Sunday, 4 May 2014

Sew For Victory!

Well I thought I would have to miss out on this but as the lovely Rochelle kicked back the deadline by a week I had enough time to get my project photographed. I made it at the beginning of April so it is just laziness that meant it didn't get photographed before....oh well!

First up my inspiration. I pinned a few different patterns on Pinterest HERE.

If you know me well, you will know I am all about the shirt-dress! I L-O-V-E them! So it seemed at first that this would be a no brainer. But then I decided that it wouldn't be anything special to crank out a TNT pattern for a sew-along. As I am not a frivolous sewer, I had to make something I would wear, and preferably that I need. One of my pins answered that, I needed a blouse!

So my inspiration is this -

And from the four on here I went for a version of the bottom right hand one.

I didn't have a pattern, so I kind of maybe just bodged one....and by bodged, I mean really bodged!
However, it did work! I wanted to have some kind of bust dart for a bit of shaping, and some darts in the back of the blouse too. As I am a lazy SOB, I didn't want to change up my overlocker threads and french seamed it. Which was okay until I realised I could do with taking the sides in a bit (read as quite a bit). As a result my back darts are too deep but a belt/ my hair disguises this nicely ;)

I would also like to note that I do not have a suitable looking skirt so have opted to make this a contemporary look, Rochelle had mentioned about doing so and I think it is a good idea, especially for separates. It shows that a vintagey pattern is not a one trick pony, and allows you infinitely more choice when wearing it.

So eek! Here it is! I don't like pics of myself, they remind me about how fat I am that I try to forget ;)

Well I guess I should have ironed it! But never mind. White on white is hard to see in pictures but I decided to only have the frilly trim round the neckline, it would have been a bit much round the arms too I think. I trimmed either side of the button placket with lace and sewed a 3mm white ribbon on top to give it a little something extra. The buttons were in my stash having bought them for my doomed Mad Men Challenge dress (I'm not ready to talk about that yet haha!) and in true make do and mend style, the fabric used to be a flat bed sheet. It is unlikely to have been used much before it ended up in the charity shop, the fabric hasn't gone "old bed sheet soft"  yet and it is still very bright white.

Well, I'm glad to have joined in on Sew for Victory, big thanks to Rochelle for doing it again :)

Any one else joined in this time?

Thursday, 1 May 2014

The Seamless Pledge 1 Year On

Well, I can't believe it has been (ok... just over!)  a whole year since I made this statement -

I, Lucy Lovell, take the Seamless Pledge, and vow not to buy any new clothes (except bras) and stick to the rules laid out below, until I sort myself out and am wearing a UK size 12 clothes. Once I have dropped the 2 dress sizes necessary I will re-assess my pledge and set another target. I would like to be free from the tyranny of corporation and this pledge is one facet of a multi-sided endeavour to become self sufficient and stick it to the man.
Sounds a bit cringe worthy now!

So, I'm not a size twelve, but I would like to re-pledge now, and this time, it's FOR LIFE!!

If you know me, you might know that for the past year, I have made all my own clothes, apart from a coat from a charity shop, two new bras, and a three pack of tights. As I said in my original post HERE, I
don't buy a great deal of clothes anyway, but I was amazed at how few items I picked up in charity shops too! I am definitely not a shopper. My other half even laughed at me because not only was I not buying clothes, I was being super mindful of my fabric use too!

Off the top of my head I have made 2 shirt dresses, 1 kimono sleeved jersey dress, 1 mystery jersey fabric fitted dress, 1 pencil skirt with the remains of the mystery jersey, 1 cotton pj bottoms, 1 jersey pj top, 3 black tshirts, 1 pair of trousers, 1 smart skirt, 1 sew for victory blouse, and 1 unfinished pair of shorts. Oh and a few pairs of knickers :D I also upcycled a dress into a skirt. Seeing all this written down feels like a lot, but it makes up over half my wardrobe!

The tshirts are to replace 6 year old tshirts that all have holes in now (one is really shocking!) and the only other pair of trousers I have are in a state (chub rub thigh holes, so not classy!) and should be de-zipped and turned to rags.
I also used old curtains for one shirt dress, and old bed sheets for the pj bottoms and the blouse.

Looking at my previous pledge you can see I omitted bras, and I also was not considering shoes in this either. Bra making for hefty bosoms is something I am very cautious about as I don't want to suffer any back pain or lasting damage, so for now I will continue to purchase bras from M&S, but I will only do so when it is absolutely necessary. Not that I'm a frivolous bra buyer anyway!
As for shoes, well I hope to be able to save my pennies/beg father Christmas to be able to go on a shoe making workshop like Daniela from Ela Sews and Doesn't Sleep did a while ago. I will also make sure that I get maximum use out of my shoes by having them re-heeled when they wear out, and taking any other steps to prolong their lifespan.

