Monday, 18 August 2014

A toned down bow blouse

I recently had a couple of precious mornings all to myself i.e. no children to entertain. This was my last chance for garment sewing until September, so I chose what I was going to make carefully. I wanted an easy top for my holiday, it had to have minimal fastenings (ideally no zips or buttons), a fitted shape and be made in a lightweight fabric for wearing at the beach.

I trawled through my pattern collection looking for inspiration, before finally settling for Simplicity 2154 - a sixties style bow blouse which I first made here.  Now, you may think something Miss Moneypenny would have in her wardrobe would be highly unsuitable for holiday wear, but stay with me. As a casual holiday top, there's a lot to be said against using this pattern: it's quite high necked, it looks formal, it has a ginormous bow and if you're not careful, you could end up looking a bit too 'Dog Toby'. Looking like 'Dog Toby' is an expression my mum and I use if something looks a bit too frilly and ridiculous around the neck, named after the fine, ruff-wearing dog from Punch and Judy. Moving on… you'll be relieved to know that I never intended to keep the original bow on the front. I might have a thing for bow blouses, but even I realised that a giant one would be just too Dog Toby for the beach!

Let's talk about what was right about the pattern instead. What drew me to it was the fact that I managed to get away with not inserting a side zip the first time I made it. It has bust darts and contour darts to the front and back, so although it's roomy, there's enough shaping there to still make it look fitted. It also has cute keyhole details at the front and back neckline which I thought would be a nice feature for holiday wear.  I wanted it to be a quick make, so as well as the bow, I also decided against including the collar - it would just be a simple shell top with added keyhole details. 

It sewed together like a dream but when I tried it on, the neck was too high. It wasn't unnaturally high, just not as casual as I'd hoped. I decided to lower the front neckline and have the front fasten with a thin bias binding bow - I'd still get a bit of bow blouse action, just not of the Mrs Slocombe variety. I lowered the front neckline edge by about an inch and drew a curve to join it up with the rest of the neckline. Because the neckline is finished with self bias binding, I simply cut out double the amount of neck binding and let the remainder hang loose from the centre front edges. This extra neck binding became my bow. Simple!

Back detail: fastened at the neck with a  button and handworked thread loop
The fabric is a Japanese cotton lawn from the same selection at Abakhan that my lemon lawn came from. I was delighted to receive a gift voucher from Mr Will Abakhan himself as a thank you for inadvertently helping to shift copious amounts of lemon lawn fabric! The voucher burnt a hole in my pocket for all of five minutes before I blew the whole lot on….more cotton lawn! I couldn't resist, it's so soft and lightweight, absolutely perfect for hot weather clothing. I chose two metres of a gorgeous red and turquoise rose print, and as the blouse only requires a front piece, a back piece and a few strips of bias binding, I still have nearly 1.5 metres left to make a dress with next year. Woohoo! I didn't bother underlining it this time as I deliberately wanted it to be as light as possible.

It took me one morning to cut out and sew the blouse together, and another to fiddle with the neckline, so it was still a quick, easy make. It teams up really well with my vast collection of red and denim skirts, shorts and capri trousers too, hoorah! Thank you for the generous gift voucher Abakhan - last minute holiday top sorted!  

I'd quite like to plan ahead next year and make a few more holiday tops or camisoles. I've got my eye on the new Silk Cami pattern from Sew Over It, which looks promising, plus there's some great inspiration in Katie's recent Camisole Crazy post, but if you know of any other suitable top patterns (preferably without zips or buttons) please share them in the comments. Happy Monday! x

Thursday, 14 August 2014

OWOP Guest Post from Scruffy Badger Time

Today is the first of three guest posts written by sewing bloggers especially for One Week, One Pattern. We kick off with Winnie from Scruffy Badger Timewoop, woop! Winnie is an amazing seamstress. with a colourful and classy hand-stitched wardrobe to match her warm and vibrant personality. I'm lucky enough to have met her countless times over the years and now consider her a true friend (amazing fact: my husband Jon use to deliver the paper to Winnie's house as a teenage paperboy!!!!) When she's not running marathons or trying out a new wig, Winnie is a dab hand at accessorising with scarves. Here's what she has to say on the subject.

Have Scarves Will Style
When Jane asked me to write a guest post on style as part of OWOP I didn’t flounder on the concept of articulating my own personal style, which is haphazard to say the least and subject to all sorts of whims, occasions and!  I immediately thought  accessorise".  I mean if you want to get more mileage out of an outfit during OWOP, accessories can be a lifesaver. And for me that means accessorizing with scarves primarily.  There have been so many style icons and stylists along the way that have extolled the virtues of the right accessories to transform an otherwise sad outfit into one that is starlet fit, or just plain classy.  So it is nothing new. But this is about One Week, One Pattern and as with many of our online challenges this can often bring insights and new ways to looks at things you’ve made.  And if there’s a message through this post, it is to say “don’t forget about your accessories! 

