The Acton Dress: part 1 – pattern testing

Hurrah, The Acton Dress has arrived!

I am sure you know by now that I share a studio with Emily of In the Folds, the designer of the Acton.  It has been in the works for some time and I have seen the evolution of this pattern from it’s humble beginnings to the glorious dress you see today.

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Emily & I at the Acton photoshoot last month

Back in April, Emily asked me if I would like to test this for her, of course I agreed.  I wanted to test view B which is the wrap skirt option. I knew that with my mum-tum this option would be the perfect cover up. It would remove the need to wear my ‘suck ’em up’ pants!  (Before you say it, I know my stomach is not enormous, but it’s my main bugbear and I feel a bit self conscious about it!)

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I started out testing a straight size B but I soon realised that this size would be too big in the bodice. My issue isn’t the boob size, it’s the depth.  I am very short in the body, which means my boobs don’t actually sit where most sit, they are essentially higher.  So for my first proper toile I made up a straight size A, not sure why I decided to go down an entire size!

There was a ‘new to me’ element in this pattern. I have never sewn princess panels before, how is this possible?  I think it’s because I often associate them with vintage style frocks, but with the racer back and the thin straps I think the design is more contemporary. I was surprised how easy the princess panels were to place together and this is where my tailors ham came in very useful!

The wrap skirt is very unusual. From a construction perspective I had no idea how this would ever fit together.  There is a moment when you are attaching the skirt to the bodice at the side seams and thinking ‘have I done something wrong here?’ and ‘this will never work!’  It does work!*  I have to say I have never come across anything like it before.  A little bit of sewing magic happens right before your very eyes.

*(the instructions are now fuller in this area, more details have been added).

You can see from the photos below what I mean.  The skirt is essentially a giant square.

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Flashing my giant square!
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The fabric was gifted to me by my lovely friend Jen.  A good choice as it is lightweight and has a really nice drape which works well with this design.
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Yes, my tum sticks out more than my boobs!
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I love the wrap feature & the bodice, it makes me feel confident to wear a dress that shows a bit of skin!
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Notice to pulling around the boob area

This was a good toile but after wearing it I could see there were a few issues with the fit.  It’s just a bit too tight. I had initially reduced the seam allowance on the side seams and at the zip to give me some breathing space but still it was not quite right.

There is some ‘back fat’ splurge going on (not shown for obvious reasons).  You can also see in the picture above that there is some pulling under the arm pit towards the boob, indicating it’s too small. I wanted the wrap to meet in the middle too and it doesn’t quite get there. Finally, I cut the hem too short, I was a little overzealous with the scissors.

But this really would have been a wearable toile if I hadn’t burnt a dirty great hole in the back of it when giving it a final press.  Tears were shed.

I enjoyed the pattern testing process and I have big love for this dress.  It’s a great dress to try out new skills, especially with the unique construction.  It made me determined to sort out my fit issues as I had a bigger plan up my sleeve.

…to be continued…

 

 

 

 

The Refashioners 2016: Jeans


It’s that time of year again, where Portia of Makery opens up The Refashioners 2016 to the community.  I am part of said ‘community’ (as is everyone else BTW) so I am taking part.  This is the brief this year.

The theme is Jeans only: (Not denim jackets, skirts, shirts etc) Because the specific challenge with this is the scarcity of fabric and all the hardware and heavy seaming you’ll need to work around. The majority of your finished project must have come from the source garment (ie your jeans). Other than that anything goes. Use additional fabric and haberdashery to your hearts content, as long as you turn them from something you don’t wear, into something you do wear…or use,  ok?! 🙂

If you don’t know about this challenge then I suggest you hop over and have a read.  To kick start this challenge, Portia enlists a bunch of uber talented sewers to give it ‘there all.’ You will see a wide variety of designs, a cool and eclectic mix, from wiggle dresses and kimonos to tops and jackets. There are some brilliant pieces, but my favourite has to be Joost’s project, err yes, Joost is a man.  Quite a brilliant and talented man at that.  He had me at ‘hello’.

