Moss grainline skirt in denim

This is my new favourite skirt. One of those things you finish and immediately put on and never want to take off.

It’s an amazing pattern. Everything goes together super smoothly. And quickly too – I made it in one mammoth sewing session on Friday night, it took about 4 episodes of The Bugle podcast.

The Grainline instructions are brilliant. The zipper is sort of like a magic trick – suddenly a fly front appears out of nowhere. Or maybe that’s just me, I’m not the most spatially minded person in the world. Sewing it reminded me of reading this book about the credit crunch. It all makes perfect sense at the time, with a smart person guiding you through each step, but afterwards everything seems to evaporate (but at least with this you end up with a nice skirt, rather than some confused ideas about how sub-prime mortgages work).

My lovely Bernina sewed through all this thick denim like a champ. In some places she was chugging through about 8 layers of fabric. But even the inside looks nice!

I didn’t lengthen the skirt at all, and without the hem band it would be ridiculously short on me, but I love the length with the band.

The only tips I’d give if you want to make this are:

  • The seam allowance is half an inch (ie. 12.5cm) I aimed somewhere between the 10mm and 15mm line on my feed plate and hoped for the best.
  • Check your printer settings if you’re in the UK- it’s designed for US letter paper so you might need to adjust things a bit to get it to print out accurately.
  • Finish the centre front seams before doing the fly (do them separately) – I did it afterwards and there’s a bit of fraying at the top.

Next time I might add back pockets and belt loops.

It only took about a metre of my Peter Jensen denim, which cost me £1. Yes, that’s a quid. You can barely get two Kit-Kats for that price nowadays. And I already have the fabric picked out for my next version.

I highly recommend this pattern. And if you buy it today there’s 15% off!

p.s. I have to show you my dachshund brooch, which I bought at a vintage fair a few years ago and recently found in an old handbag. See, it pays not to be too organised. If you’re tidy you never make happy little discoveries like this.

Digital print dress from a vintage 60s pattern

So, I’ve never claimed to be the fastest seamstress in the world (or even in Stoke Newington). But 7 months from fabric to completion is probably some kind of record. Yes, I finally made something with the beautiful fabric given to me by Our Patterned Hand in, ahem, May.

And here it is:

Ta da!

I actually finished this more than a month ago, but I wanted to re-take the photos in some better light. However the chances of daylight, the dress, and my photographic assistant all coinciding any time in the 2 months are slim to non-existent, so these would have to do.

Thank you SO much to Our Patterned Hand for this amazing fabric. I dithered for months about what to make, and settled on this 1960s pattern I got in a job lot on Ebay years ago.

As you can see, I’m meticulously careful with my vintage patterns

I love the hair and the Pat Butcher earrings on the envelope.

The only change I made was adding a bias strip along the high waist line. I put in an invisible zip without great success – I think that’s what’s caused this pulling on the back (although partly it’s just the way I’m slouching)

I’ve had it up to here with invisible zips. My special Bernina foot just grabs on to them and puckers the fabric. I’m taking this one out and putting in a lapped one, I think.

I just need somewhere to wear this now! It may well end up being my birthday dress in a couple of weeks.

Here’s a close-up of the awesomeness of the fabric.

Moth Love from Tatty Devine

Have you ever had clothes moths?

Our old Victorian house was totally riddled with them. You couldn’t get a cardigan out of a drawer without discovering a new hole. Eventually we traced them back to a large, rolled-up carpet in the basement that was acting as a huge moth housing complex. There were generations of families living in that thing.

They don’t seem to have followed us to our new flat (yet), but apart from the evil clothes variety, most moths are beautiful. No, really.  Moths are much cooler than butterflies.

That’s why I love this moth necklace from Tatty Devine:

Isn’t it amazing?

I have to admit I’m biased as I spent lots of this summer freelancing at Tatty Devine, part of which was writing product descriptions for their AW12 range. Probably the best job ever (all day looking at and writing about gorgeous jewellery – yes please). But the moths are definitely my favourite. They also do a green moth necklace, which is expensive but beautiful, and moth brooches and earrings too.

