1PPW: T-shirt Refashion

Things have been a little quiet around the blog of late, and I am full of excuses! I went to Japan, started a new job, got sick, and got bitten on the foot by some form of monster-insect (leading to my first ever trip to the hospital) all in the space of three weeks. Anyway, enough of the excuses. I’ve got a backlog of posts to catch up on, so I’d better start this one!

IMG_1979Kath from Bernie and I came up with the brilliant 1 project per week sewing challenge a while ago, and I was more than happy to jump on board. I always want to join in with challenges, but this is the first one which has really been vague enough to suit me, while encouraging more order in my erratic sewing style. It has since fallen massively by the wayside, but more on that later.

My first #1ppw is actually a refashion (which is totally allowed – awesome, right?). I bought this t-shirt dress a couple of years ago to wear to a Club Tropicana party, but in the end, I went with something else. You might be surprised to hear that my day to day life doesn’t really call for me to wear neon t-shirt dresses which look like nighties. It did originally have a belt, which made it a bit more flattering, but it was still quite baggy and see through.

Since receiving the sewing machine of my dreams for my birthday, I’ve been really keen to try out new techniques. The idea of sewing knits had previously terrified me, my old machine was erratic and I imagined it might just vomit some thread onto them. My new machine handled things fairly well - the tension seemed to be impossible to adjust, but the stitches looked ok on the underside, which is to say the outside of the garment, so I wasn’t overly concerned about this on my first, and experimental, project. If anyone has any tips, they would be gratefully received. Bear in mind that I have done no research into sewing knits, save the knowledge that I needed to use a zigzag stitch of some kind.

I pinned the t-shirt in half, lined my Maria Denmark Kirsten Kimono Tee pattern (which is free when you sign up to her newsletter) up with the shoulder seams and centre fold, then drew around it. The pattern doesn’t contain seam allowances, which was fine for my purposes as it meant that I could just sew straight along the line that I’d drawn. I then repeated the procedure on the other half of the t-shirt, before checking that they lined up by pinning it in half again along the lines on one side, and then making sure the pins showing through on the other side were at least vaguely close to the lines there.

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I sewed both of the side seams using the stretch stitch on my machine, then tried it on to check that the fit was ok, and that the length I’d marked looked ok. It all looked fine, although I thought the stitches looked a bit odd. After consulting the manual it turned out that I’d used a multi stitch zig zag instead of a stretch stitch, but I didn’t think it really mattered – you can’t really see it from the outside.

I trimmed the side seams down, but didn’t bother finishing them because DON’TYOUTELLMEWHATTODO!

I chopped the end of the t-shirt to about 1cm below the line I’d marked, then folded it up once and pressed it, before turning to the proper stretch stitch and hemming it. I have no idea if this is deemed an acceptable method of hemming a t-shirt, but I’d had enough excitement for one day and wasn’t prepared for the fun of a twin needle.

I’m really pleased with how a fairly simple refashion has made this into such a wearable garment. Not only did I make this into something I actually wear all the time, but I also got a good idea of the changes I will make to the pattern for future incarnations (a few inches longer and size bigger on the hips, if you’re interested!).

I’ve come to the conclusion that this t-shirt just isn’t very photogenic. Or maybe it’s me. One of us is the problem here. After two attempted photoshoots (one abandoned due to a menacing looking seagull), I’ve come to the conclusion that you’re just going to have to live with the one before and after shot.

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Aside from this tshirt and my orange dress, I managed to spend a week working on a muslin for my Belladone dress, and another week working on a muslin for my Delphine skirt. Neither of these have resulted in finished projects yet, but I am more inclined to sit down and do some sewing in the short pieces of time that I do have.

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Seattle Part IV

Thursday 8th May

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We met in the morning for brunch at Oddfellows. I went for biscuit and egg, which turned out to be a scone with some scrambled egg and, confusingly, jam.

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After filling ourselves with noms, we headed to the exhibition space in order to set up for the evening. It was hard work, but we managed. We had an extra pair of hands when the lovely Ashley from the International Bipolar Foundation arrived. They were instrumental in helping with this project, so it was nice that she could be there to see the exhibition.

