Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Refashions: Silk Peplum Top & Skinnified Jeans

Just recently I've been returning to my refashioning roots. I picked up the outfit on the left for the grand total of £5.98 from a charity shop. A simple oversized black silk shirt, and some kinda frumpy jeans in a lovely berry purple colour. After I'd gone at them with some scissors and a sewing machine, I was left with the outfit you see on the right. I'm pleased with how striking the difference between the two outfits is. That's really what I wanted to show. How different frumpy charity shop finds can be with a few tweaks; and I think I've achieved that here. Although I'm not sure how much I'll wear the top in reality. It was an idea I wanted to try out, and I really like how it turned out. I'm just not convinced it's "me". Know what I mean?

 It all turned out pretty much as I had envisioned it; apart from the top having no sleeves. I had planned some slim elbow length sleeves. But the peplum section needed much more fabric than I had first thought. So I ended up using every useable scrap of fabric on that and had nothing left for the sleeves. (Actually, I think technically it's a "ruffle" disguised as a peplum! Aren't peplums cut as circular pieces?)

This top involved completely deconstructing the original shirt, re cutting the pieces and reconstructing it into it's new form. Excluding finishing techniques the main points are essentially as follows:

1) I cut off the sleeves and collar close to the seams.
2) I lopped (technical term that!) off the bottom section of the shirt at waist height, and set aside for later
3) Then seperated the front and back pieces, and recut the necklines and armholes
4) Sewed the whole thing back to front to create a button back bodice section, and made it much more fitted.
5) I created a long loop of fabric using fabric from the bottom section I'd lopped off earlier, and what I could harvest from the sleeves.
6) Gathered the loop of fabric and stitched to the waistline of the new bodice

The jeans were skinnified in my usual way, and I've worn them lots already. I am a fan of purple, it has to be said. Always puts me in mind of that fabulous poem  You know the one I mean...about wearing purple... ;)

Monday, November 26, 2012

Adding a Simple Cuff to a Sleeve....

Firstly some apologies. This post was meant to go out over a week ago. But here at home we seem to have been visited by every bug going. The winter vomiting bug, flu and chest infections. All of which has meant a few weeks of broken sleep culminating in feeling like we've been hit by a train. I finally conceded defeat last week and got some antibiotics from the doctor. So apologies for the delay in posting this.
Secondly the quality of these photos isn't great. The only windows in my summerhouse are north facing. So even in the summer natural light is at a premium. At this time of year? Well the graininess of these photos says it all! In addition to all that, there have been some developments on the TV front that have taken up some of my time. (More on that in another post!)
Anyhow, back to the business in hand! Simple and cute little turn up cuffs and how easy it is to do them. I used them on this refashioned top recently. It's a technique that could be applied to an existing garment or one that you make from scratch; and is a neat little way of adding a bit of detail to a plain garment...

1. Begin by measuring the circumference of your sleeve. You can measure all the way round OR, if your sleeve is the same size front and back (as mine is), laid flat, measure seam to seam and then double the measurement. Then decide how wide you want your cuff to be.
2. Make a simple rectangular pattern piece as follows: Length =  Sleeve circumference + seam allowance on both sides. Width = Desired width of cuff x 2 + seam allowance on both edges.
3. Pin to fabric and cut out.
4. You'll need 2 obviously!

5. Right sides together, sew the ends together to form a loop. Press seam allowances open, then trim excess seam allowance.
6. Fold in half along the length, wrong sides together and lining up the raw edges. Press.

7. With the garment inside out and lining up the seam of your cuff with the underarm seam of your sleeve; pin the raw edge of the cuff to the raw edge of your sleeve.
8. Stitch cuff to sleeve according to your seam allowance.
9. Turn cuff through to the right side of your garment and press. Understitch seam allowance to sleeve. Trim excess seam allowance away.
10. I used a zig zag stitch to understitch my seam allowance. Understitching and finishing off my raw edges in one go. Then "anchor" the cuff in place with a couple of strategic slip stitches. I place a couple of stitches on the underarm seam; and used a button to anchor the cuff in place on the top side.

If you are drafting your cuff pattern from an actual tissue pattern (as opposed to adding them to an existing garment) then simply measure the width of the front and back sleeve pieces and add these measurements together to get the length of your cuff pattern piece. No need to add seam allowance either side of the length, as this will have already been included in the measurements you took from your existing pattern. So there you have it. Simple and cute turn up cuffs. Easy peasy!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Refashion: Dress to Cuffed Kimono Tee

This past couple of weeks has been manic what with one thing and another. I haven't been getting much sewing done at all. So this week I eased back into my sewing groove with a quick and simple refashion.

This dress has been in my refashion pile for eons. Like, 2 years! It was made from a beautiful aubergine shade of purple in a drapey brushed cotton. When deciding on items to refashion, I tend to look past the garment itself to the quality and quantity of fabric that there is to work with. This dress had an ankle length gathered skirt with no darts or such like. So once I had removed the skirt from the bodice, and removed the button placket down the centre, I was left with a really good amount of fabric to work with. One large rectangle from the back of the skirt; and 2 smaller rectangles harvested from the front skirt, cut from either side of the button placket. Out came my trusty kimono tee pattern, and a few minor pattern adjustments later, voila...

After lengthening the pattern slightly and reshaping the hem; I cut the front piece in one from the larger rectangle; then the back piece in two parts from the smaller rectangles. I simply added a CB seam allowance to my pattern, so the "new" top has a centre back seam.
The hem of this top is a "high/low" affair. Scooping down at the back and up at the front. The finished tee was a little plain even for my simple tastes! So I used some leftover scraps to add some little cuffs to the sleeves, finished off with buttons harvested from the original dress. Such a simple thing to do it turns out; (and a quick how to on that to follow later this week) but I think it really finishes this tee off nicely!
Pleased as punch with this one. So comfy to wear and I do love a bit of aubergine (eggplant to those of you across the pond!) Actually I can't stand aubergine to eat. Bleurgh! But the colour officially rocks!

BTW, my photos, until we get some decent natural light, (in the UK in the winter? Fat chance!) are gonna be fuzzy and pretty crap. Just warnin' ya!

Monday, November 05, 2012

Archive Footage....

My "Are Television Executives Missing a Trick?" post, garnered some great debate and comments. It also made it's way onto The Sewing Forum where there were yet more interesting comments. One in particular caught my eye. It pointed the way to some fascinating BBC archive footage. A series of programmes first broadcast in 1957 exploring the changing face of fashion from as early as the 18th century right up to what was then, the modern day. 1957! Citing broad ranging influences from art, architecture and interiors; social, political, cultural, historical and economic factors. In fact everything that still has an impact on the styles of today. Perhaps the only real difference between the way fashion evolves, between then and now, is the speed at which new styles come and go; the fundamentals of fashion evolution and what influences it, seem to have remained the same....

Presented by fashion historian Doris Langley Moore (a fascinating lady in her own right) this series of  6 short programmes is a fabulous delve into the past, and I thoroughly recommend you grab yourself a coffee and dive in!  Mrs Langley Moore has the most delicious of BBC plummy accents. I particularly loved her pronunciation of the word "masculine" and she has a dry sarcasm that's thoroughly entertaining. The series features "live models" sourced from the famous faces of the day. The likes of Dora Bryan, Lynn Redgrave, Ron Moody and even a young Benny Hill! Click on the links below to view the individual episodes. Each is approx 15 minutes long:
If you have a rainy afternoon to fill one day, you could do worse than to take a peek into fashions past and treat yourself to some fabulous vintage fashion footage...