Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Stripes and Floral

Friends, I've gone and done a Dolly Clackett.

Like our stylish friend Roisin, I have become slightly obsessed with one pattern, and have made my third Hawthorn (I'm not quite in her league though as she's made about 70 Anna dresses-  a poor man's Dolly if you will!).

You'll be relieved to hear I have made significant changes this time so it doesn't look too much like my previous two Hawthorns (here and here). I was inspired by Sew Over It's Doris Dress which I thought had similar darts and skirt style to the Hawthorn. I'd already got the fit I liked on the Colette pattern so thought I'd just hack it to turn it into a Doris replica.

I lowered the neckline by about and inch and did away with that sweet little collar. I cut both the front and back panel on the fold so was left with no button plackett on the front skirt piece. To construct this I sewed the bodice first, made the buttonholes, then tacked the bodice together at the waist and attached it to the skirt. Only 5 buttonholes, yay! And no zip as it's loose enough to fit over my head- a winner in my book.

 I used the sleeves from the Hawthorn pattern too but made them much much shorter.  I'd taken out some fabric from the armhole last time round as they were too restrictive so the sleeve didn't fit perfectly. Fine by me, I wanted little tiny pleats in the sleeve head anyway!

The sleeves are still tight though. If  lift my arms up or stretch them outward it's pretty tight and cuts into my arm. I'm not sure if this is because my guns are sooo muscular or just something that happens with me and Colette patterns. I've had the same problem with other Colette patterns. I'm not really sure how to fix this problem, my next solution is to add some ease in the middle of the sleeve. Will this work? OOh the suspense! Any ideas or suggestions are most welcome.

Here you can see how lifting my arms raises the whole bodice

Sleeve cutting into the guns!
 While this dress fits some of my criteria for dresses- loose enough to be only mildly sweaty in 30+degree weather, circle skirt, vintage-y feel- I really don't love it. I'm not sure why though. When I bought this fabric in Goldhawk road I  thought it was really unusual and pretty and it feels amazing, so soft and cottony. But I think maybe something about it doesn't work with this dress, perhaps it was asking to be a shirt instead? You'd think florals and stripes would work nicely, I mean just take a look at Tilly's latest Coco, but here I'm not so sure it does.  The pretty little daffodils just kind of get lost. Ah well.

Some vintage buttons I found in my stash- I thought they matched those daffs nicely.
I finished the insides with the old overlocker, and attached bias binding to the hem before turning and hemming. I like this little trick for hemming circle skirts, although, yes, you have to sew twice, you get a really neat finish and you don't have to faff around with measuring or worrying about wonky hems.

How about you, any florals and stripes in your sewing plans?

An attempt at "fierceness"!

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Swimming in Hawthorn

Morning lovelies. Yep, I made another Hawthorn dress.

oh hello little kitten, you like my dress too?
And I'm not sorry to say this is not the last you will see of this pattern. I think It's fast becoming a favourite. It's fairly quick to make, it's got a flattering skirt and that wee collar is just a lovely touch in my opinion. I do like a shirt dress but so often they can have unflattering (on me) straight skirts or too much gathering. This one fits the bill nicely, thank you very much Colette Patterns. 

I used the famous swimmers fabric which has been in my stash for waaaaay too long, ever since I first saw it here and here  (and later here )and rushed straight down to old Goldhawk for some copycat buying. 

Hmmm, yeah not such great back pattern placement.
This incarnation of the dress does not fit in with my new attempt to wear less print and be less cutesy! I went back and forth about making the collar in this solid navy, thinking it might look a bit clowny but then I thought, I'm making a dress with swimming ladies all over it its already pretty bloody novelty does a collar make much difference?! And went with it. But now looking at these pictures I'm wondering if it looks a bit like a uniform from British Rail circa 1970- and not in a good way. Thoughts?

On the plus side the fit on this one is much better. I did a cheeky small bust adjustment, took up the waist a little bit and the sides by about 1/2cm. It's still loose enough to be cool in these hot temperatures which is my main concern but I think looks a little better. I also sliced a bit of the front armscythe. Colette patterns are always a bit tight on the front of my arms, and this seems to have fixed it. Actually I have that problem with a few patterns- tightness in the front of my shoulders especially when I lift my arms. Just massive bingo wings or is there some quick fix for loosening tightness there, anyone know?

