Monday, 29 December 2014

Top 5 Misses 2014

When looking through my portfolio I had to scroll pretty far down to find any misses which is great as my sewing seems to be on the whole much more successful this year. That's pretty good for only my second year of sewing.

1. First up in chronological order are my first pair of jeans. They are just too uncomfortable in a denim without any stretch and as a result they haven't been worn much atall. The zip in the back just looks bad, and I wish I had made the effort to put a fly front in instead. The pockets just aren't positioned right either. However, I do have new jeans plans for 2015. I have bought the Ginger jeans pattern and plan to make those up in a stretch denim. Fingers crossed they will be more successful than these!

2. Next up, made all the way back in March was my Stardust dress made for my birthday party. It was too short and the fabric frayed disgustingly. When beating up my birthday pinata the dress sustained several rips and thus became unwearable. It has since been cut up and transferred to paper pattern pieces because it did fit well when it was still in one piece.
3. Third up is my red wool blazer. It was a pretty ambitious make, by far the most complicated thing I've ever made but a couple of elements have put me off it and as a result, it barely gets worn. I didn't make a muslin and it was just too big. I may just be an extremely lazy person but 5 buttons is just too much when putting a coat on and off. It takes too much time to button up.
4. My penultimate "miss" is the dotty woven strips dress that I made for project sewn. Weaving the strips of fabric together was a great experiment that just didn't turn out as well as I'd hoped. The bodice was just too heavy for a dress. The woven strips would maybe have been better suited for a coat. As a result of this the dress was cut up and the skirt recycled for something else.
5. My last miss was the floral trousers. I took all the ease out off the back pieces for some stupid reason so these are pretty uncomfortable to wear. Shame, because I feel great when I wear them. 

That's all 5! I think the reason that more of my garments are wearable is that now I pay more attention to fit, I feel better in them, so I wear them more. It makes sense.

Thanks for reading,
Lauren xx

Friday, 26 December 2014

Christmas Jumper and Velvet Lady Skater

A christmas dress for me needs to be warm, comfortable and able to take a lot of food whilst also being slightly "special occasion". After a lot of consideration I decided on a stretch velvet lady skater which would be all of the above. The black velvet was left over from a school project last year so essential this dress was free! It's a bit black though, so I decided it needed a Christmas jumper to brighten it up a bit.
The pink sweatshirt I made a couple of months ago fit the bill, but needed making a little more Christmassy. There was a battle between the penguin and the christmas tree but the penguin won.
 And ta-da! It was a great Christmas outfit. I felt festive but was still warm and cosy. This time the lady skater bodice was quite right (in the past it's been too low) and I added some volume to the skirt to give it a bit more oomph. I am wearing 2 petticoats here just to maximize the poof.
I hope you all had a great Christmas! Thanks very much to Dad for taking these photos on our morning walk, and to you for reading!
Lauren xx

Monday, 22 December 2014

Top 5 Hits 2014

This year I found it a lot harder to narrow down my successful makes which is such a good thing because this years makes have been so much more wearable than last years. It's interesting that the 5 I have picked are from May onwards, so that's obviously a point where my sewing took a turn for the better! They are listed from the earliest make to the most recent.

No. 1 is my floral strapless maxi dress which I made for the sewalong of Project Sewn. It's definitely one of my top 5 because I feel so good when I wear it. And it fits. And I love the fabric. I'm planning on wearing it to prom this year.
No. 2 is my lace lady skater because it's the perfect more casual party dress. The knit factor is very good for overeating, and it's a very comfortable dress to wear. This dress has been worn many many times.
No.3 is my navy archer shirt, purely because this was one of my first times making a shirt and figuring out the collar and the button placket and buttonholes worked out pretty well. I have yet to attempt shirt sleeves though. Maybe next year is the year. Those shorts are also amazing, but living in England they haven't had much wear. They did come in really handy in Singapore though.
No. 4 would have to be my blazer with the shawl collar, purely for the sheer amount of time and perseverance that went into it. Last year it would have been chucked into the corner for eternity but this year I managed to retrieve it from the corner fairly quickly and get it done. This was good because I wear it practically every day for school. I should probably started making another suit really.
No. 5 would be my dotty shirt-dress because it really developed my pattern adaptation skills as it was adapted from my bodice block to have a gathered front with a shaped waistband. I then added a V neck and a buttonband. It has been worn loads and I feel good in it. Next year I want to take my pattern drafting skills further and will maybe delve into coats. 
That's it for now folks! Thanks for reading and have a good Christmas if I don't post before!
Lauren xx

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Christmas Dress 2014

For this years Christmas dress I wanted to use a beautiful purple (I think cotton) velvet that my friends gave to me for my birthday. I had 1.5m which basically directed the design of the dress. I went for a strapless bodice, because it takes barely any fabric, with a half circle skirt which would give the fullness of a gathered skirt without the extra material needed. To make it special I added a little bow feature at the front.
The strapless bodice pattern is the same I used for my floral maxi dress, which made the whole process so much quicker because I knew it fit. I made sure I cut at all of the pieces so the nap was facing the right way. I slip-stitched the seam allowances on the velvet outer bodice down, because I didn't want to risk using an iron. The lining was the leftover rayon from my greek chiton purely because of the colour co-ordination. To make the rayon more stable I underlined it with quite a heavy calico. I then attached boning to the lining to give the bodice more structure.

