28 February 2014

Fabric Flower Workshop

Check it out... I managed to teach some lovely people how to make lovely pretty things!

We had our work team away day this week and our boss decided it would be quiet nice for us to do something fun for the last part of the day. She shares my slight obsession with craft so we decided it might be nice to all be able to make something on the day. We decided that some sort of fabric flower would be an excellent choice because not only are they pretty, but they are also simple enough to be able to teach in a short time without needing any specialist equipment. So I was tasked with researching different types