The insides are just finished with the old overlocker- bloody hell I love that thing. What did I do to finish my clothes before? Oh, that's right, nothing! The buttonholes were once again a thing of beauty but sewing buttons on is a real bore eh?

So all in all while I do like the fit and style of this dress, I'm not totally sure I like the way the finished item. I will wear it, its bloody boiling here and this is cool and loose. Do I love it though? Not sure yet.

Those kittens though, they're pretty cute aren't they?

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Hawthorn and Pine

Hello long lost readers. I have a plethora of pretty dress in the pine forest photos for you today.

This is Colette's Hawthorn which I bought pretty much as soon as they released and have been mulling and plotting my own version ever since. From the beginning I jumped on the chambray bandwagon, inspired by Colette's own styling and the likes of Lauren  and Lauren. I'm telling myself it took so long because I was waiting for summer to make this....
I had the perfect chambray in my stash which I had been rubbing my hands together in glee over and delighting in my daydreams of the perfect dress. I traced the pattern and pulled out my fabric. There wasn't enough. No matter which way I wrangled the pattern pieces there wasn't enough. So instead I took advantage of living in a new place and tried out my local fabric shop- which is amazing by the way if you're ever in Limassol, Cyprus. They didn't have the perfect chambray but they had this oxford shirting/chambrayish stuff which I thought was pretty nice and would do for my first version.

 I made a quick muslin in a size 12 as I often find Colette patterns don't fit me well around the bust. I lowered the darts a little and added a bit at the waist as I wanted this to be a very easy, loose and airy dress to wear in my new 35 degree climate. Once I had made up the real version however I still think there is too much room under the bust. I'll do a SBA on the next one. I'm not that bothered by it though, it doesnt look great here but in real life it's fine and with a belt you wouldn't notice it.
Too much room under the boobs in this picture. 

 I really like this dress. It's comfy, and I think pretty stylish. I'm trying to break away from too much cutesy vintage styling these days, wear more solid colours, less print, go a bit more casual. I think this dress fits the bill nicely. I especially like it with this belt.

Back view complete with weird ankle twist.
 The dress was also really simple to put together, you know when you really enjoy the process of top stitching and making button holes that the sewing gods were on your side that day. It does help that on my new to me machine I have one of those cool button hole feet that pretty much does it all for you. Big news for a gal who has pretty much always sewn with old fashioned machinery.

 The buttons are also from new to me locla haberdashers who seems like he might have every sort of trim and zip colour in existence. Yes! They were 10 cents each and don't even look cheap so I count that as a bargain.

The weird snowflake effect at the bottom of the dress here is my attempt at some retouching!
 We took these photos on a walk on the Troodos mountains not far from our new house. I'm coming up here again at Christmas in my next long sleeved Hawthorn and a pair of boots. There will definitely be more of these babies on my horizon.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Sewing classes in London

It's been brewing for a while now, there's been chatter on the social media, whispers have been doing the rounds....The Old Fashioned Way has moved to London!....well, that's to say, I've moved to London with boxes of sewing equipment, patterns, fabric and my two cats tucked under my arm and I'm on the lookout to teach people to sew again. 
Don't get me wrong, sewing by yourself is all good and well (actually it's way better than that, it's frickin' amazing!), but sewing with others, teaching others to sew and helping others make something they are so proud well that's just bloody brilliant fun. So here I go, launching myself in once more and aiming to get as many Londoners, who aren't already, making their own clothes. 

Beginners classes:

Absolute beginners: Saturday 19th October 10-1pm. £30 At Our Patterned Hand
This class is perfect for those with no sewing experience at all or those who want to refresh skills they may have forgotten from GCSE textiles! Come and make your own tote bag. 

In this class you'll:
  • Learn how to set up and use the sewing machine. 
  • Learn how to lay out and cut fabric
  • Practice using a basic straight stitch
  • Make yourself a wonderful reversible tote bag

Improvers: Saturday  26th October 10-1pm £30. At Our Patterned Hand
Already used a sewing machine for simple projects or been to my beginner class? This class will take you to the next level and teach you to make simple clothes- you can choose from an elasticated waist skirt or a pair of PJ bottoms. 

