Liberty in fashion – fashion and textiles museums London

Liberty in fashion – fashion and textiles museums London

Today I went on a little trip to the fabulous fashion and textiles museum (Zandra Rhodes’ baby) in Bermondsey, London. 

I love this museum. It’s pink and orange on the outside for starters!

  

 It’s small but perfectly formed and always has interesting exhibitions as well as a gorgeous little shop. They also have a great eductional programme, I’ve done excellent photoshop and marketing courses here and would love to also do the 3 day Illustrator course they offer. One day. 

Today I went to see the Liberty in fashion exhibition. Fascinating and colourful and well worth a visit. 

                          
    
After I went to Islington and did some serious salivating and shopping in Loop yarns and Ray Stitch

                        
    
    
    
    
 

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Sewing jeans: Ginger jeans pattern

Sewing jeans: Ginger jeans pattern

Along with making bras making jeans has been on my to sew list since last autumn. I bought two patterns and enrolled on a Craftsy class and bought denim and then ran out of making time.     

I finally made a pair of jeans a few months ago by butchering the pattern that was written by Angela Wolf who ran the Craftsy class. Her pattern was for a low rise bootcut whereas I wanted a higher rise skinny pair so I took in the legs and added height to the rise. It worked pretty well and fit but the denim I had used was horrible and the zip broke when I tried it on so I left them to languish in the must-sort-one-day pile. I wasn’t entirely happy with the fit, the pockets at the front pulled open where my belly was pushing the fabric out and despite anchoring the corners to the denim I wanted a better fitting pattern. 

   
 I had heard many good things of the Ginger jeans from Closet Case Files (closetcasefile) and last week I set about taping the pattern together and making a pair of jeans. The denim was a nice sturdy dark blue and I used a gorgeous yellow top stitching thread. I read the sew along as well as the instructions and found a very clever way to fix the pulling problem I had found before in the sew along. The inner pocket and facing are extended to make an internal panel to provide support for the front of the jeans and keep unruly bellies in check. Ingenious! 

  
I used my new to me Pfaff 1475 which coped admirably all the way apart from when it suddenly lost its timing on the very last row of stitching. Top stitching is quite heavy on machines, it’s hard to keep the thread from knotting badly underneath and hard to keep an even tension. My machine, being electronic, when faced with a large knot which stopped the needle carried the motion of the bobbin on and hey presto the timing was kaput. It was too delicate a thing to fix myself so off to the shop she went. Luckily I still have an ancient Bernina 700 and used her to finish the jeans off and make another pair straightway!

  
So. The fit is perfect, second time around it only took me about 4 hours and I’m a happy bunny indeed! Even really splashing out on denim and needles and thread you can make yourself a pair for about £35 and being able to doctor the fit exactly is priceless.

So fitting wise I did what I always have to do. I have no discernible waist so had to start with a waist size 15, grading down to a size 12/11 on the legs. As long as you make the line connecting the sizes nice and smooth you can easily go between sizes. I also made the crotch curve at the front and bit deeper and this took out a lot of the extra fabric I had previously had when doing the first fit. 

Once I make my own knickers and knit socks a bit faster I can be totally self sufficient! So cool. 

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Autumn sewing plans

Autumn sewing plans

I’ve just bought myself some new patterns. I subscribe to Sew Direct which gives me a magazine full of the latest big name patterns as well as great articles on tailoring, fabrics, threads, pattern cutting etc. Some of the patterns are pretty vile, some very boring and almost all are made of fabrics I wouldn’t touch with a barge pole. But armed with funky £2/m fabric from Walthamstow market you can’t go wrong especially as you get a big discount on the patterns as a member. 

So here’s what I’ve bought. 

   
    
 I quite often buy patterns that then get lost in my stash of patterns so I aim to keep these aside so I’ll actually make them. Good luck with that as that’s what I always say. I buy patterns, printed and PDFs, and they just languish… But this time I have you guys to prod me!

Nice patterns huh? Quite a few interesting shapes out there at the moment. Dresses and tops with crazy hems and big pockets. What’s not to like?!

It’s Selfish Sewing Week in a couple of weeks I believe so that should be perfect for me. 

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Adventures in dress making – the Gertie bombshell dress

Adventures in dress making – the Gertie bombshell dress

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One of the very first Craftsy classes I ever joined was the Bombshell dress making class by Gertie. She wasn’t as big a name then as she is now, none of her books had been published then and initially she still interacted with the class as she was supposed to as a tutor with Craftsy. I loved the look of the dress, with a fitted, boned bodice and I loved the idea of all the new techniques I would learn.

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Alas my life became hectic just like Gertie’s did and I didn’t get very far then, four and a half years ago. I got as far as ordering thee boning and attempting to make the fitted bodice but it all ended up in a box, tempting me on occasion and mocking me at others.

With a wedding in Barcelona to attend I wanted to make a cool looking dress and decided to restart the class. This time I sped through it all and found having been making and fitting my own bras for a good 8 months stood me in good stead for fitting the bodice. Or so I thought.
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I kept googling other bombshell dresses and kept looking at how the dress fitted Gertie. Something wasn’t right with the cups, I thought it would work itself out in my much bigger cupsize, and I put my doubts about the odd elliptical look of the cups down to Gertie’s much smaller chest. I mean, the muslin still looked a bit like that on me but I thought with padding and proper stitching it would all look ok. I had a lot of gorgeous cream and red cherry print fabric at my disposal and about a week to do all the hand stitching, padding out and adapting a 3/4 circle skirt to fit.

IMG_1408Well. I learned a huge amount. I went lots of couture techniques such as working with just the pattern pieces without any seam allowances, using contrasting stitching to mark the stitch lines. What a lovely way to work. I learned more still about the size and shape of my own boobs. I learned all about cutting steel spiral boning (with blunt cheap cutters this was no joke!) and using quilting wadding to pad out the bodice. I learned to use a synthetic horsehair braid to hem the skirt with, making for a hen that stood out and accentuates the 3/4 circle. The skirt went in like a dream and the dress felt amazing on. But what had looked merely slightly off when the bodice had just one layer of fabric looked heinous by the time it had a lining and padding. Elliptical boobs rather than nice round ones. Major fail.

By this time it was 11pm the day before we flew out to Barcelona for my old friend Steve’s wedding to the lovely Sabrina and I didn’t have time to make another bodice. So the dress was left behind, I attended the wedding in a doctored (in the cab on the way to the wedding!) dress from Sainsburys and put it all down to experience.

The class has been retired by Craftsy as not long after I joined Gertie’s first book was published and she barely interacted with her students anymore. The good thing about Craftsy has always been the tutor-student interaction, you can ask questions and get answers, talk about problems you’ve encountered and share your progress. Not so in this class and for a while it became a student led class, with people helping each other out. I’ve definitely been helped a lot by the other people on the course and will go back and ask for advice when I come home. But I understand why the class was taken off the schedule as it did not measure up to Craftsy’s very high standards   Still, I’m glad I did the class and even if I never get a functioning dress out of it I still think it was fantastic value for money. But fingers crossed I will finish it and when I do I will post the pictures up here!

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cheeky handmades