Sunday, 28 September 2014

First of the a-lines & other stories...

Hello there fellow sewing enthusiasts! I hope your week has been fun and productive! 

Mine has :-) 

I have completed my first a-line skirt. Yey!!


I used McCalls's 3341 view D, which turned out to be just the perfect length for a work skirt. 


Both the pattern and fabric were given to me by a friend who was having a stash clear out...lucky me! 

I'm not sure exactly what the fabric is but I'm pretty sure it has wool content. It was just perfect for this project. 

And check this out...my first lapped zipper. It's not perfect but I'm pretty proud of my first attempt. 


I tried searching the internet for instructions on how to do this but i couldn't find any I could follow all the way through. So, I turned to my vintage sewing books. I picked these two beauties up in charity shops. I love them! 


The McCall's seems to be from the 60s and The Complete Dressmaker from the 70s. They both have great step by step instructions and are great for dipping into for vintage techniques. 


I wore the resulting skirt to work and then on to a presentation at Hartlepool's Historic Quay on 'Women and the Great War'. It was a great mix of lecture, theatre and costume and was delivered by Lucy Adlington and Meredith Towne from History Wardrobe

There were some great costumes on display...I couldn't resist examining one or two of them for research purposes ;-)

I love historical and vintage clothing. I love that each item has a history an once meant something to someone. 


I purchased the accompanying book which is also fab. I'd recommend it if you're interested in learning more about the lives of women during the Great War. 


And here's an action shot of my skirt...


Still growing out my fringe!!


Hello sailor!!

That's the HMS Trincomalee behind me. It is apparently the oldest warship still afloat. It's a pretty amazing backdrop too!!!

So do any of you out there own old sewing books? How do you feel they compare to new books? Is anyone else fascinated by historical dress? 

Have a super week folks!

Love, Eliza Brown x

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Well hello there!!
 
Another Sunday is upon us...where does the time go??!
 
I'm afraid I don't have a new make to feature this week (don't worry, I've had a very stern word with myself and slapped my wrist). I have been rather enjoying myself at the Saltaire Festival this weekend. Me and Mr B caught up with some friends, much alcohol was consumed and some bad dancing.
 
I have actually completed my first A-line skirt of the autumn/winter season but I haven't had a chance to wear it and photograph it. Soooo, I thought I'd present an unblogged make from some time ago.
 
Do you remember when it was sunny?
 
During the summer I wanted to make a floaty top that would be nice and cool in the hot weather. I went through my pattern stash and found New Look 6915. I picked this pattern up in a job lot from a closing down sale so I'd not made it before.
 
 
I picked view E but instead of using a ribbon to gather it at the bottom, I used a very narrow elastic.
 
With it not being a fitted garment I just went ahead and cut out my size in fashion fabric. The fabric I used I had picked up from Shipley Market. I'm not sure of it's content, although I'm pretty sure it's synthetic. It does have a lovely drape though, ideal for this project.
 
And here is the finished product...
 
 

I'm still trying to grow out my fringe. It's not quite long enough to tuck behind my ear yet so I'm having to get creative with plaits.
 

These pics were taken on a day out at Saltburn beach. It was a lovely day and I thought the underside of the pier made an interesting backdrop.
 
There were some interesting techniques involved in this make. The back neck has a bias tape facing. The cowl neck turned out to be a bit troublesome. I chose to finish the edge with the overlocker which bunched the fabric up a bit. It took a bit of work but I managed to stretch the fabric back out again.


 
I think the only change I would make to this pattern if I were to make it again would be to lengthen the body a bit. It tends to ride up quite a way if I raise my arms above my head. Not that I go around waving my arms in the air often but you never know when you might need to participate in a Mexican wave!

In other news, I bought a great 1950s dress pattern from the Saltaire Vintage Fair today. I love the interesting neckline and I'm dying to try bound button holes. So far I've gotten away with using zips for everything so I'm looking forward to giving this a go. I also love the pockets hidden in the pleats of the skirt.

 
I will of course be sticking to my plan and make a few more wardrobe staples before tackling this dress. But it is sooooo pretty!!
 
Anywho, that's it for now folks. Hope you enjoy the rest of your Sunday. See you soon!
 
Love, Eliza Brown x

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Back to basics...

Have you ever been so frustrated with a make that you felt like drop-kicking your sewing machine across the room?

That's how I felt making this dress. 



Apologies for the blurry picture. I was harassing Mr B to take these pics in a hurry because my shoes were killing me!!

