Vivienne Westwood at Danson House

1 sleeveA small but important collection of Vivienne Westwood designs, on loan from the V&A, can be seen at Danson House in Bexleyheath until 31 October.  Danson House is a beautiful Georgian villa sitting grandly atop of a very scenic park on the south-eastern edge of Greater London.  It’s a stone’s throw from Red House, the home of the ‘Arts & Crafts’ founder William Morris and both of these relatively little-known gems can be explored in a day.  However, when my friend and I visited Danson House, its setting and the summer weather pretty much stole the show so we spent hours lingering on the sunny terrace of the tea-room with a view of the boating lake and despite the distant tear of traffic, we felt transported to a different time…  Jo wondered who would’ve been lucky enough to live in such splendour.  An information tour of the house answered her question: this was the home of the owner of a plantation in St Kitts. Like much of this country’s Georgian heritage, the elegance was sponsored by slavery.  But it belongs to the people of Bexley now.  Tickets are £8, half price for National Trust and English Heritage members.

1 bubble skirt1 granny maxiThe Georgian period has been a very inspiring one for Westwood who shares its dedication to opulence, elegance and a fetish-like dedication to honouring the female form.  I admit I found the foil and jersey maxi dress that you see here a touch granny-ish, but was nevertheless charmed by the simplicity of some of these items typical of VW’s 1990s output.

The most impressive piece in my opinion was the green gown inspired by Rococo painters and by the typical French mid-century design of a type of dress named ‘le sac’ which has pleats of fabric at the back of the neckline falling to the floor.  Westwood never simply copies; she subverts which is evident in the lack of symmetry.  The gown is romantic and retrospective on the right side – with that unexpectedly unusual sleeve I so long to copy!  But the left side is modern, bold, confrontational even.  This dress was once worn by Linda Evangelista, the cruellest-looking of the supermodels!

1 robe a la francais

‘Le Sac’ or Watteau Gown, Back View, Mid-18th Century, France

1 gown

Westwood ‘Watteau Evening Dress’ Les Femmes Collection, 1996

1 Marge n' Jo

A Wrap at Last

1 Lea Wrap Dress by Stylearc Patterns The wrap dress appeared on my radar some ten years ago when Boden started making them in their beautifully-coloured print jerseys.  I’d have bought one but they were expensive.  Besides, I was wary of the style clinging to my mummy tummy – in fact, friends wore such dresses over pull-all-in jeans for the same reason.  I instead picked a sewing pattern for a faux-wrap that most closely resembled the style but was rather underwhelmed by the results.

As the years went by, my mummy tummy went while many not-quite-it sewing patterns for wrap dresses became available as something of a revival ensued.  I discovered that the designer who’d popularized the dress in the 1970s, Diane Von Furstenberg, had once produced a sewing pattern for her iconic creation in collaboration with Vogue. Lea Stylearc Pattern envelopeThese are much sought-after and crop up on Ebay from time to time: once again, out of my price range.  Then Stylearc Lea came along: so slinky, simple, sexy.  And so affordable!  £8, plus £6 for the 2 metres of fabric.  And so quick to make, and that’s including the time for the pattern to be flown over from Australia!!  Finally!

Stylearc Lea Side and Back

Fabric: Goth-friendly, tye-dye lightweight jersey from Simply Fabrics with a 30% stretch, meaning a 10cm square will stretch to 13cm.  But it doesn’t give easily.  My guess is it’s all cotton.

1 InstructionsLikes: a very easy make, cut from a few pattern pieces.  Two of the strip-like pieces you see on the right are meant for paper only, not fabric: they’re a sizing guide for the neckline so that you can check if it’s stretched out of shape in handling.  But my biggest like is the 70s vibe of this, with the big collar and hip-skimming silhouette.1 Collar

Size: If you’re unfamiliar with Stylearc patterns, they come in one size only, the size you order.  Which means you can’t make this for your mama, your papa and your sister too (and they will all want one).  I bought a 10.  The fit is just right; with none of that ease I’ve come to expect from other patterns.

1 cutting cuffsModifications: I added cuffs  Their finished height is 7cm but I now see that 5-6cm would be more in proportion.  If you need a turnback cuff tutorial, I’ve written one here for a woven fabric which should give you an idea of how to attach; for a jersey cuff, use 4cm binding strips folded to 2cm instead of facing.  Also, I shortened one of the ties to 75cm (from 100cm).

