Wendy Mullin which had an elasticated waist which I ignored. I just used the pattern for the sleeves which are gathered with elastic at the bottom.

 I’m obviously not wearing the skirt for sixth form, however that was the only black skirt available as I still need to hem the pencil skirt that will be worn in its place.
That’s it for now, thanks for reading, and again, BIG PICTURES! Oh and thanks to Connor who took the photos with his lovely camera and for the use of his garden.
Lauren x

Floral Shorts

It’s boiling here in the UK so I decided that I was in need of some nice floral shorts. These are high-waisted because I have a very long torso, and the high waist breaks it up a bit.
This is my second attempt at bottoms. The first was a pair of trousers which I approached with trepidation as I have heard about all the issues that you can face with the crotch length etc. However these fitted fairly well with just a few alterations. The second time round with these shorts only took a couple of hours in total as they are quite simple to put together when you know what goes where.

The pattern I used was a vintage Simplicity 9944 released in 1981 which was inherited from someone or other. They are high waisted with a back zipper, which relieved me from figuring out how to do a fly front zipper.
It is a size 12 but the muslin was fairly easy to fit as it just needed tapering in at the hips and the waist.
To make the trouser pattern into a shorts pattern I just cut off 5cm after I wanted the shorts to finish.

 The fabric was a fairly light weight cotton which was a bargain at £2 a metre. The shorts only used up 1m so I still have 3m left to figure out what to do with. There have been several ideas, but none have come to fruit just yet. It is going to be a dress, but any more I can not tell you.

The only issues I had with these was the hem as I tucked it underneath there was excess fabric so there was a bit of tuckage in various places, but no one will notice…I hope…
All in all I’m really pleased with these shorts. They have already become a summer wardrobe staple.
Oh and I’m going on a Symphony Orchestra tour tomorrow so i wont be posting for a week or so.

Thanks so much for reading!
Lauren x

My First Pair of Trousers

These are a pair of high-waisted trousers with a zip up the back instead of the modern fly front zip. I looked around in a couple of charity shops for a large pair of trousers that I could recycle the material from and I found a pair of size 16 linen trousers for 3.50 (this is in pounds still, turns out I’m not blind, there really isn’t a pounds key on this new keyboard).

This was the pattern that I used. Even though it was a size 12 they fit fairly well, but just need a bit shaving off at the hips which is to be expected. As they are fairly loose trousers I’m guessing that was why I didn’t encounter any of the difficulties that  I was anticipating.

I strategically placed the back pattern pieces bearing in mind the placement of the back pockets that I recycled from the original pair of trousers. I also used the waist band so I didn’t have to figure out how to do a buttonhole. The bottom of the pattern pieces was cut on the hem so I didn’t have to hem it but next time I’ll let down the hem because I don’t like the raw edges at the sides so visible near the hem. The zip was handpicked and obviously needs doing again, as I look at that photo.
And please don’t ask why my head is in a forest of leaves because I don’t know either…

Why can’t I stand straight like a normal person?!
Anyway, I love these trousers as they put me back into proportion as I have a long torso and I’ll probably make them again in a suiting fabric for sixth form.

Thanks for reading!
Lauren x

A Dress in a Day

As a thank you for the tons of help my friend Meghan (to your left) gave me towards my maths GCSE I wanted to make a dress with her, and this was the finished product! We managed to make a muslin of the bodice, and a fully lined dress from 10am-10pm with breaks for lunch and tea which was pretty good going, we thought. Meghan did 95% of the sewing (I did a bit of the hemming) and I instructed, which was good for me because I “consolidated my learning” by passing it onto another human being.

We used view E from Simplicity 3823 with a button loop halterneck as there wasn’t enough fabric for ties as we had 2 metres of fabric.
The construction of the bodice is really clever as the lining leaves no raw edges, making it lovely inside. As we cut out the skirt pieces in a white cotton for the muslin we thought that we might as well line the skirt. The lining fabric and the fashion fabric were hemmed individually so they could hang properly.
I have attempted to use this pattern before without much success, because even though it has a size 6 there are an extra 2 1/2 inches of ease which I could really do without! I realised though that when I did my previous muslins I shouldn’t have lined them as that makes it so much harder to alter. With this in mind we cut a size 10 as that was what her bust measurement fitted with the finished measurements at the bottom of the envelope.

The only changes we made were to alter the neck line slightly to stop it from gaping and to make sure that Meghan doesn’t flash everybody.
We slip stitched the hems on both the lining and the fashion fabric. In reflection we could have just machine sewn the lining and saved oodles of time.
We found a perfectly matching yellow zip to go down the side of the dress which was handpicked for precision.

This was the halterneck button closure. We found a button that matched from Mums massive button collection. The pattern called for two but one fairly big one seemed to work fine. For the loop, I folded some thin red ribbon in half and slip stitched it together as I can’t figure out for the life of me how I am supposed to turn a tube of fabric 0.5 cm in width the right way out.

The fabric was amazing, with all sorts of things on, including unicorns and suits Meghan perfectly. It was sourced at a local market stall.

A massive petticoat complemented the full skirt perfectly.
It was great fun making this dress together and I’m sure that we’ll do a lot more sewing in the future.

Thanks so much for reading!
Lauren x