Monday, 14 September 2015

Ginger Cords modelled by a ginger, of course!

Hi hi hi there people!

I am very pleased to have finally finished these. I was getting 'UFO (unfinished object, for those not in the know) guilt' as I started these back in May, but then abandoned them when the weather perked up, and for some reason returning to them wasn't so appealing even though there were only a few steps left to completion. Now that Autum's coming on I thought it was high time to get these done, and I'm so glad I have! One of my stumbling blocks was that I have an overwhelming fear of waistbands- I can never get them looking neat and they're tricky to fit on me as my back dips in but my belly sticks out. I probably need to try a curved waistband on everything- but that's a struggle for another day.

So here they are- my Ginger jeans! These are view A (low rise and stovepipe leg). I prefer view B (high rise and skinny leg), but thought best to try this version first as the corduroy I used doesn't have any stretch. These are made up 'straight out of the envelope' (or fresh off the printer, if you prefer, as it is a PDF-only pattern) with no fitting adjustments at all- I anticipated making a few but just wanted to see what was what first. And I have to say these fit pretty well!

The low rise isn't the most flattering on my 'muffin top' (see aforementioned waistband woes) so I think I'd probably go for the high-waist version (view B) next, but keep the stovepipe legs from view A if going for another non-stretch fabric. I have some denim from my boyfriend's old jeans I'm hoping to recycle for another test pair! These are also a great replacement for a pair of black skinny cords that I wore to death when I was at uni. They weren't even mine- I nicked them off a friend's boyfriend who'd bought them for Halloween for his 'emo' costume! Does it make me a bit emo that I loved them so much and am glad to have them back in my life in a new incarnation?

Can you spot any errors on these? I accidentally put my coin pocket on the wrong side! Whoops . Not a big one but I'll try and avoid that next time, it wasn't a deliberately subversive act. The other thing that does stick in my craw a little more is that my back pockets aren't totally level. I'm so annoyed about this as I quickly basted them on, thought they were OK, but then abandoned the project for a while. When going back I remembered that the positioning seemed fine and sewed them down properly- it wasn't til I got to riveting stage that I realised the outer corners on either side were not quite level! I don't think I'd ever have noticed without the rivets as the pockets are pretty well camouflaged in the corduroy, but luckily the rotund shape of my rump means it's almost impossible to see both rivets at the same time (unless standing at a fair distance) so a layman is unlikely to notice. Something to be more careful on next time for sure, especially if I go with contrasting topstitching thread! Another thing I might change/ read the instructions more carefully about is the french seaming of the pockets- I did mine so it was a clean edge on the outside, but this means the fold is on the inside which is uncomfortable when I put my hands in my pockets.

Overall I'm really pleased with these though- and it's nice that they fit pretty well straightaway, as I was a bit disappointed with the fit of the Ultimate Trousers which had me downhearted about my trouser-making abilities. I think maybe the style of the Ultimate Trousers just doesn't work for my shape! The smooth lines don't really hide much in the way of sins, whereas having a bit more structure over my lower abdomen makes me look and feel less of a porker. I might have a go at Gertie's Cigarette Pants next and see how they turn out- they'll be a quicker hit than jeans! I am keen to get going with more Gingers soon though- but maybe after another quick project or two as they are quite labour-intensive (but in a really satisfying way).

Another bonus of my cord jeans is that they were pretty much free to make- the corduroy is something I inherited from my mum's stash, the zip is from my boyfriend's gran's stash (although is does have a slight tendency to slip, so I do have to be careful about 'flying low'! Definitely going to use a new zip for my next pair) and I didn't bother with topstitching thread as I didn't think it would show up against the cord pile so just went with all purpose black thread that I had anyway. I did buy new jeans buttons and rivets though as I didn't want to use up the nice ones I got in with my cone denim package. The 'Williams' brand rivets I got from Simply Fabrics in Brixton, and came with very handy hole-cutting and rivet-pressing tools which hopefully can be reused for the fancy rivets too! And you may recognise the pocket and waistband lining fabric from the Staple dress I made for Holly.

Oh, and yes, I'm ginger! This is an 'interim' colour- the salon is going to fix it next week, just had to wait for the scabs on my head from the first couple of rounds of chemical blasting to heal. Oh, the things we do for fashion...Hopefully by the time of my next photos I'll be the blonde I was aiming to be (and hopefully not bald!).

Until next time,

NorseOtter xxx

Saturday, 5 September 2015

Graduation Dress: Tilly and the Buttons' 'Lilou' for Holly

Hello again!

I said I hadn't been totally idle despite my lack of blogging in my last post and it's true, my sewing machine has barely seen a rest and could probably do with a good clean! Here's my 'graduation' project from Tilly and The Buttons' 'Love at First Stitch' book, and it feels incredibly satisfying to have got to the finishing line. Here are my previous projects (the only project I never managed to blog was the Margot PJ bottoms as they were a very rushed-job gift): Brigitte, Delphine, Clemence, Megan and Mimi versions one and two

I can't promise that I'll stop banging on about this book though as I'm really keen to recreate that Megan dress that ended up too small, and in the last 'Your Makes' post on Tilly's blog there was a very covetable midi version of the Clemence skirt that I'd like to imitate! However, I plan to make things more interesting for upcoming posts by going back to tackling trousers and jeans as the Autumn descends. And there's my long-neglected Vintage Pattern Pledge- I've achieved a grand total of zero makes towards that this year! 