What do you reckon, are moths creepy or attractive? Here is a clue as to the right answer:

p.s. You can also get these amazing iron-on moth patches for nibbled clothing from Twisted Twee.

p.p.s. I’m thinking moths should be the new Etsy/hipster wildlife of choice, replacing foxes, birds, cats, bears, trees, and deer etc etc etc

Giraffe print blouse – Burda 10/2011 #118

What kind of print do you call this then?

I think it looks like a blue and white giraffe, or a super-magnified lizard skin, or some seriously wonky tiling.

It’s made from this pattern. Just a very simple blouse with just two bust darts. The instructions were short and cryptic (of course, it is Burda after all) and I totally ignored the construction order. Much easier to sew in the armholes flat, then do the sides and the sleeve seams all in one so you can take it in if needed.

This fabric is lush, a very drapey but sturdy vintage crepe, from The Shop on Cheshire Street, AKA my favourite shop on Brick Lane. I can spend ages in there rummaging. All the fabric is folded up on shelves but they don’t seem to mind me pulling it all out and making a huge mess. There are wooden drawers full of lace and trimmings, and everything’s pretty reasonable too. Think this was less than a tenner for 2 metres.

I do think covered buttons look look very polished on a blouse like this, but is there anything worse than making them? So I was lucky to find these at the Peter Jensen sale.

I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m all about the finished result when it comes to sewing. I love day-dreaming about what I’m going to make – it all looks so perfect in my head. I’m not that interested in construction for it’s own sake. In fact I tend to skip reading sew-alongs and detailed technical instructions on other people’s blogs.

Ironically this always leads me to rush the actual sewing part to get to the wearing, which naturally leads to things I make looking a bit crap. For example, the buttonholes on this are rubbish. Too short and skimpily threaded. (tho luckily I only need to undo the top one to get the blouse on and off).

There’s some kind of life lesson in there somewhere, but it’s probably too late to change my slapdash ways.

I think this is why I hate most things I make immediately after I’ve finished them. They just don’t match up to the vision I had at the start. I usually come round to them in the end (I also made the skirt I’m wearing, I never blogged it because I didn’t like it but meh, actually it’s okay. Apart from the zip at the back.)

Overall I’m pretty pleased with this blouse. It looks great tucked into things, but don’t think I’ll be wearing it loose. There’s a distinct early 90s vibe, I can just see Elaine from Seinfeld rocking it with a massive boxy jacket on top.

(I know the 90s are supposed to be in fashion, or at least a version of them, but it’s not for me. All I can think of is ‘The Rachel’ and oversized Nirvana t-shirts. I seem to remember wearing brown corduroy flares for much of the decade and I don’t want to go back to there.)

Thoughts on the V+A Hollywood exhibition, plus giveaway

I’ve been looking forward to this exhibition for at least a year. Did it live up to the hype?

YES is the short answer. It’s a blockbuster, alright. Stupidly I went during half-term and it was the busiest I’ve ever seen the V&A. We had to queue for 30 minutes even with my members card.

But it was worth waiting for, although equally packed inside (I skipped most of the first room as it was just too rammed).

The first impression you get is of the digital set-dressing. Most of the mannequins have the wearer’s face projected above, moving and looking alive (think Harry Potter style). In the second room, you get to meet costume designers and actors, virtually – they’re projected onto chairs and seem to be talking to each other. As well as this there’s a virtual sketchbook that flip pages as you watch, and digital 3D ‘props’. It’s very impressive.

You can see the digital faces in this pic. Side note: Daniel Craig’s costume was disappointingly short in real life.

The costumes are spectacular, and there’s something for every film lover (Bruce Willis’s sweaty vest from Die Hard, anyone?). My highlight was seeing one of the suits the character Rachel wears in Bladerunner. It’s got bands of graduating fabric running up the jacket, massive 80s-meets-40s shoulder pads, and a tiny bow at the neck. I wish it were mine.

A sketch of Rachel’s Bladerunner costume by the designer Michael Kaplan

Another highlight was this bias-cut, beaded crimson gown, Joan Crawford’s va-va-voom signature dress from The Bride Wore Red. This was a black and white movie, and cleverly they’ve set up a spotlight that fades in and out, so you can see it in full-colour, and then in monochrome as it appeared on film. (Apparently this dress had 2 million bugle beads hand-attached!)

