Sunday, 29 August 2010

Que sera…

I’m knitting the Que sera cardi pattern from Knitty. The wool is some DK pure Bluefaced Liecester (I think, I bought it so long ago!) I dyed with weld (also a long time ago) I’ve been looking for the perfect pattern ever since, until I found this one.
It’s going ok bar a few minor screw-ups and it will need a lot of careful blocking – as you can see from the pictures it’s scrunching up a bit. I’ve finished the front and back and I’m halfway through the sleeves – now, if only I had some yellow clothes to go with it…

Monday, 23 August 2010

I finished the skirt-to-dress… and a tutorial!

I’ve surprised myself, I’ve only gone and finished a WIP!
finished front
Here’s how I did it…
You will need one oversize skirt - for reference, I’m a UK size 10-12(ish) and the skirt I used was size 22 and ankle length. You will also need a dressform, sorry but unless you’ve got a really patient friend who’s good with pins, a dressform is essential. There are plenty of tutorials on the interweb on how to make a duct-tape dressform from your own body if you don’t have one. You will also need a zip and a button.
As I mentioned in my last post, I removed the decorative hem and the elasticated waistband. I reused the hem as a contrasting fabric to form the band round the top and the sash belt.
pin seams to waist
I then pinned the skirt to the form (just pins round the top at this stage) making sure the neckline was sitting in the right spot. You can try on a dress you like and measure from shoulder to neckline and then transfer this measurement to the form. You don’t want it too low!
bodice pinned close up
Now it’s time to get your pins out! With this much fabric you will need to make princess seams following the curve of the bust. It is much easier if you pull and pin the top of the skirt tight to the form, then find the centre front, back and sides and pin them down to the dressform. Then all you have to do is gather the excess fabric between them and pin like crazy! You will need two seams in the front and two in the back. You can make them straight and fitted like I did, or you could get creative! The bottom of these seams will become pleats in the skirt part of the dress so you’ll need to take this into account – one big pleat in the front and one in the centre back will not be attractive. Only pin to the waist and try to conceal any existing seams while you’re at it!
Mark your waistline at every new seam.
sew seams bodice
This part’s a bit scary! Sew your new seams, taking care to stop when you reach your waistline mark. Once you’ve done this it’s a good idea to try the dress for fit. It can be a bit tricky getting those princess seams right first time, but it’s better to get them right now rather than find out they’re wrong later!
trim seams bodice 1
Now slash the fabric at the waistline stopping 1cm short of your new seam.
trim seams bodice
Now remove the excess fabric from the bodice seams.
after trimming seams
Your dress should now look like this (on the inside!)   
flatten pleats
Now press your seams flat and pin the loose folds of fabric below the waist to form soft box pleats.
sew down pleats
Sew ‘em down!
pin back seam
Now pin the back ready for your zip and trim away the excess fabric. Sew up the back seam and press.
sew band
Now measure around the neckline and cut a length of your contrasting fabric, double the width plus 1cm you want your band to be, and slightly longer than your measurement. Fold over lengthwise leaving one side 1cm wider and sew. This extra 1cm will reduce some of the bulk in the seam later. Honest.
At this point I also cut facings for the neckline because this is a thin cotton - if your have a stiffer fabric you might not need any facings. I used the strip of fabric I cut from the back, pinned it to the neckline and cut a 2” band all round. I can do that because I have no boobs – If you are anything above an a-cup you’ll need some shaping. Pin your strip to the form and pleat under the arms until it lays flat. Sew those pleats.
sandwich better
Now to attach your band and facings. Pin the band right side up on the right side of the dress and make a sandwich with the facing on the top, wrong side up. Got it? Good, now sew ‘em all together. If you didn’t make a facing, don’t worry – pin the right side of the band to the wrong side of your dress and sew. Use the extra cm on the band to sew it to the dress, it should help cut down on bulk in the seams.
Flip the band to the front and iron the bajingers out of it. When you insert the zip, you will need to turn the ends of the band and facing to the back and sew them to the inside of the dress.
topstitch band
Topstitch the band and insert your zip. I sewed the zip to stop below the band, made a button loop from one of the old hanging loops and sewed a button to the band of the dress.
Measure for your straps and cut two from your contrasting fabric. Sorry no photos of this step but if you want 1” straps cut two lengths 2 1/2” wide, fold them face to face lengthwise, sew a 1/4” seam, use a knitting needle to invert them and press. Pin them to you dress, sew them down and you’re done bar the hemming!
finished frontfinished back
I used a long length of the contrasting hem as a sash belt. Because the cotton is so thin the print has bled through and it’s hard to tell which is the right side. This is great because it meant I only needed to hem the raw edge of the sash rather than fold it in half to sew it, and I could keep it wide.
The hem of your dress should be longer at the back than the front, and you could choose to trim it all the same length but I chose to hem it as it was. I’m not lazy or anything (OK, I am) but I like it slightly asymmetrical.
I hope my ramblings make sense!

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Dancing at a wedding…



Yep, that’d be me dancing like a loon at Phil’s wedding. Good times.


And no I definitely wasn’t drunk, but yes that is my pint.


Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Skirt to dress AKA playing with the dressform…

I bought this size 22 skirt from a charity shop ages ago – I love larger clothing because the skirts tend to be long, voluminous and elasticated which means there can be quite a bit of lovely fabric to work with!
IMG_9389 IMG_9390
I cut off the waistband and the patterned hem and started pinning like mad on my dressform. Sorry about the lousy pictures but I did a lot of this at night and did a couple of variations.
Princess seams (the gores fall in roughly the right place) with the old hem used as a sash belt, straps and band.
Empire line with the hem becoming the bodice and straps.
Gathered under the bust so I don’t get all squished!
The hem loosely pleated and tacked to the bust. I hate this. It was an attempt to give myself boobs but it just looks silly!
I think I like the top one best because it could become my “50’s dress from stash” as listed in my projects in the pipeline. It also has more shape than the empire line. It would need to be shorter than it is at the moment, and I’ll need to cut a bit of fabric away, so I’ll have some left over for another project – matching headscarf? Heehee.
If you don’t already have a dressform I really urge you to get one. Mine is a second-hand Singer something-or-other I got really cheap on Ebay and it adjusts everywhere. It makes refashioning clothing a lot more fun and easy because you can try out quite a few ideas quickly without having to put on pin-filled clothing and look in the mirror. You can also see the back! Of course it doesn’t rule out trying on the clothes altogether when you’re making, but it can be helpful to pin your favourite idea to the form and leave it for a few days just to get used to it – you usually come up with a few improvements!
I’ll let you know how it turns out!

Saturday, 7 August 2010

All finished!

Just wanted to let you all know that the (probably) boring saga of the workshop is (finally) at an end.

We’ve got a website if you wanna have a look-see - we’ve even got a logo, like a proper business or something!


Lawks! Now I might have time to actually make something nice. I’ve adjusted my dressform (how is it possible to lose 2” from your bust and waist but 0” from your hips?) so I can work on some refashions that have thus-far existed only in my head.

I’ve also got an unexpected commission to make a plate for a chap but that’s almost finished so I think it’s about time I made use of that workshop and started on something new!

Right, I’m off – I was at a very late, very dancy wedding last night and I’m a wee bit tired!