I feel so strongly about not making a contribution to the evils of fast fashion and aiding (by consumption) in the poor quality of life that comes as standard for garment workers producing all the RTW out there. I missed out on the "who made it" event on the anniversary of the Rana Plaza tragedy, but I would have shouted loud and proud that it is ME!! who made my outfit. They might not be perfect, but I am happy to say I didn't exploit slave labour for cheap clothing. In a very sweet moment my other half told me that it was inspiring to him that I "go to all this effort", whilst I don't see it as effort, it did make me think that a) he is very lovely, and b) in "real life" I do not know anyone who sews all their own clothes, and even amongst the sewers there are none who regularly make things which is just crazy to me!

Any way, here are a couple of links I think are helpful and relevant here -
War on Want
Slow Fashion Forward
The Ethical Fashion Forum

I would love for you to tell me your thoughts on this issue.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Recycled Packaging

You know when you get a box from Amazon and it is filled with that brown paper in long strips?
Well hold onto it as it is a cute way to package things up!
I used it to wrap up some little packets of homemade gingerbread biscotti as you can see on the label.
Just wrap it round, thread a tag onto some ribbon and  tie it up - simple as that!

You don't even need to iron it flat if you don't want, crinkly adds to the charm - or at least that's what I'm going with....

Hope you are having a good day :)

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Completed Puppycat - With Free Pattern Alterations

At the beginning of the week I finally finished my giant Puppycat!
Isn't he a beaut?!

Well the cat is still suspicious...Or jealous....

As you can see from this bad picture taken when he was just finished, he was sitting a little bit taller, but over the past few days the weight of his head has caused him to sag and I don't think there is much I can do about that - although if anyone does have any anti-sagging tips I would love it if you could let me know! I plan to make more giant crochets in the future, they're so much fun!

As you can see I made a few alterations to Twinkie Chan's pattern, because he is so big, I decided to put his back legs into a different position to aid sitting, and I also stitched his tail to the body because I couldn't get it to bend correctly and thought this was a good alternative. It isn't obvious but I also added an extra increase into the body.
This was my inspiration moment -

So here are my pattern alterations, which can be used on a regular sized Puppycat too. The only difference between the two sizes is that  I used a 7.0 mm hook, and crocheted 3 strands of dk weight yarn all at the same time like a super size yarn.

**American terms used here to follow with Twinkie Chan's original pattern and avoid confusion**
Follow rounds 1-9 as per Twinkie's pattern for the head.

10) [Sc 8, inc] round   (70)
11) [Sc 9, inc] round   (77)
12 -16) Sc round         (77)
17) [Sc 9, dec] round  (70)
18-20) Sc round          (70)
21) [Sc 7, dec] round  (63)
22) Sc round               (63)
23) [Sc 7, dec] round  (56)
24-26) Sc round          (56)
27) [Sc 6, dec] round  (49)
28-29) Sc round          (49)
30) [Sc 5, dec] round  (42)
31) [Sc 4, dec] round  (35)

Finish off with a slip stitch and knot, I used the tail from the head to attach the head to the body so no need to leave a long tail here. Stuffing at the end is fine if you are making the large version, if making the regular one, I would stuff before the hole gets too small - use your own judgement on this one :)


These are made in two parts, the circular part that is lightly stuffed and sewn onto the sides, and the foot part which is stuffed halfway and attached underneath.

The circle bit, make 2 -

1) Sc 7 into a magic ring (7)
2) inc round                     (14)
3) [Sc, inc] round            (21)
4) [Sc 2, inc] round         (28)
5) [Sc 3, inc] round         (35)
6) [Sc 4, inc] round         (42)
7) Sc round in blo (back loops only) (42)

finish off as before, leave a long tail for sewing onto sides of body.

The foot bit, make 2 - 1) In brown Sc 4 in magic ring (4)
2) inc round                              (8)
3) [Sc, inc] round                     (12)
4) [Sc 2, inc] round                  (16)
5-6) Sc round                           (16)
7) In white Sc round                (16)
8) Sc round                              (16)
9) [Sc 2. dec] round                 (12)
10-13) Sc round                       (12)
14) [Sc, dec] round                  (8)
15-16) Sc round                       (8)

finish off, leaving a long tail. Again, if making the regular size, start stuffing the feet after round 13 whilst you can still jam it in is best.

BELL1) in goldish yellow Sc 6 in a magic ring (6)
2) inc round                                               (12)
3) [Sc, inc] round                                      (18)
4-5) Sc round                                            (18)
6) [Sc, dec] round                                     (12)
**Stuff bell here**
7) dec round                                              (6)

Finish off, Leave a long tail for sewing on, and thread it through the loops of the last 6 stitches to ensure it stays closed. Cut two slim strips and 4 small circles from black felt and stitch/glue on to make the ball look like a bell. Either attach to collar, or slip a couple of stitches into the body like I did to secure it firmly. I have a cat who could spot a loose looking bell at 100 paces and would proceed to steal it, hence the extra stitches!
As usual, if there are any queries, do not hesitate to ask in the comments :)
Obviously I do not own the rights to Puppycat and this pattern alteration is not to be made to sell either as a pattern or as a completed toy.

