31 May 2010

Project: Frock by Friday

Saturday evening I washed and dyed some yellow polycotton that I'd bought only to realise, in my impatience to get sewing, that I should really have taken the time to ask for a sample as it was the wrong yellow. Unfortunately the photos documenting the different colours didn't come out but suffice to say that the bright yellow has become a more golden yellow and much more the colour I was actually after!

Yesterday I spent the day printing out the pattern and piecing it together. Then printing out the pattern of an A-Line Skirt from Burda in order to make a bigger skirt that was more full than fitted as advised by Kathleen of Grosgrain when I asked her how to make a dress with a fuller skirt. And then spent far too many hours attempting to piece it all together. Neither pattern had seam allowances so I'm still marking out the front piece (back already marked and cut) and will be finishing the cutting today. Hopefully my head will clear up a little later (damn summer cold!) and I'll actually get some sewing done too!

Thanks for stopping by,

26 May 2010

SWAP Updated

I've settled on the patterns for The Plan. I'd originally planned on making the Shirtwaist Dress of the Frock by Friday project currently running on Grosgrain, but whilst I'm still making the dress I'm not going to include it in the plan despite its meeting the criteria of colour and style. This is mainly because whilst going through my wardrobe for my first job interview in almost six months, I realised I have almost no clothes suitable for the workplace of the real world (as opposed to the workplace of the telly world where smart or business wear were not prerequisites for the office environment, one could and did turn up for work in pyjamas if one wanted). I'll use the Shirtwaist Dress as practice and use the Simplicity 3673 as my dress for the plan, sneakily giving me two dresses at the end of the day!

Trousers Trousers Skirt Skirt
Top Top Dress Colour Scheme
Top Top Jacket

I had a lot of trouble choosing tops for The Plan, this is a problem as I have very little tops in my wardrobe suitable for a grown up professional, at work or at play. I'll probably make two different views of each of the two shirt patterns I've included below but these will be subject to change if I find something a little more suitable.

I've not yet figured out what jacket pattern I'll make. There's very little out there that I've found (yet) that's really called to me, but the jacket is the one area I'm not overly bothered about at the moment as I do have a few of jackets, a couple of which are actually suitable for the office.

I'll post the fabric swatches as and when I have them.

Thanks for stopping by,

23 May 2010

Sewing With A Plan

A magazine article titled The Perfect Wardrobe was published a while back in Australian Stitches. It laid out the method behind creating a wardrobe that coordinated (unlike mine). With summer currently scorching South Wales (erm ... Wales, not Australia) I've already run out of clothes to wear that aren't vest tops or too small t-shirts. So I have decided to get myself a plan!

I am going to clear out everything I don't like/ don't wear/ don't want. I'll eBay everything that's new/ never been worn/ still got loads of life, including accessories, jewellery and shoes. Anything that doesn't sell will go to the charity shops.

As I'm sick of buying clothes that don't go with my wardrobe/ are impulse buys/ don't fit properly* from now on I'm only allowed to buy items I can't make, such as jumpers and shoes, everything else I will have to sew myself. And if I do buy, I must buy second hand only (like I need an excuse to eBay!).

The Perfect Wardrobe plan calls for only 10 items to be made. These are: 2 pairs of trousers; 2 skirts, one in a solid colour, one in a print or check; 2 simple tops, one solid, one in the above print; 1 dress; 2 tops, in colours which coordinate with the solids; 1 simple jacket in a solid colour.

To begin, choose 2 basic colors that suit your skin tone. Most people fall into a 'season', be it Summer, Spring, Autumn or Winter, and this will help determine what shades of colours to wear. I'm still trying to decide whether I'm an Autumn or a Winter so for the moment I've gone for more Autumn shades and have chosen brown and blue as my basic colours, mostly because I already have a lot of clothes in these colours and - more importantly - shoes and handbags in these colours!

You then add a third complementary color (I'm greedy and am adding two). Any prints you use should include the two basic colours in it. So, for example: brown and blue might be your basic colours too. Add a skirt in yellow, a print in blue/ brown, and let the 4 tops be the fun colours that spice up the wardrobe. You could add rust or ivory to this colour selection. And you can't lose with black and white, in fact if you wanted you can make an entirely monochrome wardrobe quite successfully!