Dislikes: to admit to any dislikes would just be ungrateful, wouldn’t it?  Let’s just call them…. reservations:

Well, firstly, buy a bit more fabric than advised on the envelope if you have pattern-matching, just to be on the safe side.

1 Tie attachmentThe ties are a good inch higher than my natural waist which makes the dress feel small.  But to lower position of the ties would also lower the line of the v and be more exposing.  Wrap dresses are notorious for being revealing which is why in all of these big pictures, I’m wearing a pin.  Except this one: Lea, Without pin

I guess this style just isn’t for shrinking violets.

Finally, the small seam allowances.  0.6cm doesn’t give you any leeway if the dress is too small in places and it meant I couldn’t use my Elna overlock stitch as the fabric disappeared into the throat plate.  Instead I used a straight stitch with zigzag to finish/reinforce and it worked just fine.

I have yet to wear this out but my loved ones harshest critics have given it a thumbs up so provided this skimpy number manages to contain me, it might even make it into my all-time top 10!

Lea Stylearc in Tye Dye Jersey

Making Cushion Covers

1 Cushion coversA client asked me to make her a bunch of cushion covers.  OK, so it’s not the kind of exciting design/couture work I seek to attract :roll:  :-) but it’s more of a challenge than hemming jeans and good experience for getting the hang of pricing which should reflects the time taken and skill involved.  Two kinds of fabric were supplied and my brief was simple; no piping and no trims, just squares of 60cm and rectangles of 40cm x 60cm.  All with concealed zips at the bottom.  Without thinking too deeply, I quoted £10 per cushion.

1 velvetHm, perhaps not enough.  Next time, I’ll take into account the fabrics used. On this occasion, I had messy velvet (but beautifully thick velvet, just like the short nap of Blogstalker’s forehead.  In fact, I should have paid the client for allowing me to sew it!).  1 blogstalker's browThe striped fabric took caution too, not only in matching the design at the side seams but, prior to that, in cutting, as the position of the stripes had to be the same if you laid out all the cushions side by side on a sofa.

The first cushion always takes the longest as you work out a method and discard a few false steps.  I’ve laid out a how-to-sew in case it helps someone else but also to help me next time, if I forget after a while.  Also, my research came up with a simple solution to the saggy corners problem which I’ve outlined below in the how-to-cut Tutorial 2.

(If, on the other hand, you’re after a fun cushion cover, for example for a teenager’s bedroom or den, here’s a tutorial from the archives for a zip-free cushion cover.)

Tutorial 1: Sewing a Cushion Cover with a Concealed Zip along the bottom

The advantages of having zip on a cushion cover are many.  You can take out the pad occasionally and bash it into shape – or top up with filling.  If your fabric permits is, the covers can be laundered. And unlike with a cover that has an opening at the back, both sides of the cushion can be on display.

When buying zips, choose a colour which most matches the fabric at the point where the zip will be placed (e.g. with my client’s stripy fabric, I had to choose between beige or grey).  You need not buy the most expensive zip; unlike with a garment, these zips will not get frequent use.

Size matters: zips need not be quite as wide as the  cushion; a few centimetres shorter is fine (and cheaper, as zips go up in price with length).  In fact, it’s easier to open and close the zip when there’s some fabric at the ends to hold on to as you pull the tab.

A paper pattern is a good idea: size of cushion pad plus 1.5 seam allowances all around.  Make sure you use a set square, or equivalent, to ensure you draw right angles.

1 attach concealed zipper leaving spaces at each end

1 – Begin by finishing the bottom seam allowances of the fabric pieces; that is, the sides which will take the zip. I used an overlock-style stitch, keeping to the 1cm seam guide but you can zigzag. Press to embed stitches if your fabric permits it but don’t trim – that will come later. Then, using the invisible zipper foot, attach zip to the middle of the two fabric pieces leaving each end of the fabric pieces unsewn for 3cm -4cm.

 

1 Sew to ends with zipper foot

2 Change to an ordinary zipper foot. Sew the remaining 3-4cm, to the end of each side, keeping to the 1.5cm seam allowance. Move zipper tape out of the way to get as close to the zipper stitches as possible.

