Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Wrap Style Dress

I've been inspired by a dress I've seen in a shop recently. I tried on the dress in the shop, but the fit was off for me. too small on the shoulders and to big at the bust. I was in love with the dress, but however many times I tried it on - it still didn't fit :(

I set to work trying to create my own version. for my take on this dress I created a notch neck bodice, with a standing collar and cap sleeves - which was different from the dress I'd seen. I love cap sleeves and have been using them a lot this year.

I made a half circle skirt, which is not as full as the dress I'd seen, but better for everyday wear. I added long ties at the waist, which cross over the front and then tie at the back. This was the feature that I liked from the style in the shop.

I made my dress in a plain dyed black cotton from The Sewing box in Morpeth. It's fine for day wear, but something with more drape would be better for a going out dress.

I wore this dress with my restored DM mary janes and a red cardy for shopping in Newcastle today.

When I made the first draft I screwed up the colar on the bodice and had to redo the whole thing. thankfully I had enough fabric to make another one.

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Masterpiece Seamed Dress Burdastyle 09/2014 #122

On first glance I had passed this pattern by. I think it was the styling of it in the magazine.

Then I saw this version by dawn at Two on, two off. I liked her adaptation of creating the dress without the godet, and as I only had 1.5m of fabric I decided that this would be the dress to make.

For Christmas my husband had bought me some bright pink soft cotton baby cord. 3m of it and at 150cm wide, that's a good amount. I had used 1.5m to make a tunic dress back in January that is still waiting to be blogged. the rest was destined for this dress.

I did not make a muslin, but measured the pattern carefully at the wait and hips. I cut my usual size 38 for the bust and waist and graded to 40 at the hip. I extended the centre front to avoid having to cut the godet.

As the dress has lots of curved seams around the bust area I wanted to make sure that the fit was good, so after sewing the fronts together and the shoulders. I basted the side seams and tried on. I ended up pinching out about an inch at the shoulders, tapering to the arm edge. The side seams were fine in the bodice area, but the skirt was far to big and I ended up taking quite a bit in at the hip. I could have got away with the size 38 for the whole dress.

The fabric is quite thick so I didn't bother with a lining and faced the armholes and neckline with bias strips in a matching cotton. In retrospect a self fabric neck facing would have been better, as it would have given a flatter finish, and I think I might reshape the neckline a bit too. I can highly recommend this dress. it takes a bit of skill, but it's very flattering and forgiving.

Thursday, 30 April 2015

Wool sweater to cardigan refashion

I just love wool sweaters. Last year I was give a large mans wool sweater. I originally planned to boil it and felt the wool, but on closer inspection it was actually in good contition.
I adore wearing cardigans, they are great for layering and fab for spring when a jacket is too heavy but it's still too cool to go with short sleeves.

I used the pattern from Gertie Sews Vintage Casual. It was my first make from the book, and it won't be the last! I cut a size 6. I kept the original hem and cuffs, but had to find a way of binding the neck edge.

In the end I cut a strip of the sweater and treated it like I would a jersey binding. the results were great.

To prevent the neck and front edges stretching out of shape I applied a thin strip of interfacing. I also used ribbon to form a button band.

Wisely I tested the buttonhole first on a scrap, and it's a good job I did, as the knit fabric jammed and got caught in the button hole foot on two tries. I ended up folding a piece of baking paper around the edge and sewing the button hole over the top. this worked very well. It stabilised the fabric and was easy to tear away afterwards.

It's actually quite a while since I made this and I have worn it LOADS. It's a good basic cardy and great for layering. I need to make more of these.

Sunday, 26 April 2015

New landscapes

Stormy Sea - £95
I'm so pleased to be able to share with you my most recent paintings. These were created earlier this year and recently exhibitied at Newbiggin Maritime Centre.

House on the hill - £95
I work with acrylic paint and other items on canvas to create my paintings. I have't created any landscapes for a while, which is why I wanted to capture some of the local views - in my own style of course.

East Sea - £95
East Sea - detail
All these works are approximately 45 x 100 x 4.5 cm - not a format I work in usually, but I really enjoyed the challenge of working in a more elongated format to my usual work.

The Bay - £95
If you are interested in buying any of these - do get in touch. Each painting is £95 plus postage and packing.

The Loch - Sold

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Dying for a new lease of life - how to dye leather shoes.