I've put together a table below, illustrating The Plan. I'll change the icons to patterns and then the finished garments once I've completed them. I already know that one pair of trousers will be my 40's style jeans I'm planning on making (reproduced pattern from Eva Dress) and the dress will be the new Frock by Friday project Kathleen of Grosgrain is running next week. The jeans are going to be in a dark blue denim. The dress is going to be in yellow (inspired by the Freelancers Fashion Blog, who has fabulous fashion taste), I'm trying to wear more colour and she made yellow look so stylish!

Trousers Trousers Skirt Skirt
Simple Top Simple Top Dress Colour Scheme
Top Top Jacket

* I can see I'm going to be seriously abusing the forward slash symbol in this post! 

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Project: Simplicity 4597 { Notes }

aka The Tardy Birthday Present.

Yes, it's finally over. A year and two months in the making (or four days of actual sewing and a year and two months of panicking) and Simplicity 4597 is done. Finis. Gorffen.

This is my first commercial pattern (i.e. not one of Tone Finnanger's creations) ever completed without help from my Mother. In fact, it's my first commercial pattern ever finished when not being helped by my Mother. I have to admit, it was only the thought of Jemma's face when, for the second year running, I failed to give her the present I'd been promising that made me keep going. It appears I have a low boredom threshold.

The pockets were a nightmare and my pleating leaves a lot to be desired. I was determined to do this properly, basting where told, etc, etc, etc. That lasted a day. I hadn't marked up the fabric properly with all the dots and lines necessary to pleat and stitch correctly, not through complete lack of trying but mostly because on the tote bag you're working with the right side of the fabric and I'd marked the back.

The front pockets were over pleated and pleated in the wrong place and so became too short for the side of the bag. Impatient and unsure how else to fix I just pinked the edges and stitched down, making the pocket edges decorative instead. Due to a mistake on the side pockets (who forgets to add the bias tape to the edges before stitching the pleats into place?!) I did the same thing there too. Thankfully, it looks like it's supposed to look like that.

The fabric was quite a heavyweight material, probably more for upholstering than crafting, but I thought it would help the bag keep its shape, particularly as the only interfacing the shop had was lightweight.

I liked the colours, this is after all for the garden, and the lining and the pockets matched whilst being different designs.

The pattern was relatively easy to follow, even for my novice status. I got a little confused only when sewing on the lower side pockets because it meant stitching down the middle of the bigger pockets behind it, something I found (and still do find) a little strange. But I guess it needed to be secured somehow, and with five working pockets on the front and back and a pocket on either side it's not like you'll miss the 13th and 14th pocket that's been reduced by the stitching!

All in all I'm really pleased with the outcome. I just hope the handles are stitched to the bag well enough to take some weight and that nothing starts falling to pieces. I checked it over for holes and loose threads and couldn't find anything so I'm hopeful that it'll hold up.

I did forget to mention, in my card to Jemma, that this was a bag for the garden so who knows what she'll make of it as a random bag she receives! It also occurred to me that spraying the bag with a waterproofing spray available for shoes might be a good idea, but I forgot to mention that too!

Here's hoping she likes it!

Thanks for stopping by,

17 May 2010

Schuh Fetish

Oh dear, Houston we have a problem! I have a shoe fetish, I lurves shoes. And I've just discovered that the major brands have outlet stores on eBay to get rid of ex-show stock and the like.
{ Source: eBay }

There are some fabulous shoes on there, not just retro ones but all sorts. I hate it when I have no money!

{ Source: eBay }

So if you have money, visit http://outlet.ebay.co.uk/fashion for shoes, clothes, bags and accessories from all the major brands but at outlet prices!

Erm ... I should probably mention they're not paying me to tell you about this, I just get a little excited over shoes.

Thanks for stopping by,

Project: Frock by Friday

{ Source: Grosgrain }

Kathleen of Grosgrain is once again doing a Frock by Friday tutorial, this time for a shirtwaisted dress that has oh so many options it's too fabulous for words.