So, to cut up a pair of jeans is a big thing.  From an environmental perspective they are a huge consumer of water (among other things).  Something we must be really mindful of, especially those of us here in Australia. My thinking was, if I can’t wear them then surely someone else can!  So I set out to find ‘unwearable’ jeans.

My first thought was to talk to my mother-in-law, Chris.  She works for a charity shop in the UK.  I asked her if they had a scrap bin of ‘unwearables’.  She told me to come and hunt. Luckily, I was in the UK recently so we met up and searched.  I came away empty handed.  There was nothing in the scrap bin.

So then I checked online, surely there was something in Australia.  Nope, another blank. If I want scrap pieces of jeans I have to spend a fortune on postage from the US. I had no choice, time poor as always,  I bite the bullet and found the most unattractive pair of jeans I could find in my local charity store. I put it down to saving someone from a fashion crime.  It was the best I could do.

I decided to use only 1 pair of jeans and pre-loved pieces.  I was gifted the pre-loved pieces by Emily.  She gave me one jean leg offcut in light blue stonewash with a random square of fabric missing and two denim pockets from a early Rushcutter dress sample.

The final decision of what to make was easy.  Make something that I would wear A LOT.  Jeans are an everyday item.  It had to be very wearable, something that I COULD wear as much as jeans.  So there you have it, one word: SWEATSHIRT.

A sweatshirt is not normally made from heavy woven cotton but I did spy some inspiration on my Pinterest page and my idea came together from there.

The sleeves are always the main issue when refashioning.  You need so much more fabric than you think, so I had to be savvy.  I decided to hack up a previous pattern into bite size pieces. I used the pattern from my previous make, A synthetic dream.  It’s a raglan sleeve dress hacked into a top from Japanese pattern book, Stylish Party Dresses.  It’s a simple pattern which is what I needed.  It’s also slimmer than the inspiration above, I needed to reduce the volume.  If you panel it out, you will be able to make more use of the strange shapes of fabric that you have.

My thinking was to deconstruct the sleeve by adding an underarm piece and a shoulder panel.  Then, add side panels to the front and back. I had seen this fabulous Dries Van Noten dress which had given me the idea.  Obviously my version is way less complex.

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The centre panel of the sleeves are made from the original jeans.  You can see I removed the back pocket, I just have the shadow left. I incorporated the side seam with the lovely bar tack. This sits about elbow level. The side panels are from the Rushcutter pockets sliced together.  The sleeves are identical.

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I overlocked all the seams, pressed them like crazy and then top stitched them all down.  The piece sits much flatter for it.

My main concern was getting the front/back side panel and the sleeve panels to sit at perfect right angles.  Every seam matched except one. I couldn’t leave it, it just had to be right so I fixed it up and now it matches.  You can see the before and after shots above.

The front and back centre panels are cut by opening up the inner leg seam and flattening it out.  I didn’t insert that centre front seam, that’s the original side seam of the jeans.

Final step was adding the neckband, cuffs and waistband.  I used some heavy duty ribbing from Neotrims on Ebay. It was a ribbing I had originally bought to make a jacket many moons ago.  It had been cut, so I had to do a patch-up job to make it fit the sweatshirt.  The ribbing gives it a touch of 70’s ‘American High School’, which I am not unhappy about!

So here it is in it’s full glory.

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So glad I kept the original jeans side seam, it looks great down the centre front & back.
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You can see the panelling quite clearly here.
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I think the heavy duty ribbing is a winner!

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You can see the shoulder panel here.  It’s a good way of getting this piece cut out of an awkward shape.
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I really love the sleeves.  I like the upside down bar tack and the pocket shadowing on the elbow.  I think it’s a great detail.

 

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The colour blocking here is such an unexpected feature
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I had to patch up the neckband as I was short on ribbing, it turned out rather well I think.  I top stitched this piece down just at this back section .