 

1 bracing seam as for sewing velvet

3 – Sew the sides, first one then the other, from the zip downwards, keeping the fabric pieces flat. Before sewing the opposite side, measure against the first stitching line to make you’re retained the dimensions of the cushion; especially if your fabric is moving about a lot. To stop velvet pieces from sliding against each other, I pinned on both sides of the stitching line. Finally, sew the side opposite the zip, first measuring from the zip AND OPENING THE ZIP SO AS NOT TO SEW THE COVER CLOSED! :-)

1 attach zipper tape ends to cushion seam allowances

4 – Attach ends of zipper tape to seam allowances. Hand-sewing is fine: I used a machine, with zipper foot. Trim seam allowances.

Tutorial 2: Cutting the Fabric to Create Plumper Effect

1 DG Asolo Moss Cushions

These are my own cushions, made from very expensive Designer’s Guild fabric and really cheap IKEA cushion pads!  They get sat on, squashed and generally abused.  As you can see, the corners look rather ’empty’.  I made a third cushion after following this method of reducing the amount of fabric in the corners so they fill better.

1 Fold pattern in 4

1 – Fold your pattern into 4. Mark a half-way point from each folded side to opposite cut side. On the corner with the four cut edges, mark a square of 1cm (for a larger cushion, increase to a larger square, eg. 1.5cm for a 50cm cushion, or 2 cm for a 60cm)

1 Clip

2 – Cut in a straight line from half-way marks to the inner corner of the square

1 New pattern

3 – The new pattern has a subtly curved shape. Use this to cut your fabric and sew by the method in Tutorial 1

The cushion looks no different from a square one, but there’s a subtle improvement in shape.

1 Corner reductionWow, that was traumatizingly square!  I might need to make something sirenish and for myself, to recover.

PDQ PDF

Printing patterns in PDF (Portable Document Format) is seen by many as something of a PITA (Pain in the Ass)!  I quite enjoy it; it’s like putting together a not-too-taxing floor puzzle.  Both Burda and Colette suggest using sticky tape in their guides on “how to put together PDF patterns” but a glue stick is pretty darn quicker since you cut (or fold back) half the margins.  Let me demonstrate.

1 cut marginTake two sheets that fit together, left to right.  Cut off the right side margin of the sheet on left.  1 trim right hand side margin, cover left hand side margin liberally with glue

Rub a streak of glue on the margin of the corresponding sheet.

1 stick

Stick the trimmed sheet to sticky margin.

If you’re unhappy with the placement, you have a few seconds before the glue dries to remove the sheet and re-apply.

Once you have completed a row, trim off the bottom margin of the entire row and stick to the top margin of the row below.

Work systematically, completing the assembly row by row as you would with tape.  Be  consistent, always cutting for example the right-hand-side margins and the bottom ones.  This Colette Aster, Version, 1 took me under 20 minutes to assemble.  As you can see, there’s a page missing.  By using Print Preview, I realised one of the pages didn’t have any part of the pattern on it so it didn’t get printed.  This may not have saved time, just paper!1 aster pdf in under 20 minsAnother advantage of using a glue stick is that you don’t get the gaps in between strips of tape.  Oh yeah, and you can run an iron over without melting anything!

Do you use the glue method or do you prefer Sellotape or Scotch Tape?  If so, why?

Summer Dahlia

Colette Dahlia Version 21 Colette D1 Colette Dahlia Pattern EnvelopeI was worried that Version 2 of the Dahlia would be too inappropriately revealing for my advancing years but the black dress on the Colette website must have been made of something slinky for it to drape so attractively.  My cotton lawn recreation had bit after bit trimmed off the bodice and still it looks kind of … frumpy.

1 Uh Oh, back of Dahlia V2 in the mirrorThe first sign of this not being the quick project I’d imagined came after the neckline bias was partially applied when I checked the back view in the mirror.  1 Trim 7cm off the neckline backThe bra straps and the dress straps were so far from each other!  Ugh, racer back!  In a previous project – my much worn Frida dress – I saved the situation with bra keepers but that was clearly not going to work here where the fabric and the straps were thin.  Instead, I measured the disparity and trimmed the neckline down by 7cm which seemed to do just the trick. Colette Dahlia Back ViewFront neckline trimThe front presented a similar problem so I cut 3.5cm from each side (grading to the middle of which I only lost 1cm) to bring the dress straps in line with those of the bra.  This gave me the chance to fix something else I noticed looked wrong with the bodice front: the instructions specify gathering fabric only at the centre of the neckline but this just makes the boobies look too far apart from each other 😯  I re-sewed the gathering stitches and distributed the fullness across the entire front neckline.  Much better.