I didn't go any further than printing and taping the pattern together on the last Frock by Friday dress Kathleen did, as much as I liked the dress it wasn't something I'd wear and I decided that although I needed the practice I should perhaps stick to things I'd use. This, I'd wear and I'm looking forward to getting started on it today.

Thanks for stopping by,

16 May 2010

Project: Simplicity 4597

... or rather, I'm making this.

{ Simplicity 4597 Gardening Tote, Aprons & Visor }

Best friend, Jemma, she of the Twinwood Festival in August, is a wonderful gardener. She adores puttering around in her veggie patches or re-doing her flower bed by the patio for the nth time. So last year, for her birthday on May 25th, I thought I would make her the above tote and one of the aprons. Unfortunately, I'm still making them.

I don't have an awful lot of sewing experience, not from commercial patterns anyway. I've made a couple of dresses, both with help from Mum, a pair of trousers that I adapted into a Star Trek uniform when I was about 13 and that's actually about it. Most recently I've been making things from the Tone Finnanger books Sew Pretty Homestyle and Sew Pretty Christmas Homestyle. I can't wax lyrical enough about how wonderful and easy the projects in her books are (nor how pretty!).

And I think I got very very scared by the pattern which I don't think is easy and involves pleating and ... stuff. Poor Jemma's been waiting over a year for her present and I finally decided to grow a pair and make the damn thing. I'm surprised by how well I've been doing. I've only had to rip 1 seam out (despite actually, if I was being incredibly picky, needing to rip 5 or 6 due to stoopid cotton twirling as it seamed), my pockets have been pleated, a little too much so now it's too small for the side of the tote, but I can work with that. All in all, it's going together nicely. So far. I'm only on the third instruction so there's plenty of room for disaster yet!

In the hope that I do actually finish it by Friday so I can post it off to her in time for Tuesday I've also made a pig with wings as I'm sure she thought she'd receive this present when pigs started flying. I love the pig so much that I'm going to have to make myself one too!

Thanks for stopping by,

15 May 2010

Vintage Fashion Fair

Sunday was the Blind Lemon Vintage Fashion Fair in the Coal Exchange in Cardiff Bay. I was right, it was a fabulous building! Lots of wood and carvings (of dragon's faces!), I imagine it was an impressive place in its heyday.

AnnaP and I arrived nice and early. First thing early. Anna's Swedish, married to a guy up the road and I met her walking their two dogs. We hit it off and one of the things she'd mentioned is that she loves vintage. What could I do but invite her to the fashion fair?

We left the village at about 9am, drove to Cardiff Bay and parked at the Red Dragon Centre where we stopped for coffee and tea cakes and, coincidentally, validated our parking for the entire day, before heading over the way to the Coal Exchange.

The fair was much smaller than the one I'd previously attended, with only about 20 stalls in total, if that. It was small and intimate and I have to admit that the quality of merchandise available was a lot less charity shop and a little more vintage. I think I enjoyed this fair more, the atmosphere and the quality far surpassed that of my previous experience.

AnnaP and I trawled through all the stalls, twice (just in case!). AnnaP likes taking vintage jewellery and re-working it into something new. I was looking for a compact (again) and patterns. And we were both rooting for the £100 prize draw at noon so we could go nuts and buy everything we coveted. Alas, it was not to be. If we had arrived one person earlier we would have been in heaven, unfortunately most of the merchandise remained out of our price range.

I did, however, find 5 patterns and a head scarf (no compact, boo!) so I counted the day as a win! I also managed to fit into a 50's dress, although - once again - I didn't manage to get out of it (or into it) alone. The back was fastened with little covered buttons that were impossible to open and close by myself, poor AnnaP had to button me in and then get me out again. Also included in the day, as a bonus to ourselves, was a trip to Ikea and Bhs where I bought muslin and a tea pot (and sweets!). All in all, a fab day out!

Some fab undies we found almost immediately upon arriving

The carved dragons heads on every supporting arch, aren't they cool?

Yummy bag that AnnaP fell in love with

Finally a 1950's dress that fit my waist ... shame about the rest of me!

{ Bestway C.203 two-way slip and knicker set }

{ Style Print 1421 }

{ Butterick 3058 }
(don't ask me why, I have no clue, I have no partner to sew it for)

{ Le Roy Pattern 2322 maternity dress and smock }
(again, don't ask me why, because unless I'm the new Virgin Mary I'm not wearing this any time soon!)