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Successful refashion?  I think so, yes!

Did it meet my expectations?  Yes, it exceeded them infact.

Will I wear it? HELL YEAH!!

Make Do & Mend Workshop

Make Do & Mend NBC

I was asked recently if I would teach at this amazing workshop set up by my local council.  What an honour to be asked!  Of course I said yes.

I will be helping fix those holes, hem them hems, cuff those cuffs, stitch, mend, elasticate, zip, patch, embroider and try some visible mending techniques.   Generally helping breathe some life back into those once forgotten items that were destined for landfill.

It’s a great initiative and it should be a lot of fun.  So if you are local and would like to come along and mend with some likeminded menders, like me, please join us on Sunday.

And check it out, my legs even made the poster!

Books, bobbins and a blue dress.

“What was your favourite childhood book?”

This was the question posed to me by Rebecca of Dobbin’s Bobbins when she asked me to join her World Book Day blog tour. Choosing my favourite book was easy! She then asked me to make something inspired by my book, eek!

The book I have chosen is a little known story called “Lost at the Fair.” It’s a ladybird book by AJ Macgregor and W Perring.  The story is told in verse, written in 1948 and so it’s a little twee, but really rather lovely.

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My original book is long gone but Mum bought me this replacement when I had my kids!

The story is about Danny and Daisy Dormouse and their friend, Little Fieldie Mouse and a little adventure they have when they visit the fair. When taking a ride on a (miniature) elephant Danny makes a grab for some acorns and gets stuck in a tree, only to be returned back to the fairground by a (giant) blackbird.

There were a few elements that appealed to me as a child, the first was the ‘Woodland Fairy Rock’, what was this magical treat?

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Also, why had Little Fieldie Mouse been left behind and why was he weeping on a gravestone?  Who had abandoned him?

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Why was the policeman less than helpful?  Where was Mr Dormouse? Why was the elephant so small compared to the mice?  Why was the blackbird the same size as the elephant? So many questions… some of which have since been cleared up (it was a milestone not a gravestone). Some questions, however, will go forever unanswered.

MY MAKE

I wanted to incorporate a number of elements into my piece, I wanted a mouse reference, a touch of ‘Woodland Fairy Rock’ and a sprinkling of the 1970’s (the era in which I was endless read this book).  I decided to make a children’s dress, a little blue number just like the one Daisy Dormouse is wearing.

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The dress has a square neckline, so I turned to the old faithful Henry Dress by Brooklyn Pattern Co. and I wanted the fullness of a gathered or pleated skirt with some in-seam pockets, so I looked at the Geranium dress by Made by Rae for the skirt component.  A pattern mash-up in all it’s glory.

As I am a big fan of pre-loved fabrics, I really wanted to use something vintage and preferably something that I already owned.  It was then I remembered this cute homemade 1970’s apron, a present from my sister.  She sent it to me because of the lovely fabric.  It was in a sorry state, very faded and quite a few stains, but definitely workable. If you look very closely you can see little mice running through the pattern.

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The apron looks quite large here, but it’s tiny and so I decided to use the bottom portion of the apron for the bodice and use some contrasting plain fabric for the skirt.  I had to remove the pocket on the apron and hope that the fading wouldn’t be too obvious. I also found a gorgeous teal coloured duck cloth at Spotlight and that worked really well with the colours in the apron.

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Thank you Eva, for being an awesome model, there was some channelling of 1940’s starlet throughout this shoot.  She is an amazing and quirky kid hence the fun photos!
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The hint of Woodland Fairy Rock came in the form of the bias binding on the hem, you can catch the odd glimpse of it now and then.  I used a cot sheet to line the bodice and a navy pillowcase to line the skirt.  I finished the armholes with bias binding, which is the teal duck cloth fabric.

