Friday, 28 March 2014

'Frankly I'm disappointed with your presentation' dress

Mad men time! My peggy dress is complete. My inspiration is taken from Peggy's appearance in episode 2 of series 2. Peggy is at a party and getting pretty friendly with a man called Eugene. He asks Peggy to go back to his place to which she replies 'I'm in the persuasion business, and frankly I'm disappointed with your presentation'. She then walks out. Pretty impressive eh?

Anyway my main motivation for making this dress was the fabric. I just loved the floral print. This is not the dress I had planned. This is what I planned to make;

I'd picked the fabric, the pattern and everything. Then I saw this dress and my plans went out of the window!

I set on a mission to find the floral fabric. Let's say it took a little bit longer than I expected!! I daren't say how long. Fortunately I found what I was looking for in a UK online shop called 'always knitting and sewing'. It's a great shop and offers fast and cheap postage.

Anyway before I go into more detail this is my dress;

A close up of the fabric;
Not a perfect match but not bad.
The pattern I used was my new favourite the Christine Haynes 'Emery'. It's only the second dress pattern I own (after the By Hand London Anna) so not exactly spoilt for choice! I reckon its a pretty good pattern for this style of dress. I was nervous about using a vintage pattern as they have a reputation for being brief with instructions! The only changes I made (that haven't already been mentioned in the Sew Dolly Clackett dress) were to lengthen the sleeves and skirt and make the collar removeable. The bow I just made up myself. Both are just tacked on. I'm going to remove them both so I can wear the dress in real life. As I new to dressmaking I can't face making something I'll never wear!
A close up of Peggy's dress;
Here is a close up of the front of mine. 'm even holding a drink in a jam jar (sadly it's only water!)
I'm pretty happy with the end result and can see myself wearing it lots - minus the bow and collar. Should there be another mad men challenge I'm going to be more adventurous! Many thanks to Julia for hosting the challenge.


Monday, 24 March 2014

Sew Dolly Clackett dress

It's loud and it's proud! It's my finished Sew Dolly Clackett dress aka the 'hearts and daggers' dress. The fabric is called 'blue mother tattoo' and I bought it from Ditto fabrics ages ago. I love this fabric and I picked it because I have a slight obsession with skulls (I liked them before they can back into fashion honest!). When the fabric arrived I was overcome with fear of making anything with it and its sat in my fabric stash for months. Fortunately this sewing challenge came along and I knew I had to use it.

Keeping it classy at my home bar

The pattern is Emery by Christine Haynes. This seems to be a favourite with sewing bloggers at the mo. My only other experience of making a dress was using the By Hand London Anna dress - a beginner pattern. I was concerned that the Emery might be beyond me but I actually managed ok. I thought the instructions were really good. I did make a muslin of the bodice and had to make some alterations to the size 12 that I cut. These were; lengthening the bodice by 1.5cm, making the neck darts bigger, taking 1.5cm out of each side of the back bodice pieces, raising the bust darts by 1cm, and shortening the skirt a fair amount (I have stumpy legs).

I did leave out doing the pockets (I'll only end up putting tissues in them and then putting the dress in the wash)! I didn't go for the collar as i reckoned it would be a bit OTT. I've made it very fitted but it's still comfortable. I'm not sure a baggy bodice with a full skirt would be a good look!

The polka dot shoe bows are a little additional make to pimp my shoes. I got a whole stack of shoe clips on ebay for v cheap money. It's simple to make bows so now I can make loads in different colour ways. I wish I had lovely dainty feet and it would give me more choice with shoes. My wide feet make my shoe choices limited. The upside is that my flipper feet are handy for swimming :-)

The final touch- a little freemotion embroidered label!

Cheers Nic & Roisin on your wedding!

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Decoupage comic book bag

Well it's turns out that gluing and sticking is quite addictive. I started to look at what else I could make and was very tempted to make some decoupage shoes. Practicality got the better of me and I decided that they may not be suitable to wear in most places/weathers.  I settled on a decoupage bag instead.  I do love bags and have far too many according to my husband, although I'm not sure you can ever have too many.   I managed to find a retro style vinyl bag in a local charity shop.  I think it was £1.50.  I sanded it down a little to take off the shine and got sticking.  Admittedly it was a bit tricky with the bag's curves.  Some bits got a bit soggy in the process but I got there in the end.  The bag is still usable, although the pictures on the flap have some slight creasing.  I love this bag.  I've used it a fair bit and it makes me smile when I see it (I have it hanging up in my bedroom).  Success I reckon :-)

There are loads of mod podge projects on the web and its difficult not to be inspired.  My bag and bowl were both made for a few pounds each and didn't take much time at all.

