Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Top Draftalong # 1 - Preliminary Post

So here we are! Poised to embark on our very first Draftalong! There seemed to be enough interest when I first proposed this, to have a nice size group of us, hopefully drafting away together and sharing our knowledge and experiences!
The aim of this draftalong is to keep it simple and show that pattern drafting need not be intimidating. We'll be working together, through instructions as laid out in "Shirts, Blouses, and Tops" by Belinda Musgrave. The book takes a very simple and methodical approach so we should have fun with this!

The idea is to start with this....
...then at the end of this process we will all hopefully have a template,and the necessary knowhow, to create as many different blouses,shirts and tops as our imagination will allow. Tailored to fit our specific figures. Totally bespoke and unique to us.  Here are some exmples from the book...
I'm loving the whole nautical theme here!
Simplicity itself with cute details like seaming, buttons, pintucks and ruffles to add interest...
Secretary or sailor...hmmm..choices choices!
I planned on starting with taking some accurate body measurements, which is pretty vital for good pattern drafting. Then from there, scaling up and tracing off the basic shell pattern provided in the book. Then making an intitial toile/muslin from this, then altering this shell to fit and transferring these alterations to a create a bespoke basic shell pattern. Once we have that, we can then work through the process of creating different styles from this basic pattern. How does that sound?
 We are all of us, pretty busy with everyday life, so the pace of this draftalong will be pretty leisurely. How does several weeks sound?! There is no rush, after all! We can take the process little by little, one step at a time so no-one gets discouraged or intimidated by feeling they have to catch up. I for one, would like to spend some time getting this as close to perfect as possible, since well fitting tops are a real issue for me and account for a massive gap in my wardrobe! My figure "quirks" are apparently many!

I have a good idea on the format each post will most likely follow. (At the moment the plan is to have PDF's for each post so you can print off things like instructions and scale patterns at each stage. If I can figure out the process! There'll be text & scanned images directly from the book supported by text and images from me and my understanding of the process ) But I wanted to use this post as an opportunity to gain your feedback on the overall idea, how it's taking shape and the rough plan detailed above. Is there anything in particular that freaks you out about drafting? Is there anything you specifically want to cover in more detail during the draftalong? We're right at the conceptual stage at the moment, so now is your chance to influence the final shape of it. Think of it this way: If you were planning this draftalong, what would you include??? So please feel free to use the comments section for any ideas, requests, suggestions etc AND, equally importantly, if you're interested, to SIGN UP!   I'll post a more structured schedule once I've taken on board your feedback and ideas...:)
Pxxx

PS: Images taken from the book will be much better during the draftalong I promise. Scanner has died so had to photograph these ones, but will have that rectified very shortly...Px

Ah, hello!!!

Erm, I've been a bit crap with blog posts the last few days! I have several lined up (drafted and almost ready to post) but a day trip to Germany (more on that later) and the lead up and aftermath of that, has left me a little short on time! So I thought for now, I'd quickly just share a couple of little finds that have made it into my keeping recently..

Nabbed this from Erica before she had a chance to Ebay it when I saw it blogged here...
This adorable little chap was £1 at my local charity shop and now keeps me company at my sewing table in the summer house. I just loved his colours and I've got a bit of a thing for owls...
 I've nearly finished the preliminary post for the Draftalong (Excited! This is gonna be fun!) plus I have loads more thrifty finds, a shop update, some Briar Rose bits and photos from Germany...phew! College tomorrow as well. LT is napping at the moment but not for much longer methinks.....!
Pxxx





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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Restyle # 10 - Smudgy Roses

Finally I've finished this restyle!! It was all going swimmingly until I got to the collar...Why I thought it would be easy I don't know. I've never made anything with a collar before,let alone draft my own. But being the eternal optomist that I am (most of the time) I gave it my best shot and this is what happened (eventually!!)...
 There are elements of this dress that I am really really pleased with. I really like the way the fabric works with the new design. I think the contrasting collar and bias binding really work well with the print...
I prefer the new buttons...
This hemming tape around the inside of the collar hides a multitude of sewing sins. But check out my hand stitching! Now that I am pleased with...
The collar needs some fine tuning but considering it's my first, and it's self drafted, not too shabby really...I used the piece of existing collar that I had removed to trace the correct curve for the neckline then  played around with the shape of the outer curve and added seam allowances...
I played around with drafting different sized collars, trying them out to see which looked best....
There are lots of elements that are a bit of a bodge up as well. But I'll spare you those for the moment because I don't want to be negative at all about this restyle. I actually feel really happy with it.  Anything that didn't go perfectly this time, well, I'll just make sure it goes better next time. As to whether I'll actually wear this out (I spent half the day in it at home! It's so comfy)..it fits..it looks ok...it does feel a little bit girly for me...but for the right occasion, hell, why not!!