A LITTLE EXTRA

I love a bit of collage, lets just say it’s not my forte (they are a little basic as any proper collage artist will tell you!) but I enjoy the process enormously. I decided to make a set of 3 canvas’s using some imagery from the book and some hand stitching.

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‘Rise and Shine’

I love this image of Danny waking up in his yellow onesie.  I found the crochet blanket image in an old craft book, I do think though, it looks like the sun is radiating from his bum.

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‘Get me off these bobbins’

Poor Little Fieldie Mouse, this image of him crying really had an impact on me as a child.  I wanted some giant teardrops and to get him off that milestone and onto something far more appealing!

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‘I want it all and I want it now’

I have played with scale quite a lot in these collages, mainly because the scale is so absurd in the book.  If ever I wanted some Woodland Fairy Rock I would have to say that this is the size I would want it, GIANT!  (Please tell me you noticed Daisy is wearing my dress!)

I loved every moment of this project.  I really enjoyed delving back into my favourite book and getting to grips with the story and illustrations. I am really pleased with the dress, I like the 70’s feel of it.  It is definitely the kind of frock I would have loved as a child. I only wish it fitted me now. I am also pleased with the collages, it’s a relatively new medium for me and I loved putting those pieces together.  If only I could find a recipe for Woodland Fairy Rock I think this project would be perfect!

Check out all the other amazing makes on this blog tour, you are in for a real treat. There is also a MASSIVE four prize giveaway, some brilliant patterns, children’s craft books and sewing books to be had (there is also a Henry Dress pattern in the mix!) Check out the link for all the information about the tour and giveaway.

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World Book Day

On Thursday 3rd March it is World Book Day and to mark the occasion, Rebecca of Dobbin’s Bobbins is hosting a literary themed blog tour with some creative sewing bods from around the world.  I am lucky enough to be included in said ‘creative sewing bod’ category.   She has also created an amazing give-away, so pop over and enter now, it’s pretty special!

Watch out for my post on Wednesday, it’s action packed and also a little bit mousey.

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Primary coloured polka dots – playschool or supercool?

I recently found this awesome spotty tablecloth in the charity store.  A rather cute circular number, 100% cotton with quite a loose weave.  It was in great condition and was just crying out for a refashion.

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When mulling over my refashion it didn’t occur to me for one moment that it may be ‘too young’ for me.  Seriously, who wears primary coloured spots over the age of 40?  Well, ME!! There was no way I was giving this fabric over.  I was going to enjoy it, all for myself.

I consider a circle skirt, that would have worked a treat given the fact that it was already a perfectly good circle and would need little alteration but I just couldn’t do it.  I don’t really do circle skirts, I love them but they don’t love me.

It needed to be a more radical refashion and a simple bantam vest from Merchant & Mills felt like the right answer.  I do love the bantam, the shape is so cool and I really love the racerback. AND I was lucky enough to stumble upon the Merchant & Mills Workbook in the library recently and so I set about my make.

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I decided to make a toile.  I am not a big ‘toile’ maker.  I usually don’t have the patience for it (I know, big mistake!) but with this pattern I thought I should.  I know it’s a simple pattern but I know my shape well. I knew it would be way too long in the body (it was) and have too much gape around the armholes (it did).  So I made some tweaks and the toile ended up fitting perfectly.

 

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I made this toile out of another charity store find.  It was a couple of dollars, so cheaper than calico and with the possibility that it would get worn. You can see it is quite open around the armhole, but as there are no darts, this was how it worked.  I kinda like the style of it.

The toile isn’t a complete success though, you can see that the binding hasn’t worked very well and has puckered (mmm… my sewing I suspect!).  It’s also rather fat, especially around the shoulder straps which I am not keen on.  Better luck next time.

So, onto my playschool/supercool version.  The main challenge was finding the grain line, not as easy as I thought when you are playing with a circle.  Once I had cracked that, then it was plain sailing.  I decided to add the binding in a slightly different way so it’s a slimmer option and sits really smoothly. I am thrilled with the colour choice, I love emerald green.