I just love Dr Martens Shoes. I have done since I was about 17. Several years ago I had these tan leather Mary Jane DM shoes, which I wore all the time. You can see from the photo that they had become scuffed and rather tatty, to the point of being unsuitable to wear and they ended up relegated to the backof the shoe cupboard. 

A few weeks ago I was clearing out, and wondered if there was anything I could do to breathe new life into these that wasn't going to cost the earth. After a little bit of research I discovered that dying leather shoes wasn't that difficult and relatively inexpensive.

Step 1. Clean the layers of polish off the shoe. you can buy special deglazer to do this, but I used nail polish remover and cotton pads. deeper scuffs could be sanded with fine sand paper.

 Step 2. The dye. I bought Fiebing's leather dye from Amazon, it cost about £5, but i had some gift vouchers so I used those. I also bought neutral wax shoe polish, this was only £1. You will also need something to apply the dye with. I used a sponge dabber, but a natural fabric cloth or paintbrush would also work well. Gloves are also a good ideas to keep your hands clean.

Step 3. Cover the surface you are using with Newspsper and stuff the shoes with paper too to support them while you apply the dye.

Step 4.  Apply the dye. I worked in sections, starting from  the heel so I could check it was going on ok. This dye did run a little, but that was becasue I put too much on the sponge. apply a thin even layer and allow to dry fully. Depending on the style of your shoe, you may need to mask some areas with tape. I just wiped spills away with damp cotton wool. After the first coat of dye the shoes had a pinky tinge. In total I applied three coats of dye, allowing the shoes to dry completely in between each one. In total I used less than 1/3 of the bottle of dye.

 Step 5. Polish. I applied wax polish and buffed to a shine. I used two layers of the clear polish to achieve a good finish. The colour darkens considerably when the polish is added, so bear that in mind. I'm really pleased with the outcome and feel that these shoes have a new lease of life. can't wait to wear them.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Modern Home Needlecraft

I was fortunate to be gifted this book by a friend. I have spent the last couple of weeks pouring over the pages. There are some amazing techniques, pattern drafting directions and suggestions for make do and mend.
The book was published in 1946 and came in its original card envelope, with the address still intact. it even had the slip inside that stated it must be paid for by return, so maybe it was from some book club. It was published by Odhams Press in London, which I'd never heard of.

Inside the book I found two patterns, one for a child's dress - it's not a printed pattern, but looks to be in very good condition. There is also a knitting pattern for a boy's slipover. I don't knit so cant ever imaging making this.

The book contains a wealth of information and there are a range of techniques covered. Have you ever heard of a Jetted pocket?
There are pattern drafting instructions for a range of simple garments including suspender belts and underwear; mens shirts and pj's; childrens shirts and trousers.

And to top it all off, suggestions to make do and mend. How to make your garments last longer or refashion them. I particularly like the section on disguising underarm shabbiness!

This is an absolute treasure and I look forward to trying some of the techniques and patterns for myself.
Have you ever come across such a gem?

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Developing a Painting

Life has been very busy around here over the last few weeks. I have sewn a couple of items, but have yet to blog them. The creativity does continue though! I've had very little time due to a huge amount of work to complete over the last few weeks, it feels like I've been working non stop!

I arranged last year to exhibit some work at the Newbiggin Maritime Centre during march 2015. And true to form I've been undecided about the type of work I wanted to show. In the end I went with Landscapes of the local area as it's a location that overlooks the bay and would fit in with the setting.

So how do I create a painting?

The canvases were stretched and prepped, I'd collated together photographs and sketches to work from.

I work in a loose and quick method, mostly outside as I like to pour paint and spray the paintings to create a range of different effects and both these create a huge amount of mess.

I'd sketched basic forms on the canvases and laid down the first washes of acrylic paint. I like to cover the canvas with a thin layer to begin with.

From there I begin to build up layers, slowly adding colour - often very bright colour.

I always document my work as it progresses and I often photoshop my work to quickly explore how each piece can develop without committing to the paint. Although I start with  my drawings and photographs my paintings usually abstract themselves dueing the process.

With this image I intensified the colour and added some darker tones to the background.

This is then further experimented with in paint. I love adding in texture and often use a range of different materials to build this. All this takes a couple of days as I layer paint, let it dry, adjust and add washes and details, which helps build complexity and depth.

These are not the final pieces - come along to the exhibition to see them. It's open until the end of March.


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