I learnt a heck of a lot from this particular project and will be able to use elements of this dress as evidence for the qualification I am taking at college. I shall definately be using the hand finished hemming tape on future project as it's satisfying to do and provided a really nice finish. Something that I'm keen to improve on in my sewing. I shall also be on the lookout for more two pieces to turn into dresses.  :)


Colette Palette Challenge # 4 - Yep, late again!

I have been remiss in making absolutely no progress at all on sewing my Colette Palette items. Then a couple of days ago, a step in the right direction arrived in the mail...

I bought this from Sunni's Etsy shop (aka The Cupcake Goddess). I love buying things from Etsy as they always come wrapped with nice little touches. (Thanks Sunni!) Incidentally, Sunni is hosting a pretty amazing giveaway on her blog. If you haven't seen it already, pop over and take a peek...

Anyway, I plan to adapt these trousers with a slightly experimental pattern alteration.  I am clearly not a size 10, but I have a plan! These trousers are almost exactly what I wanted except they are several (ahem) inches too small at the waist for me and truthfully a wee bit tooooo flared even for a 70's child like me. (oops, giving away my oldness there!)

I figure, if I slash straight down each pattern piece (sounds vicious I know) I can open up some room at the waist whilst simultaneously closing off some of the flare at the bottom. Does that make sense? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

To me, the pattern pieces are pretty simplistic and I've sat and scratched my head and can't see any obvious pitfalls to this particular idea. Can you?? As long as I take account of darts etc....I'm prone to over simplifying things in my head and can sometimes get caught out. So any feedback from those more sensible than myself would be greatly appreciated....
Anyhow, I have loads of stuff coming up over the next 48 hrs or so. Including photos of this restyle, finished (yes Abi, finally)!! More thrifty finds, new stuff being added to the shop and...(I'm very excited) the first post related to the "Draftalong" mentioned here. There was a decent amount of interest, so I've decided "what the heck" and I'm going ahead with it. Yay! (Aaargh!)
Hope you and yours are well and happy :)
Pxxx

Monday, March 21, 2011

Me Made March - Week 3 Round up

This week has been a bit hit and miss on the photography front. As mentioned, LT was sick this week and then hurrah, I caught it too. So putting my face on and facing the camera dropped down my list of priorities on some days. I think my fellow MMM participants would understand!
Sorry for the grumpy face in the first photo!! Refashioned skirts in the first 2 photos and a refashioned tunic in the last one. (I am in love with those trousers. They're from Ghost and cost me £7 last weekend in a Windsor charity shop. I know! Ghost! They are ridiculously comfy and go really well with my leather and canvas brogues, which I also LOVE but don't go with an awful lot!) On the "absent" days I did indeed throw on some refashioned garments, but trust me, you would not have wanted to be subjected to photos of me on those days! ;)

In other news, at least Elliott is feeling better! It's funny, but when he's been ill he seems to go right to the opposite end of the "hyper" spectrum as soon as he's feeling better. It's like he has this uncontainable joy at feeling better and has to express it by galloping around the house at full speed all day, just because he can again...
 He's become somewhat obsessed with puzzles and we ended up doing all of his puzzles one after another the other day until they practically covered the whole of the lounge floor. You can really tell in the second photo that he's been really poorly, from the shadows under his eyes, poor thing! He decided that he should cover himself and his nappy in the stickers from his CBeebies magazine. Fetching huh? (As long as those don't translate to the same number of tattoos when he's older!) That last picture just really made me giggle. He's got a thing for keys and keyholes and sticking stuff in them. It just looks like Iggle Piggle is absailing down our door...

Want to have a giggle?

