Wax On, Wax Off. Or, Just Wax On.

_DSF8518I bought this wax print in Goldhawk Road last year, and I struggled to know what to do with it for a while. Ben deciding that the print looked a bit phallic didn’t help (I like to think of them as anchors or some other nautical thing). I have a habit of buying lovely fabric and then worrying about what to do with it until I get fed up of looking at it and buy something new. At the end of the day, there was six yards of this, so an exploratory skirt wasn’t going to hurt if I hated it.

simplicity-sewing-pattern-1365-1970s-vintage-halter-neck-tops-p6787-14682_zoomOnce I decided on the skirt, I also considered making a halter neck top to go with it (or apart from it). This dream has yet to be realised, but I still like the idea. I just need to make a muslin of Simplicity 1365 and see if there is any way that is going to work for me without a bra. Anyway, I couldn’t wait to show you the skirt, so you will just need to contain your excitement for a while longer (estimate: a year at current sewing speed).

Anyway, that’s enough about me and my ability to procrastinate. I’ve borrowed some questions from Pattern Review to tell you all about it.

_DSF8513Pattern Description: 
Dirndl skirt from Love at First Stitch

Pattern Sizing:
Self drafted (ish)

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?
Yes

Were the instructions easy to follow?
Yes

_DSF8519What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
The instructions were clear, and drafting a skirt based on my own waist measurement was a revelation – it fits!

Fabric Used:
Wax print cotton // £18 for six yards // Somewhere on Goldhawk Road (A-Z Fabrics?)

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
– Normal zip instead of the invisible one recommended. This was purely based on what I had in the stash.
– Belt loops added because my waist measurement fluctuates wildly on a day to day basis, so I can wear it on both fat and skinny days (these photos were taken on a skinny day and I think it still looks fine when cinched in by the belt).

_DSF8521Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?

Yes. I would probably make the waist band slightly narrower if I made it again, and I might try moving the zip to the side so I could cut the back piece on the fold. I might also experiment with a maxi length one.

Conclusion:
Very happy with this. It’s always nice to have a cheerful summer skirt in the wardrobe. I’m also quite pleased with my pattern matching on the side and back seams.

Previously Unblogged…

I’ve made a few things recently that I just haven’t really felt like modelling for blog pictures, all for different reasons, so I’ve saved them up and taken some rubbish pictures of them hanging on a wall. This exercise has led me to the conclusion that I should always make the effort to have photos taken of the clothes when I am inside them, because they look a bit sad on their own.

I haven’t blogged about this before because… I don’t think I like it

IMG_2843This is the Delphine skirt from Love at First Stitch, and I just don’t love it. It’s turned out a bit too big (I don’t know how – I made a toile), I’m a bit meh about the colour, and while I really like the exaggerated A line shape on other people, I’m not a fan of it on me.

Good things I will take from this are that I quite like the exposed zip, and the waistband will always be covered with a belt, so it won’t look quite so wrinkly. I will try and fit this into my wardrobe once the weather warms up (it rides up horrifically when I wear tights), so all is not lost.

IMG_2845Lessons learnt: I need to stop getting overexcited about finding fabric in unexpected places, and only buy the fabric if it’s a colour which I will wear.

I haven’t blogged about this before because… it’s the worlds most simple refashion

IMG_2848A few years ago I picked up a tunic in Uniqlo, but the length didn’t really do me any favours. I had a sudden spark of inspiration and shortened it to fit like a normal shirt. I considered taking it in a bit at the sides, but decided I liked it baggy. It is now the most worn thing in my wardrobe.

Lessons learnt: It’s amazing how a simple change can make such a difference with a refashion.

I haven’t blogged about this before because… makeup and pyjamas do not mix

IMG_2846I still had a fair bit of wax print fabric left after making my awesome tunic, and after much deliberation, I decided that croissantish print pyjama bottoms were the obvious and best choice. I used the pattern from Love at First Stitch, but this time I created an exposed turn-up on the hem because I was in that kind of mood. Let me tell you now – there is nothing better than coming home after a tough day at work and putting on breakfast themed loungewear.

These were made in January for my ‘make something every month’ challenge.

Lessons learnt: people who love lounging need loungewear. Lots of loungewear.

Do you blog everything you make? 