So I’ve put a few combinations together to show how I use scarves, Scruffy Badger-style through lots of snaps of clothes I’ve made carefully arranged on my bedroom floor, hopefully having smoothed out any storage creases!!   (But not all – oops!)
I choose to wear scarves to:

- Bring some pep to an outfit that is made up of a lot of solid neutral colours

- Pick out colours in the pattern of a skirt to ‘finish’ an outfit

-       Add some jauntiness & interest – it’s amazing what a polka dot scarf can do when paired with some nautical stripes;

-       The right scarf (with a more solid pattern) can also bring a touch of harmony to combining prints even;

      - Raise a neckline that is a bit low or chilly;

- Change the shape of a neckline to suit my face shape – eg a boatneck / slash neckline doesn’t suit me so well, but creating a focus on a scarf to draw a round neckline suits my face shape much better.

I like to wear a scarf around my neck, primarily, but from there it varies.  Depending on the neckline of the garment I am wearing, I might:

-       Tie it around my neck, as a strip/band – almost like a very wide choker;

   - Tie it as above but with a cute bow to the side;

-     Folded into a triangle then tied into a knot at the front of the garment’s neck edge;

I do not like too much volume though and I tend to take larger scarves, fold them into a triangle, then roll along the long edge (a bit like a cub scout scarf!) to get the volume of fabric under control and therefore able to be tied in a bow, or wrapped around itself. 

I’ve messed around with different combinations in these photos, but look here at how different scarves look with the same outfit

Most of these scarves are RTW – some vintage even, but I have made my own too, using precious fabric leftovers and extending their appearance and wear in another form.  I have made a couple of Brigitte scarves from Tilly’s “Love at First Stitch”- one of these and its many ways to wear shown here.  But jumped on this opportunity and quickly posted a tutorial on my blog for using your overlocker’s rolled hem to make a natty scarf.  So if you like the idea of accessorizing, why not have a go at making your own? 

Wow Winnie, I think that must be the definite guide to accessorising with scarves, THANK YOU! I love how the outfits are styled too, and have to agree - a polka dot scarf paired with nautical stripes really is a winning combo!  I hope Winnie's words of scarf-wearing wisdom have given you some pointers for OWOP and using scarves as a wonder accessory. Look out for another OWOP styling instalment next week. x

Monday, 11 August 2014

Tie-less Miette

Don't get too excited, there isn't anything new or shiny to see. I've just fiddled about with my Miette skirt to make it more wearable. I did this with a couple of skirts last year and gave one of them (the grey floral one) a whole new lease of life - in fact I'm wearing it as I type this! Sadly the green one still didn't do much for me, so was brutally culled from my wardrobe.

This year I decided to tackle my Tilly and the Buttons Miette skirt. I made it over a year ago but have only worn it once or twice because I just couldn't get on with the big bow at the waistband. It's a lovely bow and all that, just too big, which means I can't ever wear anything untucked as it gets in the way. In fact before I set to work on my Miette skirt I wore it for a while to see if I'd change my mind about it. Within minutes I'd caught the bloody ties in the cutlery drawer which sealed the deal - the bow had to go!

Before: lovely but impractical bow

After: not as pretty but infinitely more wearable
Some clever stitchers dispensed with the bow and made their skirts tie-less right from the start (Lauren here and Fiona here) but having already made my Miette, I had to do it retrospectively. Despite my whingeing, it was a pretty simple refashion. I cut the ties to the shorter length I wanted, turned the ends in on themselves and slip stitched them closed. I then made two buttonholes in the ties and sewed two buttons onto the waistband. Easy peasy. I now have a simple tab feature on the waistband which I much prefer to the bow.

I also decided to wear the skirt a bit lower than when I first made it. Looking back at the photos in the original post (in which I look deranged) I'm wearing it too high to be comfortable, plus I don't think it's particularly flattering. Having it sit lower on my hips makes it much easier to wear and it gives the illusion of lengthening the skirt too, which it was in need of.

Before: worn high at the waist

After: worn lower down

My only regret is that I didn't get my finger out and do this earlier in the summer - but that's my own fault for being a lazy arse! I'd better get some wear out of it whilst the sun's still shining. Anybody else given their handmade garments a new lease of life recently? x

Yay! Love those tabs

Sunday, 10 August 2014

The Polished Button giveaway winner

Big thanks to everybody who entered The Polished Button summer giveaway. The winner is Tatiana who wins a metre of this fab cotton sailboats fabric...

…and a set of four hand covered red and white striped buttons

Wahay! Congratulations Tatiana, please email me your address and I'll arrange for your prize to be sent to you. Thanks again to everybody who entered, and to Ruth at The Polished Button for such a great giveaway. x

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

One Week, One Pattern: graphs and stuff

Well, I promised you sub-standard graphs for OWOP and that's exactly what you're about to see! Quite a few of you are still making up your minds about which pattern to use (which is totally fine by the way, it's not a decision to be taken lightly), so these stats are based on what people have signed up for so far. You wouldn't believe how long these bits of rubbish took me to create, and they're still not perfect. But hopefully they'll give you an idea of which patterns and garments you're all choosing to work with.