A few weeks back I read a rather amusing blog post from Karen at Did You Make That. I left her a wee comment in which I made a suggestion. It seems she was quite taken with the idea and so was born a new feature on Karen's blog....
...and guess who was her first victim participant...? Be warned  though, it may give you nightmares. You can find it here...(if you dare look ;)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Briar Rose Knitalong # 2 - Better late than never!

Ok, so I should have been at this stage a couple of weeks back. I am officially rubbish! For the record, my timekeeping has always been awful (nay, diabolical!). I'm one of those people that will always be a few minutes late for everything. The weird thing is, I'm a relatively organised person (occasionally obsessively so. Control issues?? Probably!). But somehow, those last moments before I have to leave just run away from me. I'm a serial underestimator in how long things actually take and don't always factor in time for the inevitable little hiccups that happen along the way. To put it another way, I always think things are going to be easier/quicker than they actually are and tend not to anticipate encountering any problems. That sounds suspiciously like a positve attitude OR total naivety. Depending on your outlook!! I prefer the first excuse explanation.

Actually, one of the things holding me back with this project is the spectre or resizing the pattern. I have been avoiding it totally. Considering the only wearable thing I've ever knitted was a beanie hat, I've decided I'm challenging myself enough already with Briar Rose, without playing around with style and size variations. My head just isn't in that place yet with knitting. So I decided to stick to the pattern religiously and see how it turns out. I know it won't fit me, but I don't mind that. I just want to learn from the process really. And if I end up with a wearable garment at the end, (it's certainly not a forgone conclusion)I'm sure I'll find a willing recipient somewhere!

I ought to get to the point really ie Where exactly AM I in the process? I knitted my first ever gauge swatch. That's where. I've never done it before, which is probably one aspect of why all my knitting projects have been less than impressive in the past. But I've been "guilted" into it this time by Tasha and her consistently comprehensive posts for this knitalong. She's clearly a stickler for detail and if she says it's vital, then it's vital. End of! So I followed her instructions for gauge swatches faithfully...
I found a batch of this yarn whilst out thrifting some weeks back. I really like the texture of it (must be the silk/cotton blend) and it knits up nicely too. I don't think I'll have quite enough so will need to supplement it with another colour/yarn. I'm thinking I may knit the details (collar, placket and pocket) in a contrast colour. Maybe a navy and go for a nautical feel with some sailor buttons. What do you think? Any advice/suggestions gratefully received! Are you doing this knitalong?
I shall hopefully be casting on tonight and should have something worthwhile for the Flickr group in a few days.  I'm really excited (I have no idea what I'm doing though, lol!) now that I've let myself off the resizing. This will be my first ever knitted garment. Wish me luck, this should be interesting!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Thrifty Finds # 21 - Berkshire Bootie Part I


 My recent weekend in beautiful Berkshire resulted in some pretty great thrifting. Not least a handful of cuties to bolster my recently purged wardrobe...


1st Row - Sailor Slacks, Vintage Chiffon Blouse,  Cotton Eyelet Blouse
2nd Row - Polka Dot chiffon blouse, Vintage Crochet Lace top, Banana Republic Silk Cardigan
All cost from £3-£7

More to follow....;)



Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Sneak Peek....

I'm making slow progress with sewing this week. (LT has a bug, my poor little baby so am tied up giving cuddles and juice) but I'm quite excited about how one particular refashion (mentioned here) is shaping up so thought I'd share a sneak peek...
 Since this photo was taken I've put in bust darts, taken in the side seams, attached the skirt and applied contrasting black bias binding to finish the armholes. All that remains really is to finish the neckline for which I have a cunning plan. If I can only pull it off...fingers crossed  ;)

Sewing Basics # 8 - Moving a dart

Following on from my post a couple of weeks back, finally, as promised, here are the step by step photos for this particular technique for moving a dart. (Where HAS the past fortnight gone?!!) Gertie has also recently posted a tutorial on this subject, using a slightly different approach. So be sure to check out her tutorial here too. 
I wanted to move this dart from the armhole because it was disrupting the shape of the armhole and although I could have rectified this without moving the dart, it was also pointing at a less than flattering angle. Bust darts especially, tend to look best pointing at an upwards angle towards the bust point (nipple to you and me!) as this gives a more "perky" look. (Hey, I need all the help I can get in that department since the Little Tornado!). So I opted for a French dart. One that points upwards towards the bust point, from the side seam.