There were a few things that I didn’t love:

  • It’s incredibly dark. I know this is probably for conservation reasons but it makes it frustratingly difficult to see any detail.
  • The digital faces are a decent solution to a tricky problem (identifying the actor/character without going all Madam Tussauds) but the overall impression was a bit cartoonish.
  • You’re very far away from some of the costumes, especially in the third room.
  • The constant swelling music was atmospheric, like sitting in a darkened cinema before a film, but after half an hour it began to grate heavily on my nerves.

Despite this, it’s an amazing exhibition and I’m definitely going back for another look. Does anyone else want to come? Maybe we could do a little meet-up in December or January? Let me know if you’re interested dudes!

I also have a V&A related GIVEAWAY to offer! Well, less of a giveaway, and more of a ‘please take me’.

It’s two tickets to a members talk on Jazz Age fashion at the V&A on the 9th NovVirginia Bates (who owns a famous vintage boutique) will be showing some 20s clothes and talking about her new book – Dressed to Kill: Jazz Age Fashion.

I bought these tickets as a birthday present for a friend and was really looking forward to it, but my friend has had to go to Rio unexpectedly (oh for such a glamorous life) and I have rather predictably double-booked myself on the same night.

Rather than try and off-load them on Gumtree, I thought someone who reads my blog might appreciate this talk. You need to be free on the 9th (this Friday!) and able to get to the V&A by 7pm. Here’s all the info about the event.

If anyone can make it and is interested, just leave a comment below saying that you’d like the tickets, by Wednesday at 10am. If more than one person wants them I’ll pick someone at random.

If no-one wants them then I will have to look into cloning myself by Friday so I can attend both events.

Autumn fabric haul

Recently I got bitten by the autumn cleaning bug and had a massive, remorseless clearout. It began with a simple wardrobe tidy. But once I started on the pit of tangled old belts, holey jumpers, and unloved shoes, I just couldn’t stop. I was chucking stuff out left, right and centre in a cleaning frenzy!

One thing that got the chop was a bag of old fabric scraps. Do you keep these? If you sew a lot, you end up with so many odd pieces. I know Pinterest is full of ideas for using them up, but they’re nearly all useless. I have no need to decoupage my make-up brushes, or make a ‘post-it note holder’. I prefer my post-its naked, if it’s all the same to you.

I do keep the bigger pieces for collars/pocket linings.

(Top tip – offer fabric scraps on Freecycle. You’ll get tons of replies. Last time I gave mine to a school project to make a UK map out of textiles. Which is awesome.)

I ended up with a severely diminished wardrobe, and an empty fabric stash. So the Peter Jensen sample sale came at exactly the right time.

It was madness in there – I went with the lovely bloggers Elisalex, Kathryn, and Alison at 10am, and it was nearly stripped bare by noon, with just a few forlorn scraps left. I’m suffering from non-buyers remorse quite badly (why didn’t I buy some of that orange lace??) but here’s what I did snaffle:

2 metres of mustard yellow cotton canvas – £4

This is almost like a heavy cheesecloth, in a very bright mustard colour. It’s probably going to be a pleated skirt from this vintage pattern. Having trouble deciding on a pleat/pocket combo.

3 metres of denim – £3 (a pound a metre! Why didn’t I get more??)

Er, another skirt? This fabric is super-nice, it’s very drapey for denim and is a great 70s blue.

2.5 metres of khaki stiff cotton – £10

This is DEFINITELY (probably) going to be a Minoru, if I have enough fabric. Although I need to actually buy the pattern first.

3 metres of cappucino coloured dotted swiss – £7.50

This fabric is gorgeous. The photo doesn’t really do it justice – it’s more of a milky coffee colour with lighter dots. No idea what to make with this – suggestions welcome! Elisalex also got some, I might wait and see what she makes and then copy it sneakily.

I also got all these buttons and a scrap of orange-y fabric with an unusual sueded texture, which is too small to do anything with really. Still, it was only a pound.

Total spend? £24.50. BARGAIN.

I could have bought so much more, but managed to restrain myself. My main plan this autumn/winter is to sew lots of separates so I was looking for suitable skirt fabrics.

Now to find the time to actually sew. Anyone got a couple of spare hours for sale? Will swap for digestives.