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Ben was lucky and avoided any of the heavy lifting as he was the official photographer for the event (actually the reason we were in Seattle in the first place). He was in charge of taking pictures of us dragging gigantic babies around, holding up boards, drilling and assembling various pieces of complicated hanging equipment.

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The show went really well. There was a great turnout, and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. I got to meet some friends of friends, as well as some strangers, and a man who kept looking at my boobs.

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Ellen Forney came along!

By the end of the night I think we were all glad to have a bit of a sit down after a day on our feet!

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Friday 9th May

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With feet still aching from the exhibition the night before, not to mention the fact that we hadn’t stopped walking since we arrived, we headed for breakfast at Top Pot (classic), before gingerly walking downtown to the aquarium. It began to rain half way, so our feet were glad to stop for another coffee break!

Seattle Aquarium took a little bit of finding. We ended up exploring quite a few levels of Pike Place Market on our way down, but it was worth it. The first section includes a section where you can touch some of the creatures of the deep, but they all looked a bit minging, so I decided to leave well alone. As well as various fish, I spotted a couple of octopi, watched the feeding of the harbour seals, and spent a long time cooing over the sea otters.

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In the evening, we met up with Tom at Dick’s Drive In, where we devoured a couple of burgers each, before heading to Rhino Room for cocktails (for the boys) and wine (for me).   After a couple of drinks, we headed back to the exhibition to see how Missy and Kim were getting on during their second night. Again, it was pretty busy, and they seemed really happy with the turnout. It was a bit chilly in the venue, so Ben, Tom and I decided to head upstairs to chill out with a second dinner, before heading home in a cab.

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After packing up, we arrived at Kim’s house in time to help everyone unload the exhibition from the van. We had a spot of lunch before helping out with a shopping trip to buy food for the Eurovision party which they were having later that day. Sadly, our flight time meant that we couldn’t attend the party, but that didn’t mean we couldn’t help out with our knowledge of european food and drink.

Finally, we waved goodbye to our friends at the airport and caught a flight home, looking forward to not walking anywhere for a few weeks!

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1PPW: Birthday Dress

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Yay! I finished my birthday dress! Happy birthday to me! Oh, wait… my birthday was two months ago. I’ll be honest, all I needed to do to get it ready for my birthday was a tiny bit of hand sewing and the hem… Could I be bothered? No. Thank God for the 1PPW challenge!

This is actually my second #1ppw, but the first one is proving impossible to take pictures of. You’ll just have to contain your excitement a little longer!

Still a couple of weeks behind, I have finally got pictures! With accessories! We took the photos at the King Alfred Centre, our local swimming pool, because it looks a bit 70s, although it was built in the 30s – it was used as a training centre for the navy during the war, and went by the name H.M.S. King Alfred. Quite why they gave it a ship’s name, I’m not sure.

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I’d initially planned to make a Peony from this fabric last year, but as I am now on my second toile for that pattern, with no real hopes of getting it to fit in the foreseeable future, I’m glad I didn’t. At the time when I bought the pattern I was not a toile maker, so I’m very pleased that I now am, and that I didn’t ruin this beautiful Joel Dewberry Notting Hill cotton.

After looking at the fabric a bit more, I noticed a decidedly 70s vibe (I can find a 70s vibe in most things). I quickly dug out Dressing Chic: Revisite les 70s, and decided that the robe trapeze would be an acceptable choice.

_DSF7136_2After examining the slightly bizarre shapes of the pattern pieces, it turned into a more than acceptable choice – there are awesome little pockets built into the waist seam, and I find them the cleverest thing in the world!

The shape of the finished dress is a classic A line. It’s fitted over the bust and the shaping through the waist and hips means that it’s roomy enough to accommodate a large food baby without issues, and still flattering for someone like me, who needs waist definition like she needs air.

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The pattern is very nearly perfectly matched at the front, and I think the busy pattern helps to disguise it a lot. I sort of wish I’d unpicked the waist seam and corrected it, but I’ll have to live with it now. The back is less successful, and I can’t quite work out where I went wrong. I think I just need more practice to be honest. The zip is also a bit of a mess, but I think I can live with it as it’s not terrible. I do want to get an invisible zip foot at some point, though.

After trying the finished dress on, I noticed that the pattern placement over the boobs is less than ideal, but it’s a lot better than when I originally placed the other bit of the pattern over them. Ben didn’t notice until I mentioned it, so it can’t be that bad.

