Sunday, 14 December 2014

Burdastyle #114 10/2011

Wow I drafted this post weeks ago and have only just got around to posting it! I was hanging on to get some better photos, but lack of natural daylight and shortness of time has led me to post the original snap I took on my phone. The top doesn't quite look as it does in the photo as I made a couple of changes.

I bought a beautiful lightweight printed cotton from the market a few weeks ago. I spent a while going through my collection of burdastyle magazines looking for the perfect pattern to use it on.

I finally settled on #114 from October 2011. Which was the first issue I ever bought. The style is a classic blouse with pleat front and Peter Pan collar. It has a bound neck opening and long sleeves.mits also a sewing course with this issue.

I did make a few minor adjustments to the pattern.

Firstly I widened the sleeves at the hem, to create a slim bishop sleeve and finished this with a bias bound hem. No placket. This makes the sleeves much quicker to sew.

I then sewed up the pattern as per the rather scant instructions, the construction of the pleated section is rather strange and there could be a simpler and easier way to do this. I found the bound slit at the back to be rather bulky. To be fair I don't like bound slits and find a faced slit is easier to create and creates a better finish, this was my second alteration.

I also ended up redrafting the collar as the draft did not lie correctly. To begin with I made the curved edge more rounded. Then I started with the collar. If you have ever drafted a flat collar, you will know that you need to take out a wedge from the outside edge to prevent the collar sticking up at the shoulder seams. Taking out this wedge helps the collar fit around the neckline more naturally. 

I initially used the pattern as it was, but once it was basted in place I could see the problem. I cut a slit from the outside edge to almost the neckline and overlapped by 1.5 cm, which was the amount I pinned out on the first collar. I then smoothed the lines and recut the collar. Success. I finished the neckline edge with a bias facing and used a hook and eye closure to finished the neck slit.

I was also not happy with the pleats. they are secured in the pattern and my photo with a couple of sets of horizontal stitching. This resulted in some gaping. I ended up stitching the pleats in place and the result is much better. I'll try to get chance to post updated photos nect time I wear this top.

I'm really pleased with the final outcome even if it did take way longer than planned. I just wish the collar draft had been more accurate. 

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Room Revamp

So I have't been sewing much lately. I set myself a slightly more challenging task - to revamp the front room.

My Hubby has been away and I need to keep myself busy so I planned to redecorate.  The room has been looking rather sad for a while and the dado rail was coming away from the wall and some of the shelves were falling down too. The paper had been painted over several times and was also getting rather battered. Time for a new look.

Wallpaper Stripping

I prepped the room over the first two weekends he was away. One weekend I stripped the wallpaper and then filled the walls during the week. The following weekend I sanded the walls ready for papering. I had also been keeping an eye on Freecycle and managed to aquire a new to me sofa, which was perfect for our needs and would replace our rather battered leather sofa. A friend helped collect it and I waited for a week to get rid of the old one. The space was difficult to work around!

On Saturday, my Mother in Law and I went to South Shields market and bought the fabric for the curtains and some fabric for sofa throws; went to B&Q and bought lining paper and paint and we were ready to go.
Walls ready to paint

Sunday morning we emptied the room and set to work painting the ceiling and papering. Most of the paper went on well, but there were a couple of sections that i wasn't happy with the finish and I ended up taking them off and pasting some more on. just putting lining paper on made such a difference, lighter and brighter.

Alcoves and walls painted

Monday we painted. The alcoves were painted "Proud Peacock" and the rest of the walls buttermilk. both by Dulux paints. I used the spirit level to ensure all my top edges were straight. I have a fairly steady hand and only needed to touch up the white paint on the coving in two places.

Impressive art

Tuesday was spent making glossing the woodwork and making the curatins and throws and getting everything ready to dress the room before John arrived home on Wednesday morning. Unfortunately the curtain tape I had was faulty and it failed to gather and the threads snapped, which meant a trip to Dunelm Mills to buy more on my way back from picking John up from the airport on Wednesday. I also needed he assistance in hanging the large painting.

Freecycle Sofa and my painting.

He has said he wanted the walls painted orange, but I decided to include one of the large paintings I made for my MA. It's very orange and contrasts nicely with the feature walls. All in all a job well done, and a nice room to relax in.

