Thursday, 27 June 2019

Perfect Prom Dress

Well over a year ago I offered to make my daughter her prom dress. I know her ideas had changed frequently from short beaded pastel coloured dresses to edgier dark designs. She has looked at everything from mint green to black; short to long; full skirt to slim fitting; strapless to full bodice.
By the new year, she had settled on a dress similar to this but in Emerald Green. She didn't really want emerald green, but something much darker and we bought 4m of this Bottle Green satin backed dupion from Minerva Crafts (it was the same colour as my bridesmaid dresses). She had already bought shoes and jewellery and had a clear idea of how it was all going to be styled.

Partially constructed bodice
After looking at her design choice and discussing what she wanted I chose to use the strapless bodice from Gertie's Ultimate dress book and adapted the bias band to create the eyelash bodice, but with off the shoulder bands like the inspiration photo. Narrow spaghetti straps were also added.

The skirt is based on the BHL Anna dress skirt, with the seam lines adjusted to match with the bodice seams.

I made the bodice inner structure from canvas, which was fitted to Bethan before adding boning. I also used the alternations I made to adjust the pattern pieces for the shell and lining.

I made a bit of an error here. I had to make very little adaptations to the bodice pieces, but one thing I did do was take about 1/2cm from each side seam. I should have left this as it was as that extra space was taken up by the boning and by the time I'd sewn it all together it was a bit too tight and I ended up letting out the side seams. DO NOT OVERFIT when using many layers and boning. I used plastic boning as this dress will be going in the washing machine and used it on all the seams in the bodice.

Catch Stitching the seams
I added the bias band once the outer bodice was constructed. The bands were stitched closed for the sections that go off the shoulder and then turned before the raw edges were neatened and sewn to the bodice front and back.

It was a really bright evening!!

The skirt was then sewn and attached to the bodice before adding the zip and lining. I used an invisible zip. I know this is risky with a dress this fitted, but as this won't get loads of wear I think it's ok.

Photo bombed by dad!

I allowed the dress to hang for a few days before heming. I think you'll agree that she looks stunning in it! All set for a great evening of partying!

Friends together

Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Cerise lace dress - Review

A couple of months ago I made this stunning lace dress with fabric sent to me by Minerva crafts,
I had a job finding the perfect colour to line it with but eventually chose this stunning turquoise cotton.

As the weather has warmed up a bit I've had far more opportunity to wear this dress and I always get positive comments when I do.

You can read the full post over on Minerva Crafts blog here.

Sunday, 23 June 2019

Red Letter Christians UK Launch

I wanted to share a little about the event I attended on Thursday this week.

*Faith-based post*

I have followed the Red Letter Christians blog for some time and many of the posts resonated with me. So when I heard that there was an intention to Launch a similar movement in the UK I was very interested.

On Thursday, my husband and I went to Heaton Baptist Church in Newcastle to hear how this movement started in America and how it might look here. I didn't really know what to expect but came away inspired and challenged by what I heard.

There was a time of singing - as there often is in a regular church service, and then a couple of local groups shared how they were seeking justice for people in the area. One of which was Action Foundation, which works with refugees in Newcastle and the North East and the other was Common Change, who work in small groups to pool financial resources to help those in need in the local community.

The Founders of Red Letter Christians in the USA, Shane Claiborne and Tony Campolo shared what the vision of this movement was. They are both inspiring speakers - but very different.

The movement focuses on the words of Jesus. These would have been printed in red in some Bibles to draw attention to them. It's a call to live by those words and follow the example of Jesus, rather than the policies and rules that have grown around the church today.

I don't know what your stance is on matters of faith. but I do know that in our society Christian can be a dirty word among many. Often the term Christian has been associated with hatred for those who are LGBTQ+, hypocritical, legalistic and particularly in America this has sometimes been linked to which political party you follow too. Many Christians hate that this is what the term Christian has come to symbolise.

The Red Letter Christians movement is a move against that. It's a desire to follow Jesus' example of love and his words that bring justice and life. It's a call to love and stand with those who are persecuted, homeless, poor, bereaved...  
...the list goes on.

I know I'm not perfect. I know I won't get it right all the time - that's not the point. I can honestly say I want to be a Red Letter Christian. A follower of Jesus. I want to learn from him to live my life as fully as possible in his way and to make a difference to the world. I can't do this on my own. I need God's spirit to help me and my friends and church to support and challenge me. but I'm up for the challenge - are you?

You can find out more about Red Letter Christians UK on their website, Facebook and Instagram.

Sunday, 16 June 2019

Recent Art Adventures

It kind of makes sense that as an Art teacher I enjoy Artmaking. This is true, although I don't often spend as much time creating as I would like. It takes a while to get all my materials out and set up, so I have to plan to spend a whole day making if I'm doing this at home and I take up A. Lot. Of. Space. when I'm working. My sewing, on the other hand, is usually confined to a much smaller area, unless I'm cutting out and therefore is easier to pick up and do a bit at a time. so I always take opportunities to attend workshops when I can.

Last week I have been fortunate to attend some CPD at The Northern School of Art at Hartlepool (formerly known as Cleveland College of Art & Design). It was a bit of a trek from school, but well worth it and it was inspiring to see the degree shows at the same time.

The CPD was focussed on printmaking with found objects. The instructor was Helen from Northern Print and she went over a range of different printing processes and how we could achieve effective results in the classroom, with or without a press.

