Monday, 4 August 2014

Finally I make something for my husband...

I have been saying for quite a while that I wanted to make something for my hubby (not counting the Totoro Onesie) he loves shirts with nice patterened fabric and when we were in Nottingham in May we picked up some floral cotton, it's soft and has a nice drape to it. He announced that he'd like a shirt made up in it, and as it was only £2 per meter we bought 3m.

I traced off a pattern from one of his favourite shirts, I didn't use a pattern as the only ones I had were in Burdastyle magazine and were not in his size. To trace the pattern I simply ironed the shirt, they lay thin tissue over it and traced over the seam lines with a biro, this was easy to do as there is very little ease on the sleeves in a mans shirt. I do need to make slight alterations to the pattern, but the fit was generally good. I think i'll increase the collar and collar stand size next time.

I used Grainline Archer's sewalong as I haven't made a shirt before and her instructions are awesome. the only thing I did differently was to make a different shirt placket. I taught myself how to do these, by deconstructing a shirt cuff many years ago, before I'd really got into sewing. As I used to teach Design technology I'd always advocated using disassembly to help understand how things were made. Now I put it to good use when I want to know how to sew something.

The shirt came together really well and John wore it to the wedding we attended on Thursday, you can see for yourself that he looks really comfortable in it. he's now orderd another 2 or 3  - so that will keep me busy, oh and there was enough left over for a little top for me!

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Stretchy Skull Dress

It seems i've been neglecting my little blog a bit. I have been very busy making and should have lots of nice things to show you over the next few weeks, just need to find the time to actually write about them - too busy with real life, and that's the way it should be!

Way back in May I picked up some stretch skull lacy fabric, not too much stretch and it really did need some lining. I knew it would be perfect for my daughter and found a pattern from a recent Burdastyle magazine (it's based on the under dress of this pattern) that would make the perfect dress.

I had a bit of trouble with the neck binding and ended up doing it twice - i'm still not really happy with it as it twists slightly. I'm still learning when it comes to knits, and the lining was much stretchier than the skull fabric.

My Daughter loves it though and struts around in it and some high heeled ankle boots  - a true diva in the making!

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Stuck in the frustration

Do you ever have so many ideas in your head that you find it difficult to settle with any of them? Well that's me at the moment. I'm finding it very difficult to develop my art practice, and get some practise in.

Let me define my dilemma. A few years ago I created some successful work, which I still love, based on the fragility of life, using butterflies as a motif. I'm not sure I've fully exhausted this yet, but don't really know where to go next. Last Summer I stepped out of my comfort zone and created 30 very different works, which were wide ranging in technique and style. I really enjoyed doing this, but I'm not sure I'm really a landscape/ portrait artist.
I know that I want to link the art and the sewn stuff I make together, so that my artistic practice ties in with the dressmaking and designing I do. I feel that I need some overarching theme that grounds my work and gives it meaning. I'm not sure how to develop what I've done to push it further and what media to focus on.

In short- I need a grounding point for my work. I need it to link all my creative interests. I need to keep drawing and painting as part if what I do. I love experimenting with surface, pattern and texture and love experimental texture. I need a sustainable form with plenty of scope for development. I'm not sure if I should keep the butterfly theme? Have I exhausted it? Do I need some other motif/ subject matter to help me develop ideas?

Do you have any experience in developing your own art practice or the practice of others?
Any ideas?

Sunday, 22 June 2014

The Maxi Tank Dress

Everyone seems to be wearing jersey maxi dresses at the moment, so I though I'd join in. I picked up this back cotton jersey at South shields market a couple of weeks ago for the bargain price of £2 per metre.

I traced a tank top that was a good fit.

Then I added to the length so that it would be ankle length, and a little more width at the hip. I added a good seam allowance at the hem and shoulders, but only added 1cm at the side, which in hindsight was not enough. as you can tell it's quite a snug fit. A little more ease next time.

The bindings for the neck and armscyes are cut at 95% of the required length and sewn in the round, folded over to completely seal in the raw edges. It gives a great finish but is a little bulky, i'd make this a single fold next time.