Amongst the pattern companies, Colette is the clear winner with about 15% of you choosing to use their patterns. The chart below shows all companies that have had their patterns chosen more than once. Not shown are a long list of new indie companies whose names only cropped up once - I just couldn't fit them on the graph!

The one big difference since the last OWOP is that far more independent pattern companies now exist. Last time, Colette was still the dominant pattern company, with relative newcomer Sewaholic the only other independent pattern company in the top ten. Things have changed quite dramatically this year, with 57% of chosen patterns being from independent companies. What I refer to as Commercial Patterns (Simplicity, New Look, Butterick, Vogue, McCalls and Burda) represent 29%, with a fair few of you (8%) choosing to use patterns that come from books. A handful are using a self drafted pattern and just two people (myself included) will be using a vintage pattern.

When it comes to type of garment chosen, there's a big shake up in this category too. As you'd expect, the majority of you have chosen a top, blouse or shirt pattern as they offer the most choice for styling. The skirt is still relatively popular, and just a few of you have gone for trousers or shorts. I think if I had a go-to trouser pattern I'd be tempted to choose trousers too, but I haven't quite found it yet. The big surprise though, is that dress patterns have proved to be so popular.  The thing I love about dresses is that you have a whole outfit in one go and obviously lots of you (34%) feel the same way too! What's great to see is that there are lots of popular indie dress patterns cropping up, such as the Colette Moneta, Kitschy Coo's Lady Skater dress and the Emery dress by Christine Haynes. Tried and tested designs from the larger companies still remain popular - it's nice to see Simplicity 2444 getting a couple of mentions too! 

There you go - FASCINATING STUFF! My charts may not be very professional looking but I can give any statistician a good run for their money when it comes to boring you rigid!  There's still a month to go before One Week, One Pattern kicks off, so if you fancy it (and who wouldn't after reading that?!) then go and sign yourself up on this post. We'd love to have you on board. x

Monday, 4 August 2014

Weaving Destination Fashion Show

If you read this blog post by Debi on My Happy Sewing Place, you'll have heard about the forthcoming Weaving Destination event at the Edinburgh Festival. Weaving Destination is a fabric social enterprise that Debi co-founded with Javita Narang almost two years ago (read more about it here), so it's a fabulous achievement that their fabrics are now going to be part of an exclusive fashion show at this year's Edinburgh Festival! How amazing is that?!

A call was put out for people to make garments or products from Weaving Destination fabrics, which  will be showcased at the fashion show. As well as garment sewing, the competition is also open to craft and houseware items which will be sold on the Weaving Destination craft stall at the event. This is the part where I get involved! After the initial announcement, Debi contacted me to see if I'd be able to help out by making something for the event. Unfortunately, the timing wasn't great as it was approaching the end of the school year - once my children break up for the summer, my sewing time grinds to a halt. Realistically, I didn't have time to make something for the fashion show, but I am a dab hand at making things for craft fairs, so that's what I did! Debi sent me some fabrics and I set to work.

Cushions and reversible tote bags...

…zipped purses…

…and covered notebooks…

All items were made using Weaving Destination fabrics. I would have liked to have made more, but just ran out of time. If you live in the Edinburgh area, why not support Debi and Javita's work by going along to the Fashion Event? It's being held on Thursday 14th August from 18.00 to 19.30 and you can purchase tickets and find further information here.

I'm so thrilled to have been able to help with this initiative, even if it was in a tiny way. It was a pleasure to be involved and I hope Debi and Javita raise a TON of cash for Weaving Destination. Good luck ladies and don't forget to go and support them if you're in the area! x

Friday, 1 August 2014

The Polished Button summer giveaway

The sun is shining over the UK - FACT! To celebrate this phenomenon, I've teamed up with The Polished Button to bring you a rather lovely summer giveaway. If you're not familiar with it, The Polished Button is a one-stop shop for vintage-inspired sewing. They stock a great selection of vintage and retro-style dressmaking fabrics and patterns like this 1940's shirt dress (swoon!)

Or this 1970's shirt pattern, view 3 in particular. In fact, see the girl modelling view 3?  Well it is, in fact, ME!  

She also stocks all kinds of buttons, including Liberty covered ones!

Owner Ruth kindly let me choose something from the shop for a giveaway, and as there's been a lot of sailor talk on this blog recently (here and here) I decided to take the nautical route. So one lucky winner will receive a metre of this fab cotton sailboats fabric

and a set of four hand covered red and white striped buttons.

I can think of SO many things to make with that combination!

To enter the giveaway all you have to do is take a look at The Polished Button website and leave a comment on this post telling me what your favourite product is. The giveaway is open internationally and closes at midnight GMT on Friday 8th August. Please make sure you leave your email address if it's not linked to your Blogger profile so I can contact you if you're the winner. 

Thank you to The Polished Button for the giveaway and good luck everybody!


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