I love the excitement of a new challenge, a new garment, a new technique to learn. However, I've been daunted lately by the sheer number of adjustments I have to make to new patterns. It's a lot of work when you just want a pretty new dress for an occasion.

I wanted to make a dress for the christening I attended today. So I bought this lovely fabric from Linens in Hartlepool. It was £14.50 a meter (extravagant for me!) so I only bought two meters. That meant that mistakes were not an option. 

I got the Simple Sew Ruby dress pattern free in the last issue of Love Sewing magazine and I thought it was a match made in heaven. 

However, this fabric has a slight stretch to it so despite making two muslins to get the fit just right, when I made it up in my fashion fabric it was HUGE! 

I also had the bright idea of using bias tape as a facing since I didn't have much fashion fabric spare and I didn't have any other slightly stretchy material to line the bodice with. This went horribly wrong and resulted in unsightly puckering. 

By this time it was Saturday night and the dress needed to be finished. I was pulling my hair out!

As a last resort I used my overlocker to finish the raw edges around the neck, arms and hem and top stitched them down. 



Not elegant by any means. 

I read this this post by Lynne from Ozzy Blackbeard the other day and realised that I'm not alone in having to completely alter commercial patterns before they even come close to fitting correctly. Like Lynne, I have also signed up to Suzy Furrer's Craftsy classes on making bodice and skirt slopers. I'm hoping that getting back to basics might be the way to go. I can then draft my own patterns which will hopefully fit like a dream...I will keep you posted. 

Sadly I have no photos of this dress in action as I was the one taking photos. I did however take this shot of the church. Isn't it lovely? 


So in closing, does anyone else out there struggle with fit? Have you made a sloper? Are there any other methods of ensuring the perfect fit?

Enjoy the rest of your Sunday folks :-)

Love, Eliza Brown x


Sunday, 7 September 2014

I'm baaaaaaaaaack!!!

Hello there everyone! 


It feels like forever since my last post. Sadly I had to take an unexpected break from blogging. I won't depress you with the details (it's Sunday night, everyone has enough to think about with Monday morning looming!!) but both myself and a family member have had some ill health. As a result, I've had to take a step back and consider what I can manage. I'm pleased to say that now things have calmed down somewhat I will be continuing with both sewing and blogging. I just need to get a bit more organised. 

To help me be consistent in my blogging, Sundays will be my blogging day. Sundays are mostly relaxed so they are good for my creativity. 

I've also come to the conclusion that I need to be more focussed with my makes. Having come to the conclusion during Me Made May that I needed more solid wardrobe staples and workwear, I haven't done particularly well on that score. I just can't resist making those pretty dresses!!! 

So I have been perusing fashion magazines and Pinterest for autumn/winter makes. 

There seems to be a bit of a sixties mod vibe this autumn which I'm totally excited by. I loved these looks taken from the September issue of Vogue. 





A-line skirts and little mod dresses will be great for weekend wear and possibly casual days at work. 


I love the pairing of a little dress and a masculine oversized tailored jacket. I still have yet to challenge myself to make something tailored so I might have to give this a try...soon.

For workwear I want to go for something a little more 'Mad Men' inspired. I found these great images...




(Credit: eonline.com)


(Credit: totallyagirl.com)

These looks are totally me so I'm very excited about starting on this. 

So this is my plan. I still have a few past projects to post so there will be plenty to keep me blogging for some time yet. 

Has anyone else out there started planning their winter wardrobe? What is inspiring you right now? 

Have a great Sunday evening folks!!

Love, Eliza Brown x

Saturday, 5 July 2014

When Flora met Matilda

Hi there everyone, 

So with all the best intentions of making loads of wardrobe staples and workwear after Me Made May...I went and made a  Flora dress!!

What can I say, I was seduced by the lovely wrap bodice variation and the great pictures on the By Hand London website. I couldn't resist. 

Now, for a pattern that indicates that this is an easy sew (only one of the four little sewing machines on the front of the packet is shaded) this was AMAZINGLY difficult!

I had read a few reviews of this pattern that said there were some fitting issues. However, given that every body is different I decided to go ahead and give it a go. 

I know that I always need to do a full bust adjustment and usually need to remove excess from the armholes on dresses made from woven fabrics. So I was prepared to make one or two muslins...I lost count after FIVE!

The dart placement was my main issue. Unless your boobs sit directly under your armpits, then this pattern is going to need some tweeking. 

However, the week's worth of work was definitely worth it. I also found the Flora sewalong really helpful; especially with techniques I hadn't tried before like stabilising the neckline with twill tape. 

And here is the finished product...


The fabric was purchased for me by Mr B. I had been coveting this lovely Matilda fabric for weeks and one day it just appeared in my sewing room!


