Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Something to cheer you up, and some leopard dress progress

Fabric Label
I found this lovely label wrapped around a roll of black polyester lining in one of my favourite local shops, Dalston Mill Fabrics. I thought it was such a pretty, cheery piece of ephemera, I had to have it, which they didn't mind (probably thought I was a bit mad), and decided to share it with all of you, to cheer you up on these rapidly darkening Autumn days.
Now for some dress progress -
15th September -
I bought a meter of yellow lining from Dalston Mill Fabrics (that's when I found the label above). Went straight home and cut out all the pattern pieces.

18th September -
Get loads done! I sew the darts in the bodice and skirt, then the side and back seams of the skirt, using my favourite French seams, so it's all neat and tidy inside. I also sew the shoulder and side seams of the bodice, using the same technique.

21st September -
Making great progress - I really want to wear this dress by the next weekend. I sew the sleeves together, complete the hems on the sleeves, and attach them to the bodice. I also attach the bodice to the skirt.

23rd September -
I put the zip in by hand, then pin the facing to the neck.

Sewing zip in by hand

Placing dress on my new dress form
I love my dress mannequin! It's totally not my size - she's like a size 8 and a bit shorter than me, I'm like a 10-12 - but it's great to have something to have my work hang on, instead of keeping it in a bag, getting all creased-up.

Dress back - deep V
I've also deviated from the pattern a bit, and added a deep V-neck at the back. I've always loved outfits with something going on at the back - swing coats, fishtails, etc.

Next up - finishing the neckline, lining, and hems.

See you soon!

Friday, 17 September 2010

1 pattern, 3 dresses

After years of collecting, I have stacks of old patterns, ranging from the 1930's to the late 80's. But there are certain patterns I always gravitate back to, either because they are a joy to make, or they fit me really well. The pattern below is one of these:

Simplicity pattern 6555, circa 1966
I've made the shorter version twice without havibg to make any changes - it fits beautifully! I also love the unusual daigonal seams at the front:
Diagonal seams detail
 And here I am with the 2 versions - on the mannequin is a Halloween Alexander Henry fabric I bought while on holiday in San Francisco, and I'm wearing a black brocade purchased locally. Don't they look different?!
The same dress, 2 different fabrics
Next up - leopard! I've always loved it, and it seems to be in fashion at the moment, so it seems my timing is right. I picked up a couple of metres of this lovely stuff the other day from my favourite 50p stall; total cost £3.00. Bargain!

Detail of leopard fabric

Check back to see my progress!

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Fabulous Finds!

I love finding cool stuff in the street! For some unknown reason, this mannequin was left on my street with a bunch of other rubbish. I had a quick look at it, seemed like it was in good shape, so I took it home. There were even some pins and a needle stuck into it, so whoever threw it out must have been using it for home dressmaking. Well, I'm more than happy to give it a good home!
My new dress form
It's not my size, but when I get time, I might pad it out in the bust, waist, and hips so that it reflects my size. I remember my sewing teacher at school telling us how Hardy Amies had permanently padded dress forms  in the sizes of all his regular clients, eg The Queen, stored away. If it's good enough for Liz, it's good enough for me.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Sober work skirt, with a surprise! - Part 2

After much slaving over a hot sewing machine, here is the finished product -
'Miss Needles, take a letter'
So let me take you through the rest of the process......

September 2nd -
I finished the seams, ironed them all in place

September 3rd -
I sew the zip in by hand. I chose a nifty red, to add a flash of colour and to match my shiny red lining. I also completed the pockets, which look great!
I cut out the lining and sew the seams. Here's a picture of me ironing it all, looking my least glamourous with pincurls and no make-up!
September 4th -
I sew the pockets onto the skirt and place some vintage buttons I found in a junk shop on to the flaps -

Pocket placed on skirt
Next, the lining is placed inside and sewn over the zip. I sew the waistband together, then pin it to the skirt and sew it in place.

September 6th -
I try on the skirt - lookin' good! I have a special facing for the hem, which I pin in place and then sew. 

September 10th - 
Spend what seems like hours sewing the hem in place. I quickly sew the lining hem, and then the final touch - 2 hooks on the waistband.

So, here's the surprise - 

Remember the Union Jack fabric you saw in part 1? Well, this is what I did with it! As I said, I have to be all sober and grown up for work, but it gives me a little kick to know I've got all sorts of colour and what-not going on underneath. I also lined the pockets with it.

Hem detail - close up
I wore the skirt for the first time today, and had several comments on it, even more when they saw the hem!

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Sober work skirt, with a surprise! - Part 1

August 15th -
I work in a fancy-schmancy department store, where we all have to wear black. It's not so bad, but can get a bit boring. I'm tired of some of my work clothes, and decide I need a new skirt.

I've got some fabric lying around which I bought on a whim from a local  market stall for the bargain price of £3. (This stall is brilliant - most of the stuff starts at 50p)
50p stall, Ridley Rd Market, London

Next, I have to decide what to make. I have enough fabric to make something full, maybe with pockets, which is always useful for work. I've often seen pictures of skirts from the 1950's and 60's where the pockets stand away from thr skirt, and manage to dig out a pattern from my collection which does this:

Skirt with stand-away pockets

Next, I compare the measurements of the skirt to what I want. I think the pattern dates from the mid to late 1950's, when skirts were often worn much longer, around mid-calf. I don't really want it that long, and I don't have enough fabric, so I fold the pattern to a reasonable length, pin it to the fabric, and cut it out:

Pattern pieces after cutting out
The Union Jack fabric is going to be the surprise - all will be revealed later......

August 31 -
Start pinning everything together.

September 1 -
Go get some red lining and a zip from my old favourite, Dalston Mill fabrics, on Ridley Rd Market