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The only modification I made to the pattern was to lengthen it by quite a lot. I’m 5’6″, and, per the pattern, this dress is shorter than I would feel comfortable wearing most of the time. At knee length, it’s perfect for most occasions.

The book is in French, and as far as I’m aware there isn’t an English translation. I speak French, so this wasn’t a problem for me, but it’s something to bear in mind if you were interested in it. The instructions are fairly visual, and if you know roughly what you’re doing and don’t mind looking a few words up, I don’t reckon the language barrier would be a problem. The patterns come in five sizes – 36 to 44. I went for a 38 and I’m somewhere around a UK 12 with the big four. 1cm seam allowances are included in the patterns, with a 3cm hem allowance (it could take a non-French speaker a while to locate that information).

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There are 18 patterns in the book, and I would wear at least 10 of them (I am incredibly fussy). The remaining eight aren’t really to my taste, although they’re still stylish and in keeping with the period. Of particular interest to me are a sporty A line wrap skirt, some sailor trousers, and a simple coat.

One of the highlights of the book, but sadly not one that I can see myself making, is the very 70s jumpsuit. The accompanying text reads “with a jumper underneath during the day, and a big necklace in the evening, you can wear this all day long”. Perhaps I should relax my anti-jumpsuit stance in favour of a practical all day wardrobe?

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The book is really nicely styled, with photos of the outfits at the beginning, then the instruction section at the back. It’s more like flicking through a catalogue than a sewing book. Paper patterns are included in the book, although they require tracing, Burda style. I highlighted the lines I needed to trace beforehand, which made things a lot easier.

And finally, because they make me laugh:

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Seattle Part III

Wednesday 7th May

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There was a morning disaster when Top Pot had run out of donuts, but we soldiered on with life and walked down to the Space Needle with empty stomachs. As we were there pretty early there were no queues and we were able to catch the first lift to the top.

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The views were absolutely fantastic, and it was nice to be able to take our time wandering around. Although we took some of the classic tourist shots, it was also fun to take a few more unusual pictures which will probably serve as a better reminder of our trip.

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It was so much less stressful than our trip to the Empire State Building, and you don’t even have to pay for your cheesy tourist picture – they email the derp directly to your inbox!

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I’d like to think this is among the top ten worst pictures ever taken of Ben and I, but I can’t be completely sure… Here’s the worst one – Empire State strikes back!

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Next up, we headed to EMP, which is a music and sci-fi museum. A slightly strange combination, but they make it work. There were exhibits on Nirvana and Jimi Hendrix, as well as a cool room where you could play with some instruments. We weren’t very good at that and left quite quickly.

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The sci-fi section of the museum was fun. I got to have my picture taken on the Iron Throne, pretend to be a raccoon, and punch a dinosaur in the face!

 

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That evening, we went for delicious cocktails at Sun Liquor with Missy, Tom, Kim and Kathi, before walking down to Mamnoon for some of the best middle eastern food I’ve tasted. In fact, it was so good that the vegetarians in our party turned meat eater for the night. It was a surprise to find the traditional food served in such a modern setting, but that really added something different to the meal, and we all had a fantastic time sharing the plates we’d ordered (basically the whole menu). Everything was nicely washed down with crémant. I had taken some pictures of the amazing food, but they were drunk and blurry. Use your imagination. It was the perfect celebration in preparation for the exhibition the following night!

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Coming Up…

I had hoped to unveil my first t-shirt today, but Ben and I had some creative differences during the photoshoot, so that’ll have to wait for another day. In the meantime, let’s talk about fabric shopping…

The other day, my mum and I went to Goldhawk Road in Shepherds Bush for the first time. That place is AMAZING! We have quite a nice selection of fabric shops in Brighton, but they’re not grouped together and, for the most part, they’re not that cheap. Here we found at least ten fabric shops covering both sides of the street. The staff were very friendly and knowledgeable in each shop, and would always ask if we were looking for anything in particular, before just leaving us to browse if we wanted.

Obviously, I bought some stuff, and since the stash is out of control, I thought I would make a little list of upcoming projects for my reference as much as anything else. This list is subject to change as soon as I get distracted by something new and pretty, but I’m very happy with the fabric and pattern combinations below. I’m hoping that some of the other fabrics in the stash can be used for wearable muslins of all of these.