Who didn't just love Roald Dahl stories as a kid? 

The illustrations are by Quentin Blake and will be familiar to Dahl fans. 

You can purchase this fabric from lots of places on the internet but this was bought from Dunelm Mill. Oh yeah, this is an upholstery fabric...but who cares??

I wore this for a night out on Hartlepool Marina with Mr B and I got loads of compliments! I think the fabric caught people's eye. 

I teamed the dress with a sequinned scarf given to me by my mother-in-law and the shoes were from Dorothy Perkjns about two years ago. 


Cheers everyone!!

Love  Eliza Brown x

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Cartoon madness...

Hi there, long time no see!!

I feel like I have been missing in action for a little while. However, I have not been idle. I have loads of projects to share with you in the coming weeks.

I have also been contemplating what, if anything, I want to do with this blog.

I have been reading with interest all the recent posts about pattern testing and honest reviewing of independent pattern companies. I'm certainly not going to rehash those debates here. I'm sure you are all sick to death of reading about it now. 

It did make me think about what I enjoy reading about on the blogs I follow and what do I want to contribute to the sewing community and blogosphere in general?

After much scratching of my head, I decided to get back to grass roots. What I most enjoy about the sewing community is the inspiration it gives me. Whether or not people are being very polite about a badly drafted pattern, I enjoy reading reviews, finding out what patterns and fabric are available and giving it a go for myself. We are all made differently so what works for me won't work for others and vice versa. 

Despite my limited sewing skills, I wanted to share my experiences and, hopefully, help others in the same boat!

So with all of that said, here is a show and tell project... yes it's another Dixie DIY Ballet Dress. I won't bore you with details. I think I've adequately covered this dress pattern now lol. 


Having seen the cute dresses made with the Home Sewing is Easy fabric; especially Gertie's and Roisin's, I was thrilled when I spotted this jersey material in Linens in Hartlepool. 

There isn't really a plot to it, it's more of a collection of odd cartoons with a Caribbean beach background. Here are some highlights...


It's educational as well as fun!!


Is she not sure if we're welcome or if it's a party?? Punctuation fail!!


Oh dear! Is she so drunk she has mistaken the fish tank for the beach? 


Who's this Teddy? Is he the perv with the camera in the bushes?


Clearly the Elizabeth Taylor lookalike doesn't mind Teddy's voyeurism!!

This is such fun fabric and soooo comfy. I think this is going to be a firm favourite over the summer!

Ta ta for now. 

Love, Eliza Brown x

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Musings on Me Made May...

Hi there!

I can't believe it's June already! But the good thing is the sun has been shining, giving me the opportunity to wear some of my summer makes. 

Mr B and I decided to have a couple of days in York last week however the weather was terrible, it tipped down the entire time (hence the hotel room photos). We did still have a fun time though and I picked up a couple of vintage patterns from Oxfam too!!

So last week was mostly sponsored by the Dixie DIY Ballet Dress. On Tuesday I wore the first Ballet dress I made. It's super comfy...


Apologies for the dreadful posture in some of these photos!

On Wednesday I wore my second Ballet dress...


And, as pledged, I made something I'd never attempted before to wear on the final day of May...TROUSERS!!!


Just look at those beauties!! Those legs are sooo wide! They are riddled with mistakes but I still love them. I used New Look 6896 which I thought had the perfect 1930s wide-legged styling I wanted to try. 


I was a big nervous of making anything too fitted in case I botched it so I thought this would be perfect for my first attempt at trousers. 

The material is a very lightweight wool given to me by a friend. I wasn't too keen on the colour so it thought it would make a great wearable muslin...and it did. 

Unfortunately, other than the waistband, I had already put the these together before I realised they were far too big! So, I had to take them in at the side seams which made the pockets very narrow. 

Now that I have tried trousers I think I'll be making many more. They were surprisingly easy. 

This leads me nicely to what I have learned throughout Me Made May...

I'm now much more confident in wearing my me-mades. 

I definitely need to introduce more colour. A lot of my makes are in dark colours. 

I need more wardrobe staples (hence all the ballet dresses!!) vintage style girndl dresses are lovely but not always practical. I need to strike more of a balance between style and function I think! 

I desperately need more workwear. My work wardrobe is very limited and I'd like to experiment with different styles. Maybe a few practical day dresses and pencil skirts?

I loved taking part in Me Made May and will definitely be taking part next year with a more challenging pledge!

But for now I will sign off. Enjoy your day whatever you decide to make or do!

Love, Eliza Brown x