It might be helpful to start with a quick run down of the "anatomy" of a dart...
1. These are the dart "legs"
2. The "fold line" that runs along the centre of the dart from the bust point to the base
3. The base of the dart - the width of this dictates how much contour/shaping the dart will provide
4. The "Dart Point"
5. The "Bust Point" This is the apex of the bust (aka the pointiest part!)

Note: The dart point and bust point should be between 1.5-2" apart in order to avoid the pointy bust look. So the finished dart will stop 1.5-2" before the pointiest part of the bust to create a more gentle contour

1. To start with I drew a new fold line starting from the bust point and finishing at the position and angle that I wanted the new dart to be.  
Note: (To establish where the bust point is if it's not marked on your pattern, mark and extend the fold line through the centre of the original dart and beyond the dart point. Mark a point on this line approx 1.5-2" past the dart point. If need be, hold the pattern piece up against yourself to double check the position)

2. Then cut along the new fold line. Up to, but not through, the bust point. Essentially the bust point becomes a pivot point in the next stage, so you want it intact.
3. Pinch a fold from the base of the lowest dart leg to the bust point.  Then fold this creased edge over to meet the other side of the dart base, folding along the original fold line down the centre of the dart. So the dart legs meet at the base of the dart...
4. As you fold the original dart closed (stick it down), a new one will open up where you have cut along the new fold line...
Tip: Use masking tape instead of sellotape. Masking tape doesn't melt if you need to iron over your pattern piece later on
5. Insert a strip of pattern paper underneath where the new dart has opened up and glue/tape in place...
6. The old dart should now be closed and taped down and the new dart opened up and backed with a strip of paper like so...
7. Mark a new dart  point approx 1.5-2" away from the bust point down the centre of the new dart opening...
Note: I guessed, by eye, where the centre of the new dart opening was. To calculate it accurately mark the midpoint of the new dart opening at the base. Draw a line from this point, to the bust point.
8. Draw in the new dart by joining the base points either side of the new dart opening, with the new dart  point...
9. Now fold the new dart closed in the same way as you did the original dart. You can see how the original side seams line up and you can also just about make out the 3D contour that is forming in the pattern piece with the dart closed...
10. Then trim of the excess pattern paper used to back the dart, following the line of the side of the pattern piece...
11. When you open the pattern piece back out you should be left with a recognisable dart shape...
The fiddliest part of this, I found, is folding out the darts out of the pattern paper without tearing it. I swore a bit!
My next task is to redraw the now distorted armhole & neckline and try to check/balance both of those against the back pattern piece before cutting my next muslin and checking the fit again...

Anyway, hope that made some sense!

Pxxx

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Weekend in Windsor (well, Slough!)...

When J told me we were going to Windsor for the weekend I had visions of a quaint B&B with views of one of the numerous local racecourses or indeed the river. Turns out we were booked in at the Holiday Inn Express, backing onto the train station, close to central Slough (home of Ricky Gervais' "The Office") which is about 10 minutes from Windsor. The view from our window was, erm, panoramic(!) For anyone not familiar with Windsor or Slough, the two placescouldn't be more different. Windsor is steeped in history and pretty upmarket. Slough is a modern concrete jungle of office blocks and industrial estates. But at least I got to use my American Tourister vanity!! Yay! IT is now officially justified!
Since J was working during the daytime I had the car to myself . So I drove to Windsor on Friday for some thrifting (charity shops were expensive but some high end stuff to be had. More on that later in the week!). On Saturday Idrove about 40 mins upthe M4 to Newbury to see my Dad's wife. It's been 18 months since he died and she and I finally sorted through his wardrobe. 12 bin bags of clothes/belongings later, I think we both felt a little emotional and alot lighter. We gota little thrifting in as well. Newbury's a lovely little town with a river running through it and it was a thoroughly beautiful spring day that just flew by.
Sunday I checked out of the hotel just before lunch and drove back into Windsor for a couple of hours to kill some time and took a few photos...



One teeny corner of  Windsor Castle
This gives a sense of the overall feel of the place...
Windsor Castle is huge. You can see it extending way into the background...
A low key shop window (!) and so the build up begins...
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