Saturday, 29 March 2014

Homemade Wardrobe On Tour!

Hello! It's a glorious sunny day in London today and I'm just about to go get stuck into it while it lasts, but Angus has just posted up his Paris snaps from our mini-break last weekend so I wanted to share a couple to show off my new Elisalex and my Anna and Charlotte flaneuring around.

First up- here's Elisalex! This make took me a little longer than I was expecting and is actually not quite finished- I still need to stitch down the bodice lining, but as I was hemming late into the night on the day before heading off on holiday I decided that I could leave that part off for now. The hem's not very flat either so will probably have to re-do that at some point too!

Here's the bodice. I did an FBA following the tutorial, and while my toile came out kind of alright, in the actual dress a few fit issues have come up- I think the apex is a bit low, there's a little bit of neckline gaping, and actually I think the waist is a bit big. 

Next time I think I will grade up from a size 12 (this time I did a 14, my measurements were between sizes so I decided to go up to be safe) as the skirt does seem a bit big on me too and can look a bit unflattering and bulky, as you can see from the photo below of me posing with a cannon in the Hotel des Invalides.... 

Although I used upholstery fabric the skirt still doesn't seem to keep the tulip shape very well on its own, but maybe having the right waist size next time will help so there's not excess fabric at the top that isn't filled out and supported by my body. I love this crazy Italian pharmaceutical advertisement print though! I didn't have any idea what to do with the pattern but I think it's come out pretty well, even on the bodice which was a bit of an afterthought when I realised I wasn't able to centre on the advert I really wanted to feature- a very cute gramophone. Oh well, the gramophone has plenty of other appearances. 

I also wished I'd made pockets, as I decided to make the long version of the skirt to make the most of the print which gives me 'restricted stride', so for a full day of walking around Paris I was constantly having to hitch my skirt up to my knees so I could keep up the pace!  Having pockets might have made the hitching a little easier. 

I realise I don't have a full dress photo, as it was a bit too chilly to be baring my arms outside! I'll get a full length shot up soon, I'm actually planning on wearing my new Elisalex out to a party tonight where I think she'll look a bit more elegant with some heels perhaps. Then you can judge if my invisible zip insertion is getting any better! I do like my new Elisalex, but I am a little tempted to maybe make her a little more wearable (and possibly more flattering) by shortening the skirt. What do you think?

Just for fun here's my daffodil Charlotte in the gardens of Versailles, and below in the Hall of Mirrors (blending in with the opulence, I like to think!). All the heavy brocades and damasks in the Chateau de Versailles did have me inspired to make more Charlottes and Elisalexes in some seriously OTT luxe fabric. Will just have to tweak my fitting issues on Elisalex first!

And finally here's my Horse Anna, my most wearable creation so far (although as I've got more experience I realise even this dress isn't fitted quite right- I've put the bust darts too high! It's not very noticeable though). 

For my next creation I think I'm going to make up a Plaintain, as I haven't made any basics yet and it will be my first go with jersey and with a twin needle. After that I'm desperate to get straight back into making ridiculous dresses with those lovely Sew La-Di-Da patterns that my mother bought me, unless I fall in love with jersey and make a Lady Skater

Unfortunately there was one thing I was planning to get in Paris that I never had time for- I was hoping to find a shop stocking Deer and Doe Patterns and buy the Chataigne Shorts (they would be ideal to replace my tatty burlesque lion costume shorts, as well as darn cute or the summer). I'm sure I would have been tempted by the new Anemone skirt and all the lovely dresses though so maybe it's a good thing I didn't find a shop as I have so many things waiting to be made, and when I finally manage to move into my new flat I'll be getting a stack of vintage patterns that have been in storage. 

So many projects in my queue! What are you making?

NorseOtter xxx

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Speaking too soon...

Hello folks! I'm just gearing up the energy to get back to working on my Elisalex Dress, which is taking me much longer than I thought as my last couple of makes were so speedy! However I think this is definitely an intermediate make and perhaps a bit too challenging still for me. I've done an FBA following the tutorial on the sew-a-long (which I have to confess I found really confusing as the example pattern pieces were the reverse way round from what they would have been if you'd cut them straight out or traced through, which really threw me). 

I'm not sure if I've really done it right, but I took the trouble to make a muslin and this seems to fit OK. Now I'm just getting the guts to sew up the real thing, it's all pinned to within an inch of its life and has been waiting for me for about a week!

So what have I been doing in the meantime? I've given into temptation and bought the Perfect Pattern Parcel #1, because I've been eyeing up the Lady Skater for a while and now all the blogs are full of it again as other folks are getting their mitts on the parcel. So now I have another five projects on my list! 