{ Butterick 2198 Misses lingerie coordinates }
Possibly my favourite (I can't wait to make view D!)

Thanks for stopping by,

8 May 2010

Wales and Other Myths

I've just channel surfed. This is Very Unusual for me. Having worked in telly I long ago lost interest in watching any television that wasn't sci-fi, historical or a rocking good film. This is a shame because in this unusual bout of channel surfing I came across a Channel 4 series called Blitz Street and discovered that the current episode was the penultimate in a short series about life in Britain during the Blitz.

I mention this because, as I peruse other vintage blogs, I've discovered that there are many bloggers who not only talk about vintage and fashion but also about politics, history and feminism. In contrast I feel incredibly shallow and self-absorbed. I'm more likely to talk about shoes than politics, particularly if they're pretty. Same principle regarding my multiple TV boyfriends (but that's a whole other post). I'm shallow, and I'm obviously not so ashamed by this that I won't admit it. Thankfully, what I am not is easy, which is a small redeeming feature in the vast sea of my slightly contradictory personality (especially since Office have a bunch of yummy shoes that are vastly out of my unemployed price range).

I am fascinated by history, I like the individual stories rather than the vast overreaching monologues that get taught in school. The two World Wars are particularly interesting to me, possibly because they're still within living memory and the 40's - in particular - are an era, fashion-wise, that I love. Life during this time was like no other, for good and for bad.

So often you hear of the Blitz and London. Admittedly, London suffered horrifically from Hitler's bombing. Particularly once the V1 was introduced just after D Day. Don't know about the V1? It was 200 kilos of destructive terror. Hitler's first weapon of mass destruction, a jet powered bomb that flew, pilotless, to it's destination and then blew everything up. This was a bomb so powerful that the shockwave alone could kill you. Barrage balloons were useless against them as they came equipped with wire cutters. Ground to air guns were not getting the job done. The RAF were charged with stopping the threat any way they could, but Spitfire pilots realised that whilst shooting them down would often blow up the bomb, chances were you'd blow yourself up too. They went back to the drawing board and came up with the craziest plan. Evah. They would fly in close formation with the V1, put their wing under the wing of the bomb which would create a pressure pad between the two, allowing them to roll it. Once it began rolling its onboard gyro's crashed and the V1 fell out of the sky. If they could intercept them early enough they could force them to crash (and explode) in unpopulated areas.

What doesn't seem to be so widely talked about is that London wasn't the only place targeted. Hitler had previously set his sights on destroying ports in an effort to starve Britain out of the war once he realised that bombing London with his SC series bombs wasn't doing the job. Britain was taking everything he could throw at it and still refusing to give in (we're stubborn like that). With the introduction of the V1, various ports around the country were again targeted, as were areas of significant industry. Places as far north as Aberdeen were bombed by the V1. In Manchester, Liverpool and Bristol alone 7,500 fatalities were recorded. Swansea and Cardiff were both bombed, for their ports and their mining industry. The people who lived in my village could see the explosions lighting up the sky behind the mountain.

{ Source: Living Mags }
Pantback Road, Cardiff

Which brings me to the point of this particular post (I bet you were wondering). I've long been curious about the effect the war had on life in South Wales and, in particular, the village I'm living in. I know that the viaduct that used to cross the valley was destroyed by the local government, I can only assume it was in order to reduce the risk of bombing as it used to take coal from the mines to the ports. But it is exactly this sort of information I want to find out. The houses here have been through two World Wars, the rise and fall of the coal industry, six monarchs (um .. Victoria, Edward, George, another Edward, another George and finally Elizabeth) and local youths setting fire to anything and everything. So I want to do some digging, I'm going to start with the local library. Programmes to research are The Coal House At War by BBC Wales, a social experiment where a three families were off to live life as it was in a mining community during 1944, air raids included (and as someone who's been woken up at 3am by an air raid siren I feel for these people). 1940's House has also been mentioned and is one I shall be trying to get my hands on.

But in the meantime I'm going to take advantage of 4oD and watch the previous three episodes of Blitz Street!

Thanks for stopping by,

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