Anyway here's the final hurdle- the Lilou dress! To be honest it wasn't that much of a hurdle- I'm surprised I stuck out so long before making it as I've made more complex dresses in the past, including the Elisalex (which I've made twice, versions one and two) which isn't too dissimilar in style other than the Elisalex includes optional sleeves and the skirt is box-pleated. The instructions for attaching the bodice lining for the Lilou give a neater finish though so I'm glad I've tried my hand at both, and I'd probably apply some of the Lilou finishes to my next Elisalex. The instructions for the Lilou also included a tutorial to get crisp pleats- I skimmed over the instructions for this however thinking I knew what I was about, and missed a step accidentally. As a result my pleats could have been better- seeing these pictures I notice a tendency for the centre pleats to taper downwards rather than kick out as they should (sorry Holly!). 

I can't remember what size I made this in but I stuck to one size with this rather than grading between two as I had done with the previous dress I made for Holly (although that was a much more straightforward design in terms of fitting). If I'd had time to do a proper fitting process I think I would have gone down a size in the bodice, or at least made a swayback alteration as you can see there is a bit too much fabric at in the back bodice in the photo above. I would also maybe increase the length of the shoulder straps or lower the armholes a smidge. As it was I made everything up straight from the pattern and surprised her with the dress (she knew I was making her something so at least I had the measurements to work with) so it was a bit of a risk, but I figure this will fit at least as well as an off-the-rack dress. 

Overall I'm pretty pleased with it, although it's in a very light cotton so may not be wearable for too much longer this year as the season change is kicking in. Fingers crossed for a bit of September sun...It's a really pretty style and I can see myself in one, although I'll wait for next summer, unless I have a go at it in a warmer fabric and try attaching the Elisalex sleeves... Holly and I will just have to liaise about who's wearing the Lilou when!

Have you made the Lilou yet, or ever felt the joy of completing a sewing book? 

Until next time,

NorseOtter xxx

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Mimi in Damselflies

Hello everyone!

As usual another long blogging break- life is always getting in the way! I've just been through a pretty major change- I've started a new job, which is quite a big deal for me as I was in my old post for over six years. Phew! I was given some very sweet leaving gifts, which included pressing tools to help with my sewing. So, in order to be able to put them to use straightaway, sweet little blouse Mimi skipped right to the head of the queue! This is also a bonus in that Mimi totally counts as appropriate workwear.

Anyway, back to Mimi. I had to eke this shirt out of 1.5m so the print placement isn't perfect- I think I managed to line up the horizontal damselfly rows on the front (didn't have enough to be too careful about the sides or sleeves) but sadly there's a bit of overlap on the button band so it's not perfect. But meh, it looks pretty good to me! 

While this print screamed Mimi at me in the shop and I think it is a lovely match, unfortunately the fabric is a little heavier than the pattern was intended for, so it does come out a little stiff. 

In this version I much prefer it tucked in rather than untucked- but a floatier fabric would do the trick I'm sure. Sorry for all the pictures here- it's for comparison!

As it was an impulse purchase I didn't know exactly how much I needed, so while I just about managed to get it out of 1.5m some of the facings are pieced, and a lot of them are also cut off-grain as there simply wasn't enough to cut everything correctly so I had to prioritise what was on the outside! 

I don't think this has compromised the fit though and everything seems to be lying properly in place. I did also make some other minor mistakes- I french-seamed the sides with a bit too much seam allowance on the first pass so have a minor case of 'punk seams' (when there's a tiny mohawk-like fringe that shows on the outside). If you look closely you'll also see that the sleeves are finished with a binding instead of a hidden facing. This was just pure stupidity, I attached the facing the wrong way around and couldn't bear to unpick, so improvised! 

This is my second Mimi, my first was for a friend and sadly I haven't seen her wear it- the sleeves are a little tight. I made up the same size for myself as I had the pieces traced and thought the ease would accommodate my bust because of the gathered front, and although it looks OK I think next time I would size up as it is a tiny bit tight and the sleeves are also a bit small on my bulging biceps (AKA bingo wings) and it would be a bit more flattering if it glided more over the hips. I don't seem to have learnt from my Megan experience about going for the right size! 

Anyway I had lots of fun using my pressing tools whenever possible- everything was pressed on the tailor's ham or sausage- whether it needed to be or not! I definitely feel I got a more professional-looking collar from using this, and look forward to when it's warm enough to make another Mimi for myself in a floatier fabric (and larger size).

So I may not have been writing, but I have been sewing- I've now 'graduated' from Tilly and The Buttons' Love at First Stitch book, but will share the final project, the Lilou dress, with you soon! It's taken me a while to get photos for this project too, as the weather's been too naff to get a decent shot outside. But at least I'm back on the wagon with the Ginger Jeans- so hopefully they'll be appearing shortly too!

What are you working on? Has the weather forced your hand with any projects too?

NorseOtter xx