1 Armscye acheFinally, the armscye was too high and really cut in.  I trimmed it down by 1cm and the dress was no more comfortable so I did it again, this time cutting another 2cm.  That’s some change!  If you ever have to do this alteration, don’t begrudge the time this takes as it’s quick and makes all the difference between the outfit getting worn or sitting in your wardrobe.

Oh yeah, and the zipper…  Because the waistband has a facing, there’s rather a lot of fabric going on in the seams at either side of the zip and I struggle to get it pulled up and down in the waistband region – a problem I also have with my winter Dahlia.  I thoroughly suggest you avoid this by handstitching the waistband facing to the zip fabric, which would also enable you to interface it for more structure.

1 MitraljezAfter Nicky recommended a trip to Shoreham-by-Sea to see the houseboats, I pushed the kids into the car for a mini adventure mid-half term and that’s where these photos were taken.  My son soon spotted his dream home!1 Ideal home exhibition

The day was warm and sunny with a gentle breeze that, alas, seemed to fill up my skirt from below and make it rise around me like a lifebelt!  Not that I want to put you off Dahlia, but be prepared to make some adjustments if this is going to be something better than a casual summer dress you can buy in a shop for a song.  I’m so making this again out of some slinky black fabric so I can swing my way through summer 😉

1 mumm

Shoreham Houseboat Grand Entrance

1 cat botherer1 summer dahlia plus cardie

Cowgirl, Restructured

Levi 921 Restyled into Jean Jacket

Back View Jean Jacket Levi 921The idea of making a jacket out of jeans came from a picture found on Pinterest. I had a very worn pair of Levis, kept in case I needed to paint the walls (or something), so I thought I’d use them to see if it could be done. And yes, it can.  Though for full-length sleeves, you will need to start off with longer legs!  Alternatively, you can leave out or use less fabric in the ruffle.  1 Jumbo Topstitching

Levi  921 were my favourite ever jeans.  My jaw virtually dropped when I first saw them (in 2002 or 2003).  They had so-called ‘jumbo stitching’ and were a very deep blue (though later faded); the waist curved in and the rise wasn’t too low.  They felt great too.  The denim was proper cowgirl stuff, pulling the saddlebags in tightly (‘saddlebags’, if you don’t know, are the plump bits that look like hips but are lower than the bones and are actually formed from buttock overspill! :-)  )  jumbo stitchingThe style wasn’t available for long unfortunately.  For the best part of the decade, boot-cut, stretch denim reigned, followed by the leggings-like skinny jeans we mostly wear today.  But I still buy a nearly new pair of Levi 921’s on Ebay sometimes.

Have you ever fallen in love with a design, or a product, only to find it discontinued?

Making a Jacket out of Jeans.

These notes are a supplement to the original instructions (follow the Pinterest link).

Ancient Pair of Levi 921If you want to give this a go, measure the waist of the jeans and your ribcage to make sure the waist will fit yours when the jeans are upside down.  Having said that, wearing this buttoned up (as in the last picture) just makes me feel a bit corseted so I prefer it like a bolero.

I made my first cut by measuring my waist to armhole length then cutting this from the waist down to the hips of the jeans, after first adding a seam allowance.  I put in bust darts but they weren’t necessary; in fact, the less done here, the better as you’ll preserve the rough-hewn denim effect.  For making the sleeves, I took a narrow-fitting sleeve from a dress pattern in the stash and cut them by working upwards from the hem of the jeans.

Most of the construction seams were done with matching blue thread.  Yellow topstitching was applied afterwards for decorative effect.

Step 1 The rear part will be stretched, bagging outwards so unpick the centre back seam and restitch to a flatter shape

The Beginning – The rear part will be stretched, bagging outwards so unpick the centre back seam and restitch to a flatter shape

Step 2 - Stich front pockets closed and cut away pocket bags

Don’t flap – Stich front pockets closed and cut away pocket bags

The Finetuning – Decide how much fabric to use in the collar and where to apply it. I experimented with some packing paper.