Very Easy Very Vogue 7808

_DSF7463Here is my first (and only, for this year at least) Vintage Sewing Pattern Pledge make; something of a surprise success, considering that the toile looked very reminiscent of my costume for the part of King Herod’s advisor in a junior school nativity! The pattern is Very Easy Very Vogue 7808, and once I’d disregarded almost all of the instructions, I did find it quite easy. I should point out that there isn’t a weird mark above my boob in real life, it’s just photographed strangely. I took the pictures in front of my mum’s shed, but let’s pretend it’s a beach hut.

I made view A, but as you can see in the photo below, there are some departures from the pattern envelope. It was a really interesting challenge to try and understand the instructions, while using today’s techniques, and to also find a way to make this pattern into something which wouldn’t feel too much like a costume. It’s pretty bonkers, but I’m really pleased with the results!

I got the fabric from a shop in Goldhawk Road (most likely A-Z fabrics), where they had a massive selection of wax prints. I was shopping with my mum at the time, and although I had no idea what to make from a potentially croissant printed fabric (or trees? or kidneys???), she is a very bad influence on me, and I bought it. I might use the leftovers to make a blind for our kitchen!

King Herod's Advisor contemplates the pattern, wonders where it all went wrong...

King Herod’s Advisor contemplates the pattern, wonders where it all went wrong…

I tried to make this pattern earlier in the year, but it was all a bit of a disaster – not even considering the King Herod’s advisor part. Considering it’s just a kaftan, this is the project I’ve made that has required the most changes, so I’m going to list them out below.

Lesson 1: Stay Stitch, you idiot!
The instructions have you attach interfacing to the main fabric, not the facings, presumably because it wouldn’t have been iron-on in the 70s. On my first try, I decided to attach it to the facings, but forgot to stay stitch the neckline, so that looked a mess. This time round I left off the interfacing, partly because of the thick fabric I was using, but mostly just to see what would happen. It seems to have worked out ok. I also stay stitched the shit out of everything, and am pleased with the results.

Lesson 2: Facings and sleeves before side seams 
The instructions would also like you to sew the sides before attaching the sleeves or the facing, but I decided to leave that till last, since the facing was nearly impossible to attach last time, with the sides sewn up. I attached the sleeves in the flat, before just sewing straight along them and the sides to close the dress up. Much easier!

_DSF7464Lesson 3: Keep the girls under wraps
The front slit was a bit of a challenge, and my first attempt featured a very wide, very puckered and dangerously low opening. The pattern calls for buttons to do it up, but I didn’t want to add any, and didn’t take into account that this would leave the girls very overexposed. I reduced the length of the opening by two or three inches, and sewed the facing and front together a lot closer to the eventual cut line in order to reduce the width of the slit. It’s still not perfect, and there is a little puckering at the bottom, but it’s a lot better than before.

Lesson 4: Ribbon trim is not for the impatient
My original attempt featured a ribbon trim around the neckline, as on the pattern envelope, but it looked very amateurish and puckered a lot. Since this was such a busy print, I went simple this time round, keeping the details to a minimum. As it’s going to be used for holidays, I did some topstitching around the neckline, just to stop the facings flipping out every time I put it on.

_DSF7465Lesson 5: Experiment before hemming the skirt and sleeves
During most of the construction process, I had no idea whether this was going to turn into something wearable, but I was very surprised when I tried it on by how much I liked it! After messing around with various hemline ideas, and sleeve lengths, I was further surprised by my decision to go for a short hem at the front, dipping down at the back, and quite long sleeves.There are slits in the sides, which would probably make me feel a little exposed if worn away from the pool/beach, but I love the combination of retro pattern, African wax print, and a Japanese vibe when worn with an obi belt.

I wore this months ago when we went to stay with Ben’s parents in France for a few days, and it was absolutely perfect. One additional benefit to the hi-low hem is that you don’t burn the backs of your thighs on plastic patio furniture which has been left out in the sun! So practical! If we were in the 70s, I’d wear this non stop, but alas, we are not, and I’m not sure if it’s something which’ll see much wear away from the beach or pool in my 21st century existence. However, I work in a pretty chilled out office, so I might treat them to some surprise croissants and legs next summer.

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.

DSCN0695

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.

DSCN0692

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.

DSCN0690

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.

DSCN0691

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.

DSCN0693

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.

DSCN0694

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.

DSCN0696

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…

DSCN0689

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.