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I’m going to be making a Belladone in this amazing Japanese panda print for the Summer Sundress Sewalong, and I couldn’t be more excited! My first toile (bodice only) has revealed that I need to lower the bust darts by about an inch, and since it feels a bit short, I won’t take the extra length out. The hole in the back is gaping quite a bit and will need some work, but I think I will correct the front first, and see if that has any effect.

I often have issues with darts being too high and necklines gaping, so these changes aren’t very surprising. I hope that if I can get the darts right on this pattern, I can somehow use it as a guide for the Colette Peony I’ve given up on fitting. I bought the worlds shittiest tracing paper from MacCulloch and Wallis though, so pattern alterations tend to be a fraught process in our household.

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I left for Goldhawk Road with a vague idea about finding some patterned crepe to do my beloved Pierre Balmain Vogue pattern justice, but a visit to Al Anaka Textiles changed my mind. The owners were so helpful, asking about what I was making, and taking me off to see the new cottons they’d just got in. As soon as I saw this orange and pink paisley print, I knew it was the one! Apparently there’s a tradition in the Middle East that the first customer to buy from a roll gets a discount as a kind of blessing, so I got this for £7.50/metre. I don’t know if that’s true, but I was happy with a discount, and it’s nice to think that my dress is lucky! They were very helpful in discussing the length I would need (they thought I could get away with less, but I played it safe with the 4 1/2 metres specified on the pattern envelope). If you’re in the area, I’d really recommend a trip to their shop if you’re after some advice.

There was a recent conversation on Marcy’s blog about who we dress for, and my feeling was that I dressed for myself, although Ben had some input on his favourite colours on me and so on. I wasn’t quite sure that he would like this, and I was surprised that I was a little bothered by that. I was planning to explain about the beautiful drape of the fabric, and the 70s print being perfect for a pattern of the same era, but he declared it awesome on sight, so that was a relief. I would have made it, whatever, but it’s always nice to have a little support. He’s been commenting on how much he likes it ever since!

It’s difficult to express how pleased I am with this fabric choice. I’d spent a long time thinking about what to make this from, so it’s great to have something planned out now. And yes, I am obviously going to make the long version. My thoughts are that if I don’t find it wearable at that length, then I can always cut it down to knee length at a later date.

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I was very much hoping to find some African wax print fabric at Goldhawk Road and I was NOT disappointed. I think this came from A to Z fabrics, although I’m not 100% sure. The guy working there was really helpful, and happily dragged pre cut bits of fabric out of massive piles for us to hold up against ourselves in the mirror (both this shop and Al Anaka have mirrors, which is such a great idea!). I didn’t have firm plans for this fabric when I bought it, but the man said the colour suited me (I’m a sucker for flattery), I loved the little tree-croissants and at £15 for six yards, I was happy to wait and find a use for it one day. It was only during lunch that I realised it would be great for my 70s beach tunic! Any leftovers will probably become a skirt.

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Another brilliant African wax print! This was also probably purchased from A to Z, but was £18 for six yards. I just love the sunny nautical feeling of the print. I’m not sure what it’s going to be yet, but probably a dress of some kind (any suggestions welcome). If there’s enough left over, I am wondering about a summer dressing gown kimono thing.

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I found this denim in Snoopers Paradise last month, and as soon as I saw the Delphine pattern in Tilly’s book, I knew this would be perfect. This is the next project after the jammies in the book, and I’m ready to go. One change I’m going to try is an exposed zip – I think that’ll look really cool with the denim.

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After the skirt, I’ll be tackling the Megan dress. I’ve had this fabric in my stash for quite a while, and I think this dress is the perfect choice to show it off.

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When I find the time, I’d also like to continue my mission to make each view of this Simplicity pattern in leopard print.

And finally…

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This shirt from the first GBSB book is doing my head in at the moment. Despite careful cutting, the pattern is all off, and I just stumble from one disaster to the next – the collar is currently wonky. This was meant to be my second #1ppw but it makes me want to punch myself in the face. I’m going to put it on the back burner for a bit. Thankfully I managed to finish my birthday dress up for #1ppw instead.

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