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...



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

Monday, 26 May 2014

Sewing pattern jackpot...and Me Made May!

Hi there!

I'm a little late posting my Me Made May for last week. In actual fact, I wore a grand total of three me made items last week (woohoo)! However, I only managed to photograph one (bad blogger)! 

Anyway, the me made I did capture was this flowery creation I made last summer (pre-blogging). 

This was New Look 6896.

It was such an easy make. There were very few pattern peices and I made minimal adjustments to the fit...which is not like me at all!! I think the reason is that the shape is very forgiving. 

The fabric is a floral budget stretch sateen that I bought because I liked the feel. However, it's not the best quality fabric. 

I am quite happy with the skirt overall though. It's ideal for summer days when you want something to kick about the garden in. 

In other news, last week I happened upon a fabric shop that was closing down. I was slightly gutted about this because a) I hate to see independent shops close down and b) had I known it was there I would have shopped there before now!! Seriously, I had no idea the shop existed. Now it's too late. 

Anyhoo..they were selling everything off and I managed to pick up this amazing bundle of patterns as well as quite a few meters of fabric which will feature in future blogs. 

I was hurrying back to work after an appointment when I spotted this shop and so I just scooped up a bunch of random patterns. I'm quite excited by some of them. There are some really cool vogue patterns and some 'young burda' patterns. I've never heard of young birds before!!

I have been experimenting with knits using the Dixie DIY Ballet Dress pattern...which I LOVE!! I can't make too many!! But I think some of these patterns will draw me away for a while at least. 

Well, goodbye for now. Enjoy whatever you are making or doing!!

Love Eliza Brown x

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Back to the 90s and Me Made May

Hi Everyone!

It's been an extremely busy week this week with work and family stuff. Needless to say my sewing and blogging has suffered somewhat. 

However, I haven't been idle. Since blogging about my new Dr Martens have been thinking about what I could make to wear with them. 

I had a pair of black DMs back in the 90s that I loved and wore every day for college. This was a great time for me with loads of happy memories. 

So I started to explore the 90s look!

Ok, so not every look in the 90s was a good one!!

But one look I am intrigued by is grunge. 

It's not a look I sported back in the day, I was more of a goth girl believe it or not!!

I love the idea of cute, feminine baby doll and mini dresses with over the knee socks and masculine boots. 

So, after extensive pattern shopping, I have purchased Dixie DIY's Ballet Dress pattern. I'm dying to get stuck in and produce my first stretch knit dress. Watch this space. 

I have also been keeping to my Me Made May pledge and this week I wore my 'Wind in the Willows' brown moleskin skirt. 

This is another make from before I started blogging. I had bought the moleskin fabric to make a dress for a wedding but it went horribly wrong. I managed to salvage some of the fabric and make this plain a-line skirt. It's got a bit of stretch so it's very comfy. 

Well, that's been my week. Is love to hear about your 90s fashion experiences. Does the 90s count as vintage? How old does something have to be to be considered vintage? 

See you soon. 

Love, Eliza Brown x