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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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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