In this class you'll: 
  • Learn how to use a simple pattern
  • Insert an elasticated waist
  • Learn how to add pockets
  • Learn simple hemming techniques

Introduction to patterns: Saturday 2nd November 10-3pm £50 At Our Patterned Hand
Feel ready to tackle the world of clothes sewing but don't know how to understand a sewing pattern. This class will teach you how to understand patterns and guide you through making a fitted top with sleeves or a simple collar. 

In this class you'll:
  • Use a commercial pattern
  • Learn how to sew a dart
  • Use bias binding to create a finish
  • Learn how to set in a sleeve or add a peter pan style collar

Learn to Sew - Beginners Dressmaking - Simple top with collar or sleeve option: Friday 8th November 11am-5pm £60. At Guthrie and Ghani
Making your first piece of clothing can be a daunting task, especially using a commercial pattern.
Come and learn how to make a simple fitted top with darts and bias bound finishing and get a taste for sewing your own made to measure clothes.
This one day (6 hour) course will introduce you to the basics of pattern reading and simple fitting and you'll go home with a home made top at the end of the day.
During the workshop you will learn how to:
  •  Understand and follow commercial (independent) sewing pattern
  • Lay out and cut your fabric
  • Sew darts
  • Set in a sleeve and/or add a simple collar
  • Use bias binding to finish your garment

Intermediate Classes:
Dressmaking. Saturday 26th and Sunday 2nd. 3-6.30pm. £75 At Our Patterned Hand
Choose from a variety of simple dress patterns to make a dress over two days.

In this class you'll: 
  • Learn how to measure yourself and choose an accurate size based on that
  • Learn how to insert and invisible or lapped zipper
  • Sew darts or pleats 
Trouser making Dates tbc At Guthrie and Ghani
A workshop designed to teach you all the basics of making and fitting a simple pair of trousers. 
In this class you'll:
  • Learn how to add in-seam pockets 
  • Sew fly fronts 
  • Learn simple fitting techniques  
Children's Classes:
Workshops and dates tbc but during half term. 


Why learn with me?

I've had 3 years experience running a successful sewing school in Beirut, Lebanon where I taught a wide variety of different classes to suit all levels....and sometimes I even did it when the electricity was off! (that's a Beirut insider joke...;))
I've had 6 years teaching experience in the British Education system and am a qualified teacher- I'm used to teaching 30 teenagers which means 5 delightful adults with cups of tea and a snagged sewing machine is a dream for me!
I'm a pretty good sewist myself, making all mine and my husband's clothes now for the last 2.5 years. 
I believe that in times of constant invasion of big clothing stores and the fashion industry into our lives it’s time to take people back to a place when we spent time  making things we really wanted, and loving the things we carefully made. 
And finally...I hope I've had lots of happy customers! (past students feel free to tell everyone how much you've loved my classes in the comments!)

Monday, 30 September 2013

Fall for Cotton

When this challenge was announced I was still sunning myself in the sweltering heat of Beirut, thinking, "fall (or autumn as it's really called!)?...nah, none of that over here". But back in London town autumn is making it's presence felt so a pair of trousers and a long sleeved top is definitely up the right alley.
I made the trousers from some sort of thick cotton twill, an almost denim like stuff. In fact, what it looks and feels like, for those of you that remember, is those Osh Kosh B'Gosh dungarees that kiddies used to wear. The pattern is the Ruby Shorts from Burda, which I've just extended into trousers. I've made the short version of this pattern before, as have many of my students, and it's just so bloody flattering on everyone.
 The side fastening gives it a vintage sailor feel, and with my love for nautical that wins out everytime. It is slightly annoying in that you can't have in seam pockets but well, some things in life have to sacrificed for the pretty. And these buttons are soooo pretty.

Pretty buttons.

I bought these buttons about 85 years ago from a really lovely vintage haberdashery in Hastings with my Mumma and have been hoarding them forever waiting to really showcase their loveliness. Their time has finally come! The only thing is I only had 6 and really I needed 8 so I decided not to put a button on the waistband and just use hook and eye fastenings. I think it worked fine.

The obligatory bum shot!
Just because I was on a roll and I thought why not, I also made a top to go with them! This is also a Burdastyle pattern (what is going on with the nipples in that picture!?) and made from some sort of jersey with a very little bit of cotton in it and much more polyester I suspect. It's ok, it's warm and a nice colour.

