Monday, 16 November 2015

Freehand Fashion: Asymmetrical peplum jacket

Hello all! I'm really excited to be part of the blog tour for Chinelo's new book: Freehand Fashion. It's primary purpose is to show sewers how to draft things straight onto fabric without using a pattern. It was a very interesting technique for me to try and to compare to the flat pattern drafting and draping on the stand that I've learnt at uni in the last month or so.
Basic sewing techniques feature at the beginning, followed by a handy measurements table that you can write your measurements into. I found the diagrams really useful to show me where each measurement should be measured from which made them as accurate as possible. I recommend double checking them, because if they aren't accurate your finished garment will not fit as well.
There are 15 projects in the book of various difficulties using either the bodice block, dress block, flare block or sleeve block as a base. I chose to make the asymmetrical peplum jacket as I was in the market for a new coat as it's getting colder. Fabric needs are noted separately for each pattern piece which makes it a bit of a faff to work out how much you need in total. Although if you were planning colour-blocking it's really useful. I guessed 2.5m and I used about 1m less than that, though I did reduce the flare in the peplum.
And here is my finished jacket! It is somewhat inspired by Diors famous 'new look' although I couldn't quite achieve the corseted silhouette which makes his design look so sharp. I purposefully took out most of the flare, making it 1/4 circle instead of the full circle, my reasoning being that it would be more wearable with fuller skirts. I kept it symmetical but now I look at the pictures, I think it would look really good if it was asymmetrical. I do think it needed a little more fullness for it to sit better around the hips.
The instructions for the jacket tell you which steps of the bodice block are relevant for this project. The sleeve block and the flare block were also used. I did all the drafting on paper so if there were any adjustments needed they would be easier to apply to the outer fabric (I used the lining as a mock up). I did have to recut the sleeves because I got the measurements completely wrong.
Fitting wise, there is some excess fabric at the back armhole and the shoulders are too wide but I'm really pleased with the fit of the front bodice especially. Although more ease would need to be added if I wanted to wear more than one layer under it.
I love the massive collar,, although it would be interesting to see whether it would behave differently if cut on the bias. 
Finishing wise the jacket is fully lined in a contrasting black lining. I lugged my sewing machine home for the weekend (I had to go back to get my braces tightened, joy of joys) and only realised when I got there that the cable was sitting on my desk in my uni room! So I had to construct the outer of my jacket using the overlocker and sew the hem and armholes by hand because I then ran out of overlocker thread. I used poppers to fasten the jacket for a more streamlined look. There is a running stitch down each side of the lining which it needed to keep it from peeking out.
All in all, it was really interesting to try a new way of drafting patterns. It's definitely quicker to do than the flat pattern drafting method I've been taught. I think it may be more straightforward to follow if you have no drafting experience because I kept second guessing the instructions, and actually if you just follow them, surprise surprise, it works!
I have a copy of Freehand Fashion to give away! (UK only) Just comment below and make sure that your email address is easy for me to find.
These are the other people taking part in the blog tour:
Some have already blogged about their creations and some will be blogging them this week.
Thursday 12th November
English Girl at Home
Friday 13th November
Saturday 14th November
A Stitching Odyssey
Sunday 15th November

Monday 16th November
Lady Sew a Lot    (Me)
Tuesday 17th November
Wednesday 18th November
House of Pinheiro

Thanks for reading, to Pavilion Crafts for asking me to review the book and to Ed for taking photos!
Lauren xx

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Floral Button-down skirt

Hello all! This was one of those fabrics where I couldn't make up my mind what it was going to be. It was originally going to be a shirt, then a top with buttons at the shoulders, then a culotte playsuit. In the end I decided on a gathered button down skirt. I’ve made many things in the last couple of years, but a gathered button down skirt isn’t one of them! I managed to muddle along okay though.
I used the Deer and Doe Chardon skirt front for the basic skirt pieces and gathered them instead of pleating them. The skirt pieces aren’t too wide so the gathered effect is more subtle. The back was cut on the fold and the front had 3cm added on for the placket. The waistband is a basic rectangle. It’s the first time I’ve not had a bodice to gather the skirt to, so it was a bit of a trial and error to get the skirt to fit properly at the waist. After a bit of unpicking and re-measuring I was back on the right track.
The fabric is a really soft cotton poplin that drapes beautifully. It’s really easy to work with and finger presses really well, which is great because the iron lives 5 floors below my flat! I think the print is really versatile and can be worn all year round, with jumpers, tights and boots or a t-shirt and sandals.
There is a definite right and wrong side which I had to remember when making the plackets. I was pleasantly surprised at how nicely the buttonholes went in. Interfacing gave the plackets and waistband just a tad more stability. The buttons were spaced 2 1/2 inches apart. 

 For a clean a finish as possible I french seamed the side seams and slip-stitched the waistband and hem into place. I learnt at uni the other day that when I thought was slip-stitching I was actually whip-stitching! But this waistband was properly slip-stitched now I know how. The hem was turned up 2 1/2 inches to give it a nice weight to hang properly. 

Thanks so much to Minerva Crafts for providing all of the materials for this skirt and to Joanna Walton for taking such beautiful pictures.
Lauren xx

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Simple Knit Dress

Hello all! Today my face grins out of your screen from a beautiful part of the Cambridge Univeristy campus. In this past week I've had a reading week and I went to visit my friend Meghan who studies maths there, and she kindly took some pictures of my dress for me.

I wanted to try a more fitted silhouette, which I don't usually go for but I do quite like it and it is very easy to wear. There is a bit of wrinkling in the back, so I might add a pair of fish eye darts in the back so it sits smoothly.
Pattern-wise this dress is a real mashup. The top half is copied from a ready-to-wear top, the kimono sleeves are from By Hand London's Zeena dress pattern and the skirt is from a pencil skirt pattern, all blended together.
I have fabric for at least one more of these dresses and I'm on the look out for more! The fabric I used this time was a cotton jersey, which did okay but I think a thicker knit like ponte would be even better.
Thanks for reading and to Meghan for indulging me in a blog photo session.
Lauren xx