What do you think? I would like to try this again, with a different style of jeans and a neckline/hemline not so dictated by the original seams.

By the way, Happy Birthday to Moonchild Blogstalker who turns 10 tomorrow!It's the Blogstalker's Birthday

Cowgirl, Restructured

Familiar Faces

Three years ago when I started blogging, it seemed a futile business.  By sharing knowledge, I wanted to contribute something to the internet – after years of take – but most posts would take hours to produce, especially tutorials, and I rarely knew whether anyone read them.  I began to think each post a message in a bottle tossed into the ocean, fingers crossed.

Kate DaviesKate of Fabrickated, who’s been blogging pretty much daily for just over a year, must have felt like that too but she quickly gained a readership of those who, like me, appreciate her well-informed and all-encompassing advice on style.  I like to see Kate’s creative output too, as it’s varied and bold.  I mean, discharge pasteSilver-leaf beetles!?  Well, last Friday I made my way to Kings Cross to meet her.  Though her PA led me straight to her office, I’d have recognized Kate very easily if I’d have had to pick her out in a busy crowd at the station.  She looks just like in her blog!  Not only that, she was wearing her painted silk camisole in colours I’ve come to associate with her.  (Kate on the other hand realised I was a bit of a tich!)  Although we knew quite a bit about each other, meeting in real life helped fill up lot of non-sewing gaps.  Kate very kindly took me for lunch by Regent’s Canal – a former running haunt of mine but much changed after development.  We were a couple of doors away from Central Saint Martins so afterwards we popped in to see some of the students’ exhibits.  Most of it was decidedly zany like the fuzzy gloves, each studded with painted red screws, which we tried on.  Kate and I both love, and feel very lucky to live in, London.  I’ve a lot of admiration for the work she does in enabling the city to be a home to so many.  I went home feeling like I’d been on a bit of an adventure.  It was an unexpected high and evidence of how through blogging my world has grown.

Elna 6200 Decorator's TouchBack at home, Elna was waiting, fresh from her two weeks’ recuperation at World of Sewing.  Here’s a list of the treatments she received, with apologies for the jargon:

Remove ‘play’ from bobbin race and gears

Reset tension

Fit new bobbin hook cover

Check timing and hook and needle clearance

Delinting, degreasing, oil and lubricate

Stitch test, Clean down

[And finally… ] Electrical safety test.

In the 8 years I’ve had this machine, I’ve ignored some warning signs and the work was well overdue.  It cost £148.56 with a guarantee of 6 months.

She now sews with a creamy purr, whereas previously she had a tendency to squeak and whine.  Alas, despite my surge of creativity, my task this weekend was to put Elna to a most basic drawstring-bag job.  This is to replace the tent poles bag belonging to his school which son lost on a camping trip and for which he’d otherwise be charged some deposit money if not replaced.  Luckily, the job was a quick one as I had the ideal instructions: my first ever blog post, Nosebag!

Elna and Maxine

elna maxine

mullet free zone signThe dress on the left belongs to a client who bought it for £5 at an H&M sale (why, oh why wasn’t I at this sale?).  The original hem was all one length – a bit nunny – which didn’t do justice to the rather sensual upper half of the dress so the client asked me to convert it to a fishtail.  Some of you would call this kind of hem a mullet but I absolutely refuse to work with that term!  I haven’t seen the dress actually worn by the client yet.  In the photo it’s a bit wind-blown but otherwise I think it looks great and I enjoyed my little job.

a back viewI’d love to copy this design and make it for myself in some interesting drapey fabric as everything about it appeals to me.  The centre front panel is stretch mesh; the arrangement of the spaghetti straps is beautiful and the back isn’t overlooked either.  Elements of the design would translate well into a swimming costume or a jumpsuit too.  But where to start?  Do you have any recommendations for software that would convert a drawing into a technical one or what to use to make a paper pattern into a PDF?

Soon as I was asked to do this, my Elna stopped working.  As my client mentioned she sews too (but didn’t fancy tackling a curved hem), I asked if I could use her machine.  She messaged me to say yes but that her ‘Maxine’ is a very basic one.  I thought,  “Uh oh, what kind of a budget make is Maxine?”  but this turned out to be a mobile phone auto-correct for Janome.  Phew!