I completed the whole dress in about 1 1/2 hours last week, and intended it for a bathing suit cover up for my holidays. however I decided to wear it to go out with friends this weekend. It's really comfy, but I would add a little more ease at the top to make it a little less figure hugging - the right underwear is essential!

It was very easy to make and easy to draft, I'll definitely make another one, maybe with sleeves next time!

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Introducing...The Alexandra Dress

Well after much planning and drafting and making I can finally reveal my self drafted dress - The Alexandra Dress.

It's a casual fit with flounce down the princess seams and slightly dropped elasticated waist. It could also be made as a blouse to wear with wide legged trousers.
The flounce helps balance a pear shaped or narrow figure and also provides some coverage at the top of the arms but still remaining sleeveless, although you could join the flounce at the top to create a flutter type sleeve.

I have found this dress to be easy to wear and have worn it to work, with lots of positive comments!
It works best in a drapey fabric, and as mine was rather sheer I lined it, so it's a bit heavier than planned. It would be perfect in a rayon, silk or light weight cotton. My version is in a lightweight polyester crepe with a beautiful handle and it doesn't crease so would be perfect for holiday packing.

I think it would look lovely with a maxi skirt with a side split, and although I have a long zip in the back you could get away with a keyhole opening and a button loop.

I did actually finish this some weeks ago, but have been working on the instructions and have only just managed to get the pictures off the camera.

It's my first attempt at drafting multiple sizes, using some free drawing software (inkscape), transferring to PDF, and writing instructions. I'm a beginner in all this and I know I still have a LONG way to go to get to perfection! I made an error when I made up the dress and didn't document the process for the benefit of instruction writing. which means I need to make this again to illustrate my instructions.

I also had a few issues with the software I was using - learner issues! I got the position where I'd saved the file and needed to go back to an earlier version and hadn't saved this separately. I'm aware my PDF pattern is not perfectly presented, but in this case I can't make the adjustments I'd like to - due to newbie error. However I am going to make the pattern available FREE, if you would like to use it with the following conditions...

1. You make the dress/ blouse for your own personal use and not for profit.
2. You let me know how accurate the drafting is - I need to know that the software conversion to PDF hasn't messed up the grading.
3. Are the instructions clear enough? - I know they aren't perfect and the illustrations are missing.
4. You email me any images of the garments you make from the pattern or email a link to your blog/ site.
5. You credit me/ my blog when commenting on them.

I'm looking to improve my skills and am seeing this as a learning experience. I'd love to hear your thoughts and observations, and if anyone can recommend some good books on pattern grading...
There's a link to the files in my side bar or you can request a copy by email.

Saturday, 14 June 2014


I love pinterest! I find it a great resource for logging my ideas and inspiration, both for my personal work and for things to do with my students. 

I visited they Vivienne Westwood shop in Nottingham recently and fell in love with this skirt.  There's a dress version too, just wish it was in my price range. 


I've also been drawn to the stunning Irish crochet, which looks very much like lace. I'd love to learn, so if you know of any classes or workshops do let me know. 

I'm also STILL trying to think about how I link my art and dressmaking together. 

I'm STILL working on my first graded pattern, which I hope to get tested when I've finished writing the instructions. It's taking longer than planned.

I'm working on a couple of commissioned pieces for a friend at the moment, but I did manage to run up a tank style maxi dress, it's very figure hugging and really needs the right underwear to look good on. Next time I'll add more ease. It was a wearable muslin as the fabric only cost £4 from South Shields market a couple of weeks ago. I must get around to posting photos of my makes, but need to get to grips with the new camera first, and finding the lead that connects it to the computer might help too.

Friday, 6 June 2014

MMM14 Roundup

Source Here

I've been really boring at documenting my me mades this year. I'm blaming the most hectic month on the Calendar. GCSE / A level and year 7 Art Exams to prep for and grade. Reports to write and having a new camera that I haven't got to grip with yet! All LAME excuses I know. However, I wore something me made every day bar two days. I've noticed two distinct holes in my me made wardrobe - trousers and shorts. casual and jersey/ knit tops. This I will have to rectify.

In order to do this I plan to make...

Tank style, self drafted,  jersey maxi dress (I have the fabric).

These trousers from burdastyle magazine - I might make these as shorts too.

and this top.

Anyone else have any good suggestions.


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