Hearth and alcoves

The finished room.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Bernina breakdown

My bernina has broken down. The other night it started running on its own. The problem was a bust capacitor in the foot control. 
So where do you find a replacement for a 50 year old part. Maplin of course. 
My hubby soldered the new one in and away we go, machine working well again. 

Sunday, 5 October 2014

LEGO life hack

Have you ever lost your keys?

It's a frequent occurance in our house, so yersterday John decided to solve this problem. He raided my son's lego box, found some blocks and a base block and with the aid of a small drill and a couple of screws, our keys are now to be safely found attached to this lego block.

I think the idea came from pinterest at some point, but I can't find the link. Simple and it works. I even have a huge set of work keys and just one regular block can hold them all. Genius!

Monday, 29 September 2014

Check Out these Amazing refashions

I came across this feature the other day and was pleased to be included amonst some wonderful upcycled ideas.
Pop over to Paris Ciel to see Amy's post. It's awesome.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

France Fun and reality hits.

Camp cook
Its been a while since I posted on the blog. It's been busy as I've been sewing for others, had family birthday celebrations, a holiday in France and a new job.

The last few months have been stressful as I faced redundancy from my Job, but by the end of May I had secured a new post which I started a few of weeks ago, but more of that later. I have done a few bits of sewing, one of my most successful pieces was a waistcoat for a friend to wear at his daughters wedding. I did welt pockets for the first time and I have to say I impressed myself so much as I managed to make them almost invisible - go me!

There it is!
Can you see it?
 My mum had a rather significant Birthday and celebrated with a big garden party, we arrived with the car fully loaded as we were heading off to our holiday the very next day. My sister and brother in law prepped and made two very large paella's, assisted by my hubby during the cooking process. He wore the shirt I'd made for him a couple of weeks before and I wore my black jersey maxi dress that I made a couple of moths ago.

Libby cooks Paella
The next day we headed of to France for 10 days camping at Le Pas Opton. This is a site run by Spring Harvest Holidays, a Christian organisation based in the UK. It's a fab camp site with some low key Christian events which you can attend if you wish. A bible study in the morning and a short celebration early eveing, along with all the other types of things you'd expect on a camp site. Kids clubs, a fab pool and slide, quiz night, wine tasting (produce from a local vineyard - we brought 6 bottles back), sports competitions craft workshops and not forgetting some coffee and cake tasting.

Coffee and cake tasting
Bamboo at Coex
We hired one of their luxury tents which sleeps six (but it would be a tight squeeze), but with 5 of us it was comfortable. The tents come well equiped with proper beds and matresses, a cooker, kitchen equipment, fridge, lighting and electricity. there is a fab bakery on site, providing fresh baguettes all day! along with a take out menu. The was facilities are kept really clean and there are washing machines and dryers on site too.

The Bar is the hub of the site, where coffee is served in the morning and the bible studies take place. WiFi is available in the bar and coffee shop area, but has to be purchased extra. the coffee shop boasts great fair trade coffee, provided by Kingdom Coffee.

Flowers at coex
The Children are well catered for and the site is safe. Our kids loved that they had some independence and could meet their friends and swim or take part in different activities and they all made new friends.

The locality is developing in what it offeres tourists, this was the third time we've been and there are now lots of activities and things to do and see within an hours drive. This year we visited the nearby town of Coex, where there is a scented garden, which was great to explore and even better it was free to get in.

Apremont is just a short drive away and there is a large lake where you can swim or boat, we decided to go boating along the river and had a great time splashing each other and some of the other boaters.


Also within 10 minutes drive is the velorail, a 10Km stretch of disused rail track that has been turned into a fun activity - as you cycle along the tracks on a "bicycle" powered cart through the local countryside.

Dragon being made
The city of Nantes is just under an hour away by car and we travelled there on the day when it rained and visited les Machines de I'ile. Think steampunk style giant creatures and fantasy environments. we got to ride on a tall mechanical elephant and saw the staff work on a mechanical dragon - awesome. If you are ever in the area it's well worth a visit.

Elephant ride
Well it's been 4 weeks since we got back and it's taken me that long to get this post together. I suppose that comes from starting a new job, after facing redundancy for the second time within 4 years, I was really happy to secure a new job before the end of the academic year. I'm loving the new post, but its tiring getting to know new systems and procedures and working for a different LEA, not to mention trying to learn the names of the 500 students I teach each week! so it might be a while before you see any more of my creations of an art or textiles variety. I am making, but it's going to take me a while to complete anything at the moment.

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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