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Are those scones on your legs?  No, actually they are my knees.

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Note to self: get a better racerback bra!
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I don’t care what anyone says – it’s definitely supercool.  Not bad for a pre-loved tablecloth!

 

 

 

Christmas present sewing = RSI

DONE!!  Yes, I am done.  Finally finished all my Christmas sewing.  It was an epic event and certainly a challenge. Grab a cuppa, I will try to be brief!

FOR MUM

I made this Marilla Walker top for Mum. The pattern is from her latest Roberts Collection.  I chose a beautiful ottoman fabric in a watermelon print from Spotlight. It has a lovely drape and it worked really well with this pattern.

I wasn’t entirely faithful to Marilla’s pattern, I didn’t include the interesting back detail.  You can really only see the back detail with a plain or lightly patterned fabric so I skipped this part. I love the v-neck and the kimono sleeves and I will definitely be making this one for me too.  The big question is, will she like it?  (Note: My Mum is the kind of person who takes navy slacks back to M&S about 12 times before she is happy with them).

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Cost: Fabric $16 (sale item) + Free pattern (I pattern tested for Marilla and I was kindly rewarded with a printed copy!)

Total = $16

FOR DAD

I made him an apron.  A bit of a cop out?  Maybe? yes!  I was going to give him the gilet but I loved it so much I give it him for his 70th birthday instead. After that epic sew, I am sure he will forgive me for this!

I used some left over ticking from a previous make and a heavy denim from Lincraft.  He enjoys a spot of baking so I know this will be useful.

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Generously modelled by idiot husband!

Cost: Denim fabric $8 (sale item) + leftover ticking $1 + pattern from a Great British Sewing Bee book (gifted to me!)

Total = $9

FOR MY SISTER

I bought an amazing kimono back in July, while visiting Byron Bay.

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It is a second hand piece, not vintage I might add, which made me feel a little better about pulling it apart.  I removed a front panel on each side and a fair amount from the length as I wanted this to be a jacket as opposed to a dressing gown.

The whole kimono is hand stitched, it’s a beautiful piece of work. I couldn’t bring myself to put it on the machine so I hand stitched the alterations.  It was a fairly straightforward refashion once I got my head around all the different layers.

This one was hard to hand over.

I love this – such a beautiful piece!

Cost: kimono $30, used a good chunk of it so say, $20, no pattern or extra’s required.

Total = $20

FOR MY BROTHER

Yep, another apron! I used the heavy denim from Lincraft and some crazy moustache fabric for the binding and pocket, found at the local charity shop.

I was a little unsure if he would like the moustache fabric but my 10 year old assured me, “Uncle Rich likes funny things!”  So, there you have it!

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Cost: Denim fabric $8 (sale item) + moustache fabric $4 (charity shop find) + pattern, free as before

Total = $12

FOR MY AUNTY

This was suggested by Jillian from Sew Unravelled who made the ladies in her family the most beautiful Furoshiki bags one Christmas.  Thank you Jillian!

I used the remaining pieces of my sisters kimono as it’s such beautiful fabric. I will write a blog post about both of these projects soon.

Let’s hope she likes it!  If she’s not keen, she can always use it as a peg bag!

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Cost: $10 (the remaining portion of the Kimono) + free pattern, using an online tutorial

Total = $10

FOR MY NIECE (4 years old)

I think she got the lions share this Christmas, they are blackmail presents as I want her to like me.  I made her two Henry Dresses, both appeared on the Henry Dress blog tour.  She also scored my Henry skirt hack which I love (I wrote a tutorial about how to do this one!)

p.s don’t forget I am offering a Henry Dress pattern to one of my lucky reader. See my Henry skirt tutorial for details.

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Lobster love
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Sunshine & Lollypops
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Henry Skirt hack

Cost: the lobster dress fabric $4 + Sunshine & lollypops dress fabric $20 + Henry Skirt fabric $1. (All patterns were free as I pattern tested this, the skirt is a hack from the Henry dress pattern.)