Barista cuffsTo familiarise with Maxine before tackling the fishtail, I spent a few hours fixing a dress of my own.  This is something I made 2 years ago by hacking into the Anna pattern.  My dress was originally ochre with brown cuffs which, I discovered, looked exactly like the Costa uniform – it’s clear that subconsciously I want to work there and live off Flat Whites and Carrot Cake…   close up of anna dartsAfter I dyed it brown, the dress became one of the most wearable things I’d ever made (blogged here) but I soon splashed bleach on it while cleaning the toilet.  I was so upset.  I needed to go darker to disguise the mess so black it had to be.  This meant the brown zip had to be replaced and all the stitching had to be redone a millimetre or so inside the original construction seams and also on the hem and the neckline.  Otherwise, any strain on the seams and the brown stitching would show  just like when someone with brown or red hair dyes it black and a few weeks later they get ‘hot roots.’ 

a close up of 3 stitchingsIn this photo you can see three colours of stitching on one of the waist darts, right to left: ochre, brown and black.  This may seem rather a lot of work for rather an unremarkable-looking dress but I love it for so many reasons.  It’s warm (pincord) and therefore perfect for those days at either side of summer.  Its softness makes me very huggable when I wear it (apparently) and as it’s so simple, it’s great for showing off any jewellery.  And for getting a bit of sun on my arms.

But yes, it would have been quicker to make a new one.  Do you think it’s worth doing jobs like this or is it simpler to start anew?

The Most Expensive Curtain Ever

 

mascaras de pelea fabric by alexander henryLucha libre curtainsLast year we completely renovated our son’s bedroom – it’s the room with the blue-tiled hearth I use as a backdrop in some photo-shoots.   However, I never got round to making curtains for its semi-circular bay window.  My son insists he doesn’t need curtains as he likes to lie in bed looking at the sky and the plane trees in the distance and yes, I take his point, but what about the electricity cable and the streetlights…?  As we had a very important visitor coming to stay in that room, the impending arrival gave me the kick to make the room a bit more homelike.

Firstly, the newly plastered ceiling needed a curtain track affixed to it.  In order to save the £230 track-fitting fee, we did the job ourselves.  It was horrible, fiddly work with much planning and marking and it blew all the daytime hours of Damon’s entire weekend and some of mine too.  It was the first time I had to make sense of tiny diagrams in the instructions by using a magnifying glass.  Shame on you, Swish 👿  Cutting curtain lengths on floorboardsNext, while Damon moved to the task of renovating the bathroom only to unearth plumbing horrors, I set about estimating the fabric amount required and ordering samples.  The curved window, typical of British 1930s’ suburban houses, was wider than it looked: 4 metres.  This meant the required width of the curtain would be between 6 and 8 metres.  Taking into account the pattern repeat and the  ‘drop,’ I’d need about 16 metres.  I wanted cheerful fabric rather than something grown-up so I opted for quilting cotton (which comes with a tremendous choice of colours and patterns).  At £12 a metre from Frumble, a bolt of 16 metres cost £192.  Which isn’t why this is the most expensive curtain ever.

mascaras de pelea fabric curtains alexander henryThe lining fabric came from the local curtain supplies store.  It’s crisp, white and since it’s cotton-rich, I hope it won’t be prone to mould spots come winter and condensation on the glass.  The lining and 10 curtains weights came to another £70.  Which isn’t why this is the most expensive curtain ever….

mascaras de pelea curtain makingCurtain-making isn’t my forte.  All that I know – which, apparently, is called the ‘bag-method’ – I learnt from Readers Digest Complete Guide to DIY.  The fact that my work will undoubtedly be subject to scrutiny makes it all the more nerve-racking.  But it’s dynamic work too.  The cutting up of the panels, the measuring and the marking  required so much getting down to the floor and up again that after three days I felt like I’d been to a yoga retreat!  There’s something rewarding too in all that flat geometry.  I love the point at which the lining and fabric are turned right side out and the side edges get a hot press: the lovely smell of steamy, printed poplin.  And hand-hemming more than 6 metres, though time consuming, really means you’re quite quick and neat by the end.

mascarasI did run into big trouble getting my panels to match up, both horizontally and vertically.  Unlike during the previous curtain-making occasion, my walking foot (even feed foot) simply wasn’t up to the job.  Something was wrong.  Normally, I’d slow right down, sewing centimetre by centimetre and checking for accuracy but there just wasn’t time… we had a very important visitor coming… So I kept going, sometimes with luck on my side, often not, but a passable effort.  If anyone points out the misalignments such as these, I’ll wrestle them to the floor I think.