I've also been taking advantage of my free cinema privileges and watching films- I saw THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL on Thursday which was beautifully choreographed and lovingly animated. I love the art direction of Wes Anderson films. The plot was bittersweet and very charming too, but not as moving as THE LIFE AQUATIC or THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS. Very good though, I recommend. I also saw UNDER THE SKIN on Friday which I'm still mulling over. A haunting and beautiful watch with very atmospheric sound design and Scarlett Johansson is as captivating as ever, and a film that raised a lot of questions. Is it about the upcoming Scottish referendum? A comment on celebrity? One I'll be reading more about and continuing to think about for a while.

If you happen to see GRAND BUDAPEST at The Ritzy you'll also see my handiwork- staff are wearing some old '80s jackets which I refashioned into traditional usher uniforms- here's a photo from the event they were originally created for. 

And, to cap off my little foray into pattern accumulation,  my lovely mama went and bought me a further two new fabulous patterns from the Knitting and Stitching Show which was a lovely surprise! I think she went and visited the By Hand London ladies but as she knows I've been working through a stash of those she bought me not one but two vintage-inspired dress patterns from Sew La-Di-Da. I'm really excited about these as they are so gorgeous, I just hope I have the skills to do them justice. 

Here's the 1952 French Gypsy, which I'd love to make up in a blue and white gingham. 

And here's their newest pattern, a 1940s Dior-inspired wonder called 'Sweetheart'. I think I'd go classic with this and make it in something plain black, matte with a bit of weight. 

 The patterns have a little booklet with visual instructions and some black and white photography which looks decent enough, but I love the hand-holding of having a sew-a-long that breaks down the tasks for you and tackles everything in a fun, informal tone like the By Hand ones. Plus they always chuck in a few variations and I love the pattern hacks that people think of, they really open out the possibilities of a pattern! Has anybody else made these up at all? I'd love to see how they look in real life on what spins people have taken on them.

So, back to sewing if I want to have my Elisalex dress finished in time to wear to Paris, which is where I'm off to for a mini-break at the end of the week! I also have to repair a seam that's come undone at the bottom of my Charlotte skirt, which I've been wearing to death already. 

Hope you'll all had lovely weekends and been more productive than I have!

NorseOtter xx

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Daffodil Charlotte


I finished this last weekend (was a pretty quick Sunday make, with just a couple of tiny finishing tasks on Monday evening) but have only found time to get it photographed today, which is a real shame as we've had beautiful blue skies pretty much most of the week, but it's been pretty grey today.

 Yesterday would have been perfect as it was St David's day and this skirt makes me look like a human daffodil, but oh well. I was originally intending to make it in a neutral shade, but when I saw this mustard fabric for only £1.99 a metre in Mermaid Fabrics (on Mare Street in Hackney) I couldn't resist. 

So I'm steadily making my way through my xmas stash of By Hand London patterns, and am going to get tracing on my next this evening- a sleeveless Elisalex in vintage-style newspaper advertising print (if that makes any sense). 

This is the Charlotte skirt, and I love how it's turned out. As I mentioned it came together pretty quickly, but as usual I did make a couple of little mistakes. I decided to do French seams but only remembered on one side (which again had a touch of the 'punk seam' mohawk effect on the outside, still need practice).

To the side..
And to the other side...
 I was tracing my pattern onto baking parchment again which isn't that easy to see through so cut the waistband too small first time, but luckily noticed and recut before it was too late (although this one looks like it might fold over too much, as you might be able to tell from the back view shot below). I also managed to bend my sewing machine needle attaching the ruffles! And I think I just about cut the skirt the right length to allow some movement, but stairs are still a little challenging. 

Here's the back view. Promise I'm not sticking my bum out, it's just like that. I hated it so much as a teenager, but that's before I discovered skirts like these. 
I think the fit is pretty decent, but the waistband does tend to fold up when I'm sitting down so maybe I'll make it ever so slightly looser next time and add some interfacing to stiffen it. I'm not an expert on fitting but maybe I could also make the darts slightly longer at the front, as it seems like the front of the skirt puffs out a little under my belly before being pulled back into shape over my hips. Do let me know if that isn't how to fix the problem...

Next skill will be making a lining so that you can't see the tail of my shirt tucked in through the skirt for the next one! My zip's still not invisible, but it's getting better right?

This was such a fast and fun make for me-  I've already worn a couple of times (and can think of loads of other things to pair with), and I'm a bit smug that by now I'm making things faster than I can blog them, which is great progress for me when I think back on my posts that contained nothing more than frustration when I was in the process of making my first dress.

Off to make more stuff now, hope everyone's been enjoying what feels like the start of Spring and have had lovely weekends!

NorseOtter x