Don't ask me what's going on in that picture, my lovely friend who photographed these pictures insisted on keeping it in!
I did a little bit of a rush job with this top so I'm not entirely happy with the distribution of the gathers on the raglan sleeves, next time I make it, and I think I will, I'll make sure I take more care over those.

 So that's me, in my Fall for Cotton outfit, looking pretty pleased with myself! Who would have thought that shipping your whole sewing studio across the Mediterranean and decanting into it a box room would have made for a nice bit of sewing?
Let's see yours then? What "fall for cotton" pretties have you whipped up?

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

The Strathcona Henley T-shirt

Another request to be  a pattern tester...another narrowly averted disaster (by disaster I obviously don't mean a real disaster of worldwide proportions with real implications to the world, I mean something mildly disastrous in the sewing realm, like cutting the wrong piece from precious fabric, or running out of the right colour thread on a Sunday!).

The lovely Strathcona Henley
When Thread Theory, the new and very exciting company who are making menswear sewing patterns, contacted me to let me know the first 3 people to respond to their email would get to test their new pattern the Strathcona Henley T-shirt I typed YES and hit reply immediately! It was very early in the morning here, which I thought meant late at night there, and although us sewing bloggers like to stalk our readers late at night, I thought I was in with a good chance of being one of the first to respond.
Two days later I still had no reply. Bit rude, I thought to myself, don't want to test their bloody pattern anyway if they can't even be bothered to reply. It seems I hadn't learned from my Sewaholic testing experience....Pride Layla, pride. It's your downfall. The lovely people, Morgan and Matt, at Thread Theory had replied pretty much straight away and the email had gone to my bastard spam box. Why? People, we will never understand the reasons computers fuck with us when they know something is important to us. I didn't realise this until Friday night when I received another email- to my inbox- from them asking if I'd finished my pattern testing. Ok anyway the long and short of this story is that in a major rush, feeling mega guilty about being a failure as a pattern tester, I whipped up a t-shirt in a couple of hours, from printing and thoroughly reading the instructions to hemming and trying it on the hubby.
He is much happier than this about his new top, I swear!
As I'd given most of my stash away and packed up what I was taking back to London with me I used the only piece of fabric I had left that was suitable. It's a pretty stretchy dark blue knit, which is not something you might normally see in menswear, but it actually works pretty well. In this sweaty humidity it's not the nicest thing to have on but when we get back to London and the drizzle and grey makes us lose the will to live I think it will be very cosy for hubby dearest.

The sleeves are designed to be long, my husband's arms are of normal length!
The T-shirt sews up very speedily, and that was even with me reading and following instructions which is something I wouldn't usually do! The only tricky bit was the placket. I unpicked that boy at least twice and am still not totally happy with the result- it's a bit wonk city. I'm not sure that this would be something a beginner could take on although the cool thing about the pattern is that Morgan has included different options for finishing the placket as well as other parts of the process.

Wonky placket...
 All in all I think this is a fab new pattern. Simple and quick, with loads of versatility- it could be a simple t-shirt sans placket, or a sweatshirt with a band at the hem - and really well fitting. The pattern itself has lots of pictures and is easy to follow especially if you are new to sewing. I'm excited about this pattern company as it's so difficult to find good men's patterns and in my quest never to buy clothes I can't keep making my lovely hubby the same shirt a trillion times!

I think he looks pretty hot in his new Henley!
Thanks Morgan and Matt for giving me the chance to test it out and to Rachel for alerting me to the arrival of this new company.

Monday, 19 August 2013

Owning up to my shameful hoard.

This is a shameful post, everyone: I'm going to reveal my dirty hoarding secret.
I've lived in Beirut almost 4 years so packing up to go home is a bloody pain-in-the-arse of an undertaking. I knew I had collected a lot of fabric, when I first arrived here I got way too excited if I saw anything I vaguely liked and would just buy my go-to amount of 2 metres. In the last year I've barely bought anything and have been a pretty prolific maker but there is still this....

The personal stash that will be coming with me...
This is the sorted pile.... In my head it's all earmarked for certain projects and I know what it will one day become I swear!

And I am getting rid of this....

Labeled and ready for sale.
 Yep, I've got some serious fabric stash.

But it's all got to go.

If you're around come by on Wednesday evening (21st)from 5pm and get some serious bargains...because shamefully, it's not just fabric I've hoarded but buttons and trims and ......well, come see for yourself!

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