Thursday, 27 February 2014

I'm not wearing a tent, something will just have to be done about it.

It's my latest refashion. A rather large tent like shift dress transformed into a fitted, waisted dress with contrast detail.

It all began back at my last clothes swap. I spied a shift dress made from lovely fabric. It's a satin baked polyester crepe and has a delightful drape and handle. It was just way way too big. It must have been at least a size 16 possibly bigger, originally from Alexon where most dresses usually start from £80+.

I wanted to change the styling completely and use the contrast cream yoke to make a peter pan collar. the fabric was already interfaced so it was ideal to cut into a collar. I was going to use the remaining yoke fabric to cut bias strips for some detailing, but the pieces left were very small and would have needed lots of piecing together.

I unpicked the dress - the back panels had darts which I unpicked and pressed out. the front princess seams had a serged edge which meant a standard bodice from would not fit. I altered my basic block to make a princess seamed block with the seams ending at the shoulder - in line with the back shoulder darts.

The detail is created by adding a front placket/ pleat - think sorbetto and you're on the right lines. I used some purchased satin bias binding in cream to edge this placket/ pleat and stitched it in place - piping would also work. I used the same bias binding at the bodice/ skirt seam.

I had just enough shell fabric to make a pencil skirt and used Gerties version from her book, making the darts into pleats instead on the skirt front.

There wasn't enough lining to fully line the dress, so I opted to line just the bodice. I slip stitched the lining in place along the waist seam and down the zipper - which i used a lapped version as I couldn't get a concealed zip in the right length.

The dress was finished with 5 small cream buttons on the front placket. I wore this to work on Monday and it felt so comfortable, the satin back of the crepe, really helps the fabric glide on and off. The fit is good, although I think I need to shorten the back of my bodice by about 1- 1.5cm. What do you think?

Original Dress - Free
Zipper £1.15
Buttons 40p
Bias binding 50p
thread from my stash
Total cost £2.05

Soundtrack - Public Service Broadcasting

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Inkscape Pattern Grading...

...or how I spent my weekend.


 Over the past few months I've been reading quite a bit about grading patterns and for the home sewing enthusiast it seems that doing this by hand using the cut and spread/ overlap method is the way forward. However, I have a simple pattern that I'd like to share soon, but my home drawn versions are a bit untidy. I needed something a little more professional looking.

I downloaded the opensource Inkscape programme, as I just can't afford Illustrator right now! I spent ages on Saturday getting to grips with drawing, adjusting objects, lines and curves and finding a grid that was accurate - generally getting to grips with the very basics of the programme. I still have a lot to learn, but it's looking promising.

To save time I used a basic size 10 bodice PDF from Ralph Pink as I didn't want to spend ages drafting in the programme. It's really easy to embed a PDF and use it to trace around.

I overlaid a grid and made sure all the default measurements were in mm and the grid lines were also at 1mm apart (you could set this to any suitable measurements cm/ inches)

The drafting process is based on the tutorial from Threads which you can find here.

I added a layer and drew the horizontal and vertical lines that would form the 'cut' lines for grading.

Then on a new layer a created shapes, by tracing the blocks formed by the cut lines and the edge of the sloper. I filled these with slightly translucent yellow and green colour.

I zoomed in to make sure that what I was doing was accurate and started to move the pieces the required amount for the grade rule. I based my rule on standard measurement given in Metric Pattern Cutting for Women's Wear by Aldrich.

It took a while to get to this point, but once I'd done this it was quick and easy to adjust the gap or overlap for each size increase. I started with a size 10 and graded up two sizes and down two sizes. I wouldn't recommend doing any more than that.

Once the pattern was spread I (again on another layer) traced the new outline and darts, using the bezier curves to blend neckline and armscye curves.

Once all the sizes were complete I alined them so that they were nested and hid the grid. I still have more experimenting and learning to do here, including converting to PDF for exporting the usable file, but feel that I have discovered a way to digitise and grade my patterns on a small scale. I quite like doing techy stuff, as long as I don't have to spend all my time doing it!

If you'd like to know more about what I've been doing, or can offer me any advice for further development please get in touch.

Friday, 21 February 2014

Sneak Peak WIP

Can you guess what it is?

(sorry for poor quality - had camera on the wrong setting!)
More to follow soon.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Tasty Tuesday Teatime

I'd like to share with you our simple and tasty tea from today. It's based on the Hairy Bikers' Spicy Pork and Rice dish, with a few modifications. It's dead easy, one pot and blooming tasty.

First Soften an Onion, cut into wedges, in a little olive oil, fry for about 3 minutes.

Add about 500g of Pork loin, seasoned with salt and pepper and cut into strips, to the onion and brown, then I added 2 peppers cut into strips, some Chorizo sausage, two cloves and garlic and fried for a couple of minutes until the oil started to come out of the Chorizo. I also added a couple of chopped tomatoes as they needed eating up.

I added 1/2 teaspoon of chilli flakes, 1 teaspoon each of ground coriander and cumin and a little salt to season. stir this to combine with the mixture.

I added 300g of rinsed rice - I used a fragrant long grain rice and mixed in with the meat and vegetables.

Add some chicken stock, you need just enough to be absorbed by the rice - my method is to double the volume of the rice - (e.g. 1 cup of rice = two cups of stock) In this case I added 750ml of Stock.

I then added some broccoli Florets and brought to the boil. Stir, cover and reduce the heat to a low simmer until all the liquid is absorbed and the rice and meat are cooked. add extra liquid if needed. I found this took about 20 minutes.

Serve with a green Salad and a nice glass of wine.

If you haven't got the Hairy Bikers healthy eating books I can highly recommend them. They provide great recipes that become family favourites and are healthy as well.

Monday, 17 February 2014

Zlata Skirt by Stepalica

You might have noticed that AnaJan, over at Stepalica, has a new pattern for sale today. If you haven't I suggest you go take a look.

As a rule I don't do skirt patterns, but this is different. It has some really nice design features that sparked my interest and when I had the chance to be a pattern tester I jumped at the opportunity.
The Skirt has pleats and variations A and B have belt loops that are formed by the pleats. I've never seen this design feature before and it makes the styling unique.

I made version B with a contrast waistband and panel at the bottom of the skirt.

The pattern is very well drafted and all the seams were well matched, much better than some of the big 4 in my opinion. The instructions were easy to follow for someone with a little sewing knowledge. I thought the skirt would be tricky to construct, but it was very simple.

I wanted to create something that I would wear throughout the spring and summer, so I chose some lightweight cotton curtain fabric from Terry's Fabrics and some red cotton gaberdine from my stash. I chose these fabrics as they would hold the pleats well over time. the skirt is lined in cotton and has an invisible zip at the side.

The only alteration I made was to shorten the hem by about 2 inches. I wanted the skirt to hit just above the knee. I made the skirt up in a size 38. I am pear shaped and often have to grade up at the hip, not on this pattern. the fit on the hip was spot on, if anything I'd take the waist in a little more next time.

AnaJan recommends using fabrics with some body that will hold pleats well. I think that this skirt would also look really nice in a softer fabric with softer pleats or even with a chiffon or tulle upper layer. I'll definitely be making this again, maybe in something a little subtler fabric wise though. What do you think?


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