Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Progress Report

I have been back at school for a while now so I haven't done as much sewing as I would like but I am determined to keep it up. Writing this post is partly aimed at keeping me focused. That said, I have made some progress:
  1. Winter Coat. I am SO close to finishing this. I have attended some Own Choice sewing days at the Modern Approach Sewing School where the lovely Janet Moville has helped me with new speed tailoring techniques such as putting in a sleeve head, how to correctly use shoulder pads, what a plaston is and how to do a bagged lining. I am really pleased with what I have done, though it takes a lot of time. I think I have spent over 5 days on my coat already! I just have to finish the lining and do the button holes.
  2. Wardrobe in a Week: or month or year! My first top was a complete wadder! My grey skirt looks good but is unfinished. The last two items are still large rectangles of fabric.
  3. Chanel Jacket: the nearest I got was watching the Signe Chanel Jacket on You Tube! So no sewing done but I can thoroughly recommend this documentary made for the BBC.
Just because I am short on time to bring the ideas I already have got to fruition doesn't mean I mean I need any less inspiration. I love Hobbs clothes and they have just brought out a new collection called NW3, named after Hampstead, the spiritual and historic home of Hobbs. Yet again, I advise you to hide your credit card before going to their website!

Monday, 17 August 2009

Wardrobe in a week (WIAW)

On the Artisan's Square Stitchers Guild Forum you can join in this just for fun competition. You have this week to prepare, then next week to sew any four coordinating garments. I am seeing this as a prelude to the SWAP on Pattern Review which starts in September (11 garments). My aim is to make a casual collection to wear with a green jacket I bought last year.

Tartan Cotton: Shirt BWOF1/2008 107

Navy Cotton Velvet: simple above knee A line Skirt from Sew U book (no pics as from book)

Charcoal 100% wool flannel: A line skirt with front inverted pleat and front pockets adapted from Sew U pattern

Red Stripe Jersey: boat neck top from Sew U stretch book

My target is to complete my preparation by Friday. I have even made myself a to-do list!
  1. Boat neck top: cut out, iron seam tape to neck edge
  2. Shirt: cut out, interface collar and cuffs
  3. Blue skirt: redraft pattern so it fits, cut out, interface waist-facing
  4. Grey Skirt: cut out, interface waist-facing.
Initially, I wasn't sure about separating the preparation from the sewing, as opposed to making each garment in turn. I have to say though, it has helped to ensure my plans are finalised before I plunge in. I think one of the mistakes I make with the 11 garment SWAP is that I was a little vague on a few of my garments before I began, I then made some rushed choices which didn't really work. Hopefully, this one will turn out better.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Two muslins made

I am not doing any more to this at the moment, I am going on another sewing day in a couple of weeks so I am going to make it then.

I have also made a muslin of the boat neck t-shirt from the Sew U book. It is too big for me as I made the medium because lots of reviews said how small the patterns are in this book, however I think a small will fit better. The neck opening is also too large so I will adjust that.

This is going to be part of my casual mini-collection for the WIAW (wardrobe in a week) on Artisan Square. I haven't chosen everything yet but I have some striped jersey for this top and purple cord and grey flannel for two A line skirts from the Sew U book. I hope to make a checked shirt for my second top but I haven't found the right fabric yet. Preparation starts on Friday and sewing is the following week.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

A married lady and a planner

On 17th July I became a married lady. The day was absolutely wonderful, better than I could have possibly hoped for and I will treasure my memories forever. We went on honeymoon to Lake Garda, Italy which was also absolutely fabulous. Our hotel was right on the lake and our room faced the lake looking onto the mountains on the other side. We did quite a lot of sight-seeing but also a lot of lazing around y the pool which was just what we needed after the hectic time leading up to the wedding. You can see a full view of my dress here:

Now that I am back from honeymoon I am planning my autumn sewing. Autumn is my favourite season and I love the new fashions that are coming into the shops right now, added to the fact that I haven't sewn much over the past months means I am really fired up to get going! As seems to be the fashion on a few blogs at the moment, I have made myself a little plan:
  1. A winter coat: I have never made one before so this will be a new challenge. I have purchased Butterick 5145 and bought some lovely black wool with cashmere for it.B5145.jpg
  2. A casual capsule wardrobe. I am considering joining in the wardrobe in a week contest on Artisans Square. I am gathering my ideas at the moment but I am thinking about a Boden inspired collection.
  3. A Chanel Jacket: inspired by Coco before Chanel I have joined the Chanel Jacket sew along. I have made one before and I want to improve on my technique. I have also worn that jacket loads ( once a week) so I am really looking forward to another one.
  4. A tailored suit: I really want to improve the quality of my garments and learn some couture techniques.
  5. A cape: I wanted to make one last year and I didn't get around to it. I have noticed that they are still big news this autumn. so it is definitely on my list
  6. A shift dress: quite frankly I don't know how I have NOT made one yet!
  7. Narrow leg trousers: even though I am slim, I am pear shaped and have not got into the skinny leg jeans thing but I think I might give these a go.
  8. Shirts: I have worn the red blouse I made a lot so want to make some more. I am loving the checked shirts that are in the shops right now and I want to start with that one.
  9. Pencil Skirts: again, something I have had success with before and I want to try some new patterns.
  10. TNTs: I want some of the patterns I use this autumn to become TNTs so that I make better fitting garments.
WOW: this is quite a list!
My other target is to blog more regularly so I will keep you updated on my progress. My first job is to make my muslin for my coat.