The skirt is a half circle, with a seam at the centre front and back because that was the only way that if fit on the fabric. Hopefully the seam at the front isn't too noticeable! Ideally I would have made it a full circle for a little more volume, but a petticoat underneath does provide a certain amount of poof. The dress is fastened with an invisible zip down the center back, and the hem was overlocked and turned over once to preserve as much length as possible.
For the bow I used a rectangle of velvet which was sewn into the top seam at the front and back, not not the sides when joining the bodice and the lining. The part that wasn't attached in the seam I can slip my arms into to form little wings. I was going to elasticate the top so they would be level with the neckline but I don't know. I quite like the drapy-ness that's happening. The center was then ruched up to form a bow.

I'm really happy with how this dress turned out. It's miles better (both with the fit and finish) than last years Christmas dress. Now I need to figure out what I've got to do next year to better this one!

Thanks very much for reading and to Ed for taking the pictures!
Lauren xx

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Bright Floral Dress

In the last few months I've been applying to various universities to do a degree in costume production (the making side of things). Over the next couple of months I have to bring a portfolio to each uni for an interview. Obviously I needed a new dress. I went for perhaps one of the brightest fabrics I own (excepting the orange penguins, but I do want to be taken seriously at interviews) so I'll perhaps be easier to remember as the girl with the bright floral dress. 
I went for a simple fit and flare shape to show the amazing fabric off to it's best advantage. One of the uni's I visited is right next to Goldhawk Road so of course I dragged Dad over there and I bought 1.5 metres of this gorgeous wool blend.
 I used my block for the bodice and a pleated skirt from the simplicity 4070 dress pattern. I cut both the front and back bodice's on the fold so the dress is fastened with an invisible zip at the side seam. I wanted to line the bodice which I usually do because it takes care of the neckline and arm-scythes so nicely but I wasn't sure how to do it without a centre back seam. Luckily a quick google yielded this great tutorial and I had no problems.
 I'm so so happy with the way it fits and the length and everything, and I'm looking forward to wearing it to my interviews! (First one on wednesday, arrghhh!)
Thanks for reading, and to Ed for taking photos!
Lauren xx

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Grey Suit Part 3: The Dress

All parts of my suit are finally done! Yaay! I wanted the final part to be a dress with a full skirt so I could move around freely in drama lessons. I don't know whether you've tried doing drama or sitting cross legged on the floor wearing a pencil skirt, but I can tell you now that it doesn't work very well. 
The design of the dress was dictated entirely by how much, or rather how little fabric I had left after the blazer and the skirt. I was determined to have a reasonably full skirt so I went with a half circle. The bodice is princess seamed because the pattern pieces took up less space than my darted bodice block. It was a heavily altered vogue 2370 dress which I just cut off at the waist used for my robin hood costume here and stardust costume here.
 The center front did have to have a vertical and horizontal seam, as did the back. Everything was overlocked, and the arm and neck holes finished with bias binding. The hem was overlocked and turned over once and the dress is fastened with an invisible zip.
It'll be good to wear with tights and shirts underneath for the winter months and without for the summer months so hopefully it'll be a really versatile piece.
Thanks very much for reading and to Ed for taking pictures, JUST before it got too dark.
Lauren xx

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Deconstruction Fashion using mens shirts

 My latest textiles project was  to make a piece of clothing from pieces of existing clothing, known as deconstruction fashion. Aspects of the original garments should remain. To start, I removed all of the collars and cuffs from several old men’s shirts. The cuffs were set aside for later. I buttoned 2 contrasting collars together and placed them at the waist of the mannequin to form a waistband. They were overlapped at the back which formed interesting geometric shapes with the points of the collars. I placed another 2 collars underneath, making a waistband which unbuttons at the front consisting of 4 collars from different shirts.

 Next I ripped all of the shirt backs, from the shirt and sewed them together side seam to side seam. I kept the hems of the original shirts which gave varied shaped hem lengths. The long line of shirt backs was then gathered at the top and sewn to the collar waistband to form a skirt.
I took a left front and right front piece from contrasting shirts and buttoned them together, pinning them to the mannequin. The shoulder seams were gathered tightly to form straps, resulting in a V neck. Strips of fabric were braided together which formed straps at the back and also down the side of the bodice, giving a bit of detail to the ensemble.
I think the final garment looks wearable which is good if you want to sell your products. I am also glad that you can still see the origins of the shirt in the waistband of the skirt. The quality of stitching is not very good, and isn’t very stable which could be improved with a bigger timescale. The front bodice wrinkles as a result of poor fit, which maybe darts could improve. Overall I'm really happy with it. I felt like I was on project runway while making it and I had so much fun!