NicoThe curtains were finished the evening before our important visitor arrived… which meant that a strapping 16-year-old exchange student from Munich (to the right of the picture) got to sleep soundly underneath the most barmy curtain he’ll see in his whole life, probably.   It was when the excitement was over that I realized the machine’s stitches weren’t forming properly.  I’ve taken Elna in for a repair which will cost £150.  Which still isn’t why this is the most expensive curtain ever…

No.  You see, my son wasn’t sure if he liked this choice of fabric quite as much as he liked Star Wars: Imperial Storm Trooper .  But I couldn’t bear those dull colours.  So, in order to sway his decision I said “If you choose Mascaras de Pelea, I’ll take you and the whole family on a holiday tour of Mexico!”

:roll:   Anyways…

nacho libre

 

Ariel

 

1 Before and After1 beetleI found this top crammed into a sales rail at Dorothy Perkins some rainy day back in January or February.  At size 18, it was far too big but I decided to restyle it, which for £7 seemed a risk worth taking.  I was quite taken by its green beetle shimmer!  The original plan was to create something fabulous, inventive even, but during the cold weeks that followed, as I watched it swamping the dummy, the fabric took on an uninspiring sheen.  Here’s a picture of it looking like cellophane on me  :-(   I realised when seeing this picture that no matter what I made, it would be so clingy that I’d only be able to wear it with perfectly fitting bras – of which I don’t have many.1 Wipeout1 aSo I decided to do away with as much surplus fabric as possible.  In no time at all (an hour really) with the help of my Renfrew pattern, and by keeping the original neckline, I turned it into a sleek, sun-loving staple.  The colour and texture remind me of Ariel the Mermaid’s tail; in fact, I’m longing for a mane of red hair to set this off!

If you’re considering a project of this nature but are reluctant to start, remember that sewing stretchy jersey is not an exact science.  You can get away with some approximation.  Similarly, I’ve noticed that a couple of my favourite RTW T-Shirts don’t lie flat properly – the side seams twist around – yet the garments still look good and feel comfortable.  In other words, go for it.

1 ariel back

A tutorial (of sorts):

Notes:

  • I’ve kept the original neckline as I didn’t think it could be improved.
  • I’ve kept the original sleeve hem but the shirt body has been shortened.
  • Being without a serger, I used a long, narrow zigzag stitch, then trimmed the seams closely.
  • I used my Renfrew, possibly the world’s most boring pattern, which has more than earned its keep: I’ve pirated it a couple of times before (for a Pattern Magic project and on another baggy-to-sleek restyle).  But you can use any T-shirt you like (or vest) as your template.  If two seams don’t fit, stretch reasonably evenly till they do!
  • You can use offcuts for bindings if you like.  As my fabric is metallic, I used offcuts under my iron to see if I could press new seams.
Step 1 Lay top flat, find centre and align pattern onto it, shoulder seams matching

Step 1 Lay top flat, find centre and align pattern onto it, shoulder seams matching

Step 2: Separate the sleeves and side seams then draw the back pattern onto top

Step 2: Separate the sleeves and side seams then draw the back pattern onto top. Sew the side seams, finish and press.

Step 3: Decide on desired sleeve length.  I decided to keep original sleeve hem.  Fold sleeve pattern in half; it should be symmetrical

Step 3: Decide on desired sleeve length. I decided to keep original sleeve hem. Fold sleeve pattern in half; with a jersey sleeve, the pattern should be symmetrical.

Step 4: Cut sleeve

Step 4: Cut sleeve

Step 5: notch the sleeve, then pin to armhole, notch to shoulder seam and underarm to side seam.

Step 5: notch the top of sleeve, then pin sleeve to armhole, notch to shoulder seam and underarm to side seam. Stitch and trim.

And finally…

No, I haven’t forgotten the Savage Beauty postcard giveaway?  Sorry it took so long.  The winner is Fabrickated.  Thanks to all who entered  :-)