Decoupage comic book bowl

Decoupage - the ancient art of sticking! What's not to love with messing about with bits of paper (or fabric) and glue? It takes me back to my school days and the fun we all had peeling PVA glue from our hands.  Anyway I was inspired by the fabulous things on the Bombus site and in particular this  bowl.  Isn't it amazing? Unfortunately I didn't have the £145 needed to buy it but I did have some old annuals in the loft and a bamboo bowl from Ikea.  Add in some mod podge and I was ready to go!
To be honest the hardest bit was choosing which scenes to cut out and then arranging them on the bowl.  Some of them overlap but the bowl is basically covered with one layer of pictures.  Each picture is stuck down with mod podge (matt one) and once it was all covered I gave it several layers of mod podge.  I suggest using a small sponge as you don't get brush marks.  I then gave it a very light coat of spray varnish (wilkinsons own brand matt spray varnish).  Here it is;

It's quite hard wearing as it lives on the coffee table and all sorts of bits of pieces get thrown into it! Total cost approx a fiver - bargain!!

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Taking on a sewing challenge or two!

Well, I think I might be a bit crazy but I've signed myself up for not one but two sewing challenges! I first saw the Mad Men dress challenge over on Julia Bobbins blog - a few months back and when this year's challenge came up I knew I had to go for it.  Some the previous entries are pretty impressive so I'm thinking up ideas and checking out fabric.  I might do something in Peggy's style but I just can't make up my mind.

No sooner than I signed myself up for the Mad Men challenge another one came my way courtesy of the Dolly Clackett blog - Roisins lovely friend Sarah, of Rhinestones and Telephones, has set up the 'Sew Dolly Clackett' challenge in celebration of Roisins marriage to her fiance Nic in May.  Its a fabulous idea and I really felt I should join in as I've been so inspired to start sewing clothes because of Roisins blog.  I do already have the perfect 'dolly esque' fabric which I've been avoiding sewing into anything as its a bit in yer face.  I might post a sneak peak of the fabric soon! I've got the Anna and Emery dress patterns so I'm deciding between the two or may do a mash up of the patterns.  I realise I need to actually get on and make at least one of the dresses ASAP as the clock is ticking!

Sunday, 23 February 2014

By Hand London Anna dress

Well this is my first dress and my first blog post! I've been considering sewing clothes for some time but have always thought it looked too complicated - until I saw the Anna dress pattern.  I went ahead and bought the pattern based on the fact; I liked the design, its a beginner pattern, and I'd seen some finished Anna's on the net.  I've got to say that I found it straightforward to make (!) and not really scary at all (which is a bit scary in itself to a pessimist like me).  However my first attempt was ok but the fit was crap. I did wear it to work and my colleagues seemed impressed but I think it was more of wow 'you made a dress' rather than wow 'that looks great on you'! Anyway after so more research I altered the pattern and made my second Anna.  Here it is;

 It seems to be a bit on the snug side since christmas but I think the fit is good.  Motivated by this modest success I went onto my third Anna and this time I mixed two patterns together! It was out of necessity really as I didn't have enough fabric.  I put the Anna top with a basic pencil skirt pattern which I found in one of my many sewing books, Sew Everything Workshop by Diana Rupp (a good book BTW).  I made a muslin of the skirt and went right ahead and made this dress;
You can tell by my expression (not) that I love this dress! The fabric a matt stretch satin by John Kaldor.  I found a remnant in a fabric shop in Leeds for £6.  It's a fantastic fabric to sew and very comfortable to wear, especially if you're having a big meal! I can even get the dress on without using the zip.  Shame I didn't work that out before inserting the zip though! I've worn this dress to two parties and it makes me feel great.  I've since gone on the make a fourth Anna, this time with sleeves following the By Hand London Anna sewalong.  I used a terrible fabric though which was a pain in the arse to sew with. I like the sleeves but probably prefer the sleeveless version.  I'd say its worth the time making sure the fit is good.  It did take me a while to work out how to alter the pattern but now I know I can use it again and again and (hopefully)get a good result!
The pattern has given me the confidence to think 'yeah I can make clothes that I actually like and actually fit me' and I'm well on my way to making my handmade wardrobe.