Thanks for reading and to Ed for the photos!
Lauren xx

Sunday, 23 November 2014

A Lace Francoise

A friend of mine is having a 20's inspired party for her birthday, and obviously I wanted to make a dress for it. It would be inspired by the 20's but with a bit more shape because that's how I like my dresses to fit. Cue Tilly's new sewing pattern Francoise. Although the party is in March (I know...) I wanted to get cracking on the dress now in time for the competition and Mum's birthday meal!
The original design was for a scallop hemmed overdress with a flounce sewn to the lining which would show underneath the overdress. This didn't quite work out so I had to go to plan B, as illustrated colourfully below.
I had lots of excess in the bust area of my first muslin, and the darts were too low down.
I unpicked the darts and moved them higher up and hey presto, it fit!
I choose to make my Francoise with a beautiful gold lace found in a vintage charity shop (5 pounds for about 2 metres) paired with a red underlining. Even though it's quite a simple dress to make, the time it took me to make it was doubled due to basting the lace together to the underlining to make sure nothing shifted around. Below you can see me starting off that process in costa before school with a hot chocolate with cream and marshmallows. Obviously by the time I got round to taking the pic, the cream and marshmallows were long gone.
I then sewed the dress together and scalloped the hem in accordance with the lace pattern, as seen in the pic below.
As seen in the design above, it didn't work with the flounce attached to the lining so I evened out the hem and attached the flounce to the outer layer instead. This, however made all the proportions wrong.
To fix this I took a chunk out of the seam where the dress hem and the flounce met and now it's just the right length!
Being a bit strapped for cash at the moment, I salvaged a burgandy invisible zip from a prom dress that we found in a charity shop a couple of years ago that never fit right.
This dress makes a nice change from my usual fit and flare silhouette. I can see more happening in the future.
Thank you very much for reading and to Ed for taking the pictures!
Lauren xx

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Dotty Shirtdress

I'm calling this dress a shirtdress even though it's collarless, so I'm not sure if it fully qualifies to enter Mary of Idle Fancy's Autumn of 1000 Shirtdresses but I'm joining in anyway!  The only reason why this dress became a button down dress was because I didn't have any matching zips, but I'm so glad that this was how it ended up.
This was what I had in mind for the dress, using the same self drafted pattern as the V&A dress, making it a V neck and adding room in the centre front for buttonholes. The fabric is a viscose I bought in Birmingham whilst there for a concert at one of the market stalls for a fantastic 2.50 per metre (I bought 2 metres). It was in Birmingham that I bumped into one of my readers for the first time!
I first traced the original pattern, then I changed the neckline to a V. I then added 1 cm which was the button width and 1.5cm seam allowance. I also did that for the front waistband piece. The back pieces I kept the same as they are cut on the fold.
For the facing I pinned together the front and back shoulder seams and traced the neckline curve, then I drew straight downwards for the length of the dress. Mine wasn't long enough, I think I added about 15cm on the end. I added seam allowance for the centre back.
Then I sewed it all up, treating the facing as you would a normal one. I added 2.5cm to the front skirt width. 
This dress has turned out quite loose compared to the first one which is interesting, probably down to using the lightweight fabric. 
The shaped waistband gets a bit lost in the print, so I'm wondering about doing some white top stitching to make it a bit more obvious. The armholes were neatened with bias binding and I top-stitched the facing down to make sure that it stays down. The waistband is lined like the last one.
Thanks for reading and to Ed for taking the pictures!
Lauren xx

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Grey Suit Part 2: The Blazer

 After a fair few issues my blazer is finally finished! I adapted the Deer and Doe Pavot jacket pattern for the third time, this time drafting a shawl collar and double breasted aspect to it. It was originally going to be mid-hip length and tied at the waist but that didn't work out so I cropped it instead.
As this was my first time drafting a shawl collar I did encounter some issues. There were drag lines at the collar as I hadn't allowed enough ease. To fix this I snipped into the collar until the drag lines were gone, so it isn't as wide as it was supposed to be!
The blazer closes with a magnetic snap, which you usually find on bags.
I've only just noticed when looking at the photos that the sleeves are having major issues which is sad. Next time I'll pay more attention when setting them in.  The rest of the back seems to fit alright.
I fully lined the blazer with some amazing floral silk in my stash. I did bag it, but one of the sleeves got twisted and the hem was wrong so they both got unpicked, sorted out and slip stitched back together meaning that only one of the sleeves is clean!The facing was also slip stitched in.
That's it for this week. Thank you Edward for taking the photos, and thanks for reading!
Lauren xx