Friday, 12 June 2009

Ebay purchase

You know how it goes. You are mooching away on ebay and something catches your eye. A few clicks and a few pounds later and you have the joy of being the winning bid on a little lot of goodies. I love vintage haberdashery and have a few little bits already. I had the idea of expanding my collection and making a picture out of the ephemera. What I bought from ebay was the contents of someone's sewing basket. I love the idea of a lady collecting, using and reusing these things. Some special things are the bird pin cushion, the wooden reels of sewing thread and the linen lace edging. The threads on the bottom right are "The Lamb All Wool Mending" and "Coats Chain Filosheen" for darning all kinds of hosiery etc.
I am sure I have see pictures in shadow boxes made something like this:

If you like things like this and have serious money to spend check out Sajou, the French haberdashers. 

Sunday, 31 May 2009

A trio of small things

The first thing I have made is a knitting needle case. I have already made one of these for myself, this one is for my knitting chum. There are many knitting needle cases around but most of them are a roll design. This is like a giant pencil case, 18" long. The fabric is designed by Heather Bailey.

You can see the lining in this picture:

I made this clutch bag to use on my wedding day and its just big enough for my lipstick and compact. I bought the pattern from etsy. Michelle also has  a fantastic blog. 
I am going to make one for my bridesmaid to match her dress. I first saw this pattern being used on this lovely blog.
This little hat demonstrates my new hobby: knitting! I have made it for a work colleague who is expecting her first baby soon. The pattern is by Debbie Bliss using Baby Cashmerino wool. She doesn't know (or isn't telling) the sex of the baby so I chose this soft green and white as it would look lovely on a boy or girl.

I am still working on my second summer top. The body is finished but the cowl neck thingy still needs some tweaking to get it right.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

I'm back sewing

Work commitments and planning our wedding have prevented me from sewing much during the past 6 months or so. I have some more time at the moment and I have been inspired by some great blogs out there so the time has come to dust off my sewing machine and whip up a few things. I have a few summer tops in the pipe line. You know the thing: make it in an evening, no complicated fitting and lovely crisp cottons that don't slip all over the place. First up is Simplicity 3692. I love the Built By Wendy patterns and I have her Sew U books still waiting to be used.

I used a blue and white checked cotton. After reading the reviews of this pattern I knew it was going to come out very big, even though I was using a woven and not a knit. I cut a size 6 rather than my usual 8-10 and even then I took it in a little on the waist to give it more shape. I added a self tie belt which is 1.5 inches wide cut the whole width of the fabric. I made view C, adding white lace trim and three white buttons. The photo below is not that great (of me or the top) but it gives you the general idea. I will try to get a better one, and a close up of the trims I have used later.
The next top I have planned is Simplicity 2593, one of the new Cynthia Rowley patterns. have a lovely printed cotton voile to use.

Thursday, 9 April 2009

On her recent visit to the UK to accompany President Obama for the G20 summit, Michelle Obama wowed the UK with her style. It is so refreshing to see a confident, well-dressed woman who obviously takes great delight in her clothes. I think the phrase is that she wears her clothes, not her clothes wearing her. Her clothes were a great contrast to the drab mannish power suits of the likes of Angela Merkel and Hilary Clinton. I wonder, why is it that women have copied the business suit from men without very much refinement, could one of the women world leaders ever turn up to a summit meeting in a skirt and cardigan combo?

These images and details of her outfits are from Mrs O.org (edited: Mrs O blog has changed so I have taken some of the images out)

J.Crew Constellation sweater in ivory with beading and sequins paired with Dazzling dots mint green pencil skirt. This outfit sings like spring. Great jewelry too.

Ivory and black silk crepe dress by Isabel Toledo, paired with a black Azzedine Alaia cardigan, and black satin opera coat by Jason Wu. Another great little cardigan. Monochrome is always stylish.

Floral silk jacquard dress with black mesh trim and coordinating, reverse print coat, both by Thakoon. A very polished look which is professional and ladylike.

Black knit and ruched dress worn with black bolero jacket, both by Azzedine Alaia. This is so beautiful....

Fitted Narciso Rodriguez black knit dress paired with Azzedine Alaia black bolero jacket and black kitten heels. What woman would not want to look like this? I need to get to the gym...

Oversize white bow blouse by Moschino, worn with a black pencil skirt by Michael Kors, black cardigan and studded belt, both by Azzedine Alaia. Another pencil skirt and cardigan combo. I think the belt that sits high on her waist is one of her key looks too.
So, what are the key elements of her style?
  1. Short, fitted cardigans
  2. Fit and body-skimming clothes
  3. Pencil skirts, as well as A line skirts
  4. Belts that sit high on the waist
  5. Black
  6. Colour: no "Michelle purple" on this trip though
  7. Polish: very well chosen accessories
  8. Shift dresses
  9. Kitten heels
  10. Those arms!
I would love to create a wardrobe inspired by Mrs O..... more research and a trawl through my patterns is required. A mini wardrobe may be difficult though: even though she often wears clothes in different combinations, one of the things I love is that she wears so much colour which may be hard to coordinate.