So, is anyone going to take on the giant crochet challenge?! The only problem is where to keep him, at the moment he is guardian of the front room book depository (every time we buy a new bookshelf it gets filled up immediately and an even bigger pile seems to amass on the floor...until we move there is no more room for bookshelves, not that it stops us buying more books!).

Monday, 17 March 2014

Handbag Porn...

Seriously guys check out these beauties I found on Pinterest!!

These are all by designer Judith Leiber, and I am loving the unusual bling-tastic designs!

I doubt I will be able to hand-make anything this fancy, but I sure will be keeping an eye out for an old clutch I can bling up!

Thursday, 13 March 2014

7 Things You can Learn From The Sewing Industry

Hello everyone! Today I thought I would share with you a few tips that I have picked up whilst sewing in an industrial setting. I am no true veteran, nor am I an expert, but these are a few things I have picked up along the way that you might find useful :)

1 - Don't use as many pins!
I know that setting in a sleeve is best done with careful pinning, but for the most part, us home sewers are used to pinning everything abundantly. At work I have 12 pins in my pincushion (four of them are being used to attach my secret T-Rex to the other side of my frilly pincushion ;) ), they get used very rarely and off the top of my head I can only think of 3 or 4 reasons I use them. Most of the time it is on knee pad pockets (I work with industrial workwear mostly), and second most often is to hold something out of the way that keeps flopping down into my sewing area. If you pin everything, I challenge you to have a go at doing some straight seams without pins, like the sides of a skirt, or a trouser leg. I made a pair of pj bottoms the other day and didn't pin them at all!

2 - Use a craft knife instead of a seam ripper.
It is scary to put a knife to fabric the first few times, and I urge you to exercise caution when you are getting used to it - I don't want the blame for sliced fingers or sliced garments! But when you are unpicking a whole hem, especially on heavier fabrics, a craft knife just glides straight through and makes small work of overlocking etc. (Maybe the Sewing Bee contestants could have done with this tip!) Just start off by gently "stroking" the stitching with the blade and gradually increase the pressure until you are comfortable with using a bit more gusto. Be careful, but give it a try! Saves so much time in the long run.

3 - Replacing a zip is not scary!
Seriously, don't throw away those favourite jeans, or that cute jacket because the zip has broken. Take your time and remove the broken one, look at how you are taking it apart, and put a new one in. Once you get the hang of it, it will be no more daunting that putting one in a garment made yourself.

4 - Likewise for taking in trousers!
If you want to extend the life span of a pair of trousers that are getting a little bit loose, or just improving the fit of a new pair, then taking them in is a must. The easiest way is to unpick the waistband 3-4 inches either side of the butt seam. Then taper from about 2 inches above the crotch seam all the way to the top of the waistband. Fold the excess waistband to the inside, sew a seam down it, and sew it back round the trousers, folding the flap of taken in fabric the opposite way to the excess waistband fabric to minimize bulk. If you are certain you won't be gaining a few pounds then by all means cut it off! This will only work to a maximum of 2 inches on the fold (4 inches out of the waistband) as it starts to look a bit weird after that.

5 - Mark your hems with chalk.
This goes along with the use less pins really, but when taking up sleeves or trouser legs, just mark the fold line with a few dashes of chalk. No stopping to take pins out, just fold over and go!

6 - Put your pedal to the metal...
If you ever get the chance to use an industrial machine then you will notice how much faster it is than a domestic. Scary, but once you're used to it, sewing at home just seems to go so slow! I would reccommend to anyone that they practise going a bit faster, even if it is just for straight lines, it will get your garment together so much quicker allowing you to be more productive in the long run.

7 - Have a ruler put on your sewing table.

If you're lucky enough to have a dedicated sewing space with a table not used to host dinner parties, I would recommend getting either a transfer of a tape measure put on the edge of your table, or have a meter ruler attached. It makes it so much easier to check inside leg measurements (I actually have mine sharpied onto my sewing table at home!), zipper lengths, button widths... you name it! It is a small thing that will make thing a bit easier in the long run. It also has the added advantage of not stretching out like a tape measure will after time.

Well that's all I can think of at the moment, I hope some of them are at least a little bit of use to somebody! Feel free to leave more suggestions in the comments :)

Monday, 10 March 2014

If you're crazy and you know it clap your hands....

*clap clap!*

I'm making a Puppycat.... a rather large Puppycat!
My own lack of foresight meant that a cat which is about 30cm in size in the original pattern made by the amazing Twinkie Chan, is now err bigger.... Who knows how big he will be in the end!

Sense told me to frog him and go smaller, insanity said (and i hate these silly phrases but it is the most appropriate thing here) F*** it - YOLO!
Stay tuned for the finished project (when I buy the whole of Lincoln out of white yarn!) and maybe I will make a little aubergine or Peon to go with him too!