Total = $25

FOR MY NIECE (9 months old)

One of the favourite makes this year was the Compagnie M, Charles Dungarees I made from a salmon pink linen shirt.  It appeared on the Makery website as part of the Refashioners 2015 which pleased me no end! Completely impractical for an English winter, hopefully they are too big and will be just right by June!

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Cost: Pink linen shirt $15 + Nani Iro offcuts $3 + buttons $1 (charity shop find) + pattern $10

Total = $29

FOR MY Niece (7 Years OLD)

I know, I know, another Henry Dress but I just love this pattern and it was a request so, who am I to say no?  It’s a great make, I wrote a blog post about this one and I am really happy with its retro feel.

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Cost: Fabric $4 (charity shop find) + free pattern

Total = $4

FOR MY Niece (5 YEARS OLD)

A little crafty project.  I was asked for a cloud cushion, so here is my interpretation!  A happy little piece with some blanket stitching made from a very cuddly grey jersey.

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Cost: Grey jersey $1 (charity shop find) + extra scrap pieces + stuffing $4 + self drafted pattern

Total = $5

I promised in my earlier post that I would do a breakdown of the time I spent. I did start jotting down the time but then I gave up, anyone knows (non-sewers and sewers) that this is hours and hours of work.  I am no saint, there have been moments when I have wanted to just abandon it all and make something for myself! But really, I have not begrudged this time although I do think I have taken selfless sewing to a whole new level!

Financially, this has been an interesting journey. Christmas is such a crippler for us, especially as our kids summer holiday happens over this period. I have incurred about $130 and made 11 presents for my 9 family members, I am pretty proud of that!

Would I do it again? I am not sure, I suppose I will have to see the response from the family.  But I think maybe not to this extent, it has been an enormous undertaking and I really am not joking about the RSI.

Someone pass me a sherry…

Pink to make the boys wink!

I love a refashion and I have loved taking part in The Refashioners 2015! There have been some amazing refashions and it has been so inspirational, if you haven’t checked it out, then do!

I managed three items for this challenge, a light blue herringbone shirt , a white Japanese style shirt and now this pink little number!

I found this delicious linen shirt at the charity shop. Isn’t it beautiful? It’s salmon or rose or bubblegum or candy floss pink. Whatever it’s called, it’s gorgeous and looks horrific on me! I knew as I held it up to my face that it was all wrong, massive clash with my skin tone and orange hair, but I just couldn’t resist!

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If it wasn’t for me, then it had to be a girlie number, something for my little niece and as she is only 12 months old, I had plenty of fabric to go at. It could have so easily been a dress, but I decided on the Compagnie M, Charles dungarees.

I made them out of the main body of the shirt and used the last scraps of my Nani Iro fabric for the facing.

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Front of the dungarees and straps
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Back of the pants

I was also hit with the problem of a pocket which had to be removed in order to make one back piece.  I tried a little tip from the Makery website about removing stitch marks, this seemed to work a treat!

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This is PRE-tip I might add!!

I would love to say they were an easy sew but I am afraid not. There are a lot of elements and they really were a labour of love. I have made the Charles ‘pants’ version before and I struggled with a couple of elements.  Luckily there are some online tutorials on the Compagnie M website, a must when attempting the waistband!

So here they are.  The cuteness of them blows me away and they look so much better in real life (if that’s possible)!

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Here I am, just for some perspective really!
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That waistband was a real challenge!
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The Nani Iro facing!

Not only is this the LAST of my refashions but it is also the FIRST of my Christmas presents (remember my Christmas present challenge?)  Although, maybe not ideal for an English winter!!

Another refashion (or is it just fixing a big old mess!)

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I was totally inspired by The Refashioners 2015.  If you haven’t seen it yet, you really must pop over to Portia’s blog and absorb the creative sewing talent on show.  It makes me want to ‘make over’ all my sewing disasters and so here is one I just fixed up!

Although this probably isn’t strictly a refashion (i.e. a men’s shirt to something for me), it is definitely a refashion of a shirt I made for myself about a year ago.  This particular shirt was made from the most beautiful double gauze white cotton that I bought from Tessuti Fabric years ago.  I was quite excited about making this shirt, I don’t wear them often. So when I found this pattern, I thought that this was the beginnings of my new shirt wearing career.  Unfortunately, I was wrong!

The pattern ‘Long-sleeved Shirt with Chinese Collar’ is from a book called Simple Modern Sewing by Shufu To Seikatsu Sha. It’s a great book, I have used it many times, infact I used it for my first refashion.

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But when I tried it on it just wasn’t me, it shouted ‘depressed Victorian artist’.  Something about the sleeves convinced me it was all wrong and the length wasn’t great either.  I tried adding some black buttons to the bottom half to add some interest.  No, that wasn’t doing it either. The thing is, I quite like the collar and the gathering around the shoulders so it was a case of chopping.

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BEFORE (the sunglasses are hiding a very tired face!)
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BEFORE

I went for a cropped style, it’s probably a little Japanese inspired now.  I reduced the sleeves to a more flattering 3/4 length and applied a 5cm machine stitched hem which I like (no hand stitching here!)

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AFTER

I then cropped the shirt length by about 12cm and removed the last button. This left me with an exposed button hole.  I found a scrap of mint green stripe fabric and covered the button hole, I kinda like that.

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But it needed more, so I added a pocket topped with some pink bias binding. The pocket is the same fabric, I found a scrap of it in my stash.  It looks like a different colour, but I thinks it’s just that its not been messed with and washed twice as the shirt has. Finally I switched the buttons to navy blue, it’s a subtle change, but it works much better.

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Bertie – “Can I have my dinner?” Me – “Sorry love, I am very busy directing your 10 year old brother in taking this shot for my blog”

I should have done this sooner – the ‘depressed Victorian artist’ shirt has been staring at me for at least a year and now I have a shirt that I will actually wear. I just wish it would warm up a tad so I can start my new shirt wearing career!

 

Shoulder pads worthy of Krystal Carrington!

All has been a bit quiet on the SWK blog, mainly because I have been sunning myself in Byron Bay, the home of all hippies and the place where I was married 10 years ago.  So, armed with children and husband we donned our flip flops and off we went.

I find it very difficult to relax.  If I have any precious downtime, I will rush to the machine or read sewing blogs or trawl Instagram for sewing inspiration, I am not obsessed at all.  This wasn’t an option, no machine and minimal internet.  So when I did have a moment to myself, I hit a vintage clothes shop.  Oh, how I love a vintage clothes shops.

There is one particular gem close to Byron Bay, in Mullumbimby, called The Silver Lining.  It really is a treasure trove of gloriousness.  I could have spent hours in there. I didn’t though as I was getting hounded by the masses, so I made a quick purchase of a 1980’s grey and nude pink check jacket.

It fits really well, but it has one major drawback, it has massive shoulder pads. I love a shoulder pad as much as the next women, but I am not sure they love me back!  They would have to go, I look like a box!

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I imagined an easy job of removing the pads, but no, it was a big mass of foam which disintegrated as I pulled it away – yuk!

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Thinking this would be all I needed to do, I tried it on again but it still looked wrong as the shoulder seam was in the wrong place completely.  I do have narrow shoulder anyway so I decided to reset the arm holes. Sounds horrific! Of course I googled it, and found this fantastic tutorial from Sew for Dough on altering the shoulders on a jacket!

I pretty much followed the instructions to the letter. Job done.  Why have I never attempted this before?  It was so easy.

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A subtle change perhaps, but well worth the effort, it softens the look of the jacket completely.

Farewell disintegrating foam, hello awesome jacket!