As often happens I found myself drawn to the monotype processes. I don't know if it more to do with the painterly aspects of this type of printing or the immediacy and unpredictability of the technique that I like. I played with the layering of textures and shapes, using both hand printing and the press to achieve different results.

What was new to me was using a printing medium for using with acrylic paint. I was pleasantly surprised how long the paint stayed open with the medium added. I think I will buy some to use with my Gelli plate at home as I have found the fast acrylic drying time limiting when working with the Gelli plate. When I make monoprints at home I usually use oil-based ink, which I have grown to love but it can take a long time for the inks to dry and then there is the cleaning up!

I am constantly drawn to printmaking and would love to pursue this further, especially textile printing methods.

On Saturday we also had our monthly crafternoon and I decided to start a painting. So I took along some paints and some design ideas I've been working on and began to create the underpainting. I go from excited to bored very quickly and I'm starting to realise that I like my paintings to have textural qualities and at the moment this work is far too flat and the colours and layout are not quite right. Over the coming weeks, I will be adding to this to start to bring it to life. I really do like to work with mixed media and would love to bring some stitch into this work at some point. Watch this space!

It's always amazing to see how my preferences and ways of working change and develop over time. I wonder where this will go next?

Sunday, 9 June 2019

Last Minute Alice

The exam season is drawing to a close and it's almost the end of the university year. My eldest son will be back home on Monday after completing his first year at Leeds University. My daughter takes her last GCSE on Friday the 14th of June and my younger son will also finish his last A level exam on the same day. My husband has had all his grades back for his university course at Durham and he is happy with them. For all we thought that early June would be fairly quiet it's actually turned out to be quite a busy month, with lots of traveling around the country and some key events.

The 7th of June was John's college party. It's the end of term and his final year, so the last opportunity to see many of those he's been studying with. The end of year parties are quite legendary and always have a theme. Last year it was Children's TV and we went a Florence and Zebedee from the magic roundabout.

Florence and Zebedee
The year before was 80's themed and we went as music icons, Souxsie Sioux and Morrissey.

Channelling the 80's

So when we heard the theme for this year we were truly excited - Alice in Wonderland. I had borrowed my Queen of hearts costume from panto from a couple of years ago and we had the materials to make John a Mock Turtle costume. However we found out that it was to be more a tea party and less fancy dress, so my costume would have been way over the top!

A bit too much?

Last minute my husband decided that a dress with Alice on rather than going as a character might be more in keeping with the evening, so off to The Sewing Machine Guy I went and picked up just over 1m of this Kokka printed fabric.

I knew I had just enough to make the pencil skirt version of Butterick B6453 as long as I used another fabric for the facings. I already had a long invisible zip in my stash.

It took just over 1 1/2 hrs to cut and assemble the dress. I did end up taking in the side seams on the skirt and the princess seams on the bodice, just under the bust. As I'd made all other necessary alterations on prior makes this was super easy to complete. My Irregular choice shoes were the perfect match, I also made a pocket square for my husband to wear with his suit - there wasn't enough for a tie.

I'm glad I went for the simpler option as we got a bust tyre on the way home and it was pouring with rain. The wheel wrench was not very strong and wouldn't shift the wheel nuts. We were rescued by a friend who came out with a better quality piece of kit and we were back on our way within 10 minutes of him arriving.

I finally got to wear my Queen of Hearts costume while fundraising for Morpeth Pantomime Society on Sunday at Morpeth Fair day. Can you spot me?

Sunday, 2 June 2019

Me Made May Review

Well, I made it to the end of May and I wore me made every day. I didn't manage quite as much colour as I'd like, but I think that's down to many of my more colourful items being summer wear and it's not been that warm.

I didn't document my outfits simply as life has been far too hectic to do so and I can't stand bathroom selfies - unless the bathroom is stunning.

So what have I learnt about my me made collection?

I have enough me made to wear every day without having to really try and many of my me mades didn't get a look in.

I wear dresses for work - a lot!

Finding separates for work is more tricky. I only have one plain skirt to pair with many patterned tops. I think I need plain bottom pieces - skirts and trousers that are suitable for work.

When I'm not at work I often wear very casual clothes -  jeans/ shorts and a t-shirt/ hoodie. I now have two me made pairs of jeans and two pairs of culottes. I have lots of sorbetto tops.

One thing I think I'm missing is a hoodie/ sweatshirt to wear with my jeans. the one I've been wearing is a cast off from my boys and they had it second hand. It's starting to get a bit tatty, as are my cardigans. I need to make or buy some to go with all the dresses I wear.

I have been quite busy making - I have recently completed 3 pieces for Minerva Crafts Reviews so more on those later. I've also made a dress for a party I'm going to next week. Made in a couple of hours this afternoon.

May has been busy at work and we have had several workshops making costumes and a giant flying saucer ready for the Whitley bay carnival, which took place last weekend. The theme was out of this world. we had about 40 adults and children dressed up, parading, dancing and drumming. It was a great atmosphere, so on that day, it was a completely different me made.

Our Flying Saucer

Dancing along the street in our flying saucer costumes
So what lies ahead for June? A quieter making month. I have report deadlines coming up and I'll be spending a lot of time doing those. I have a couple of things that I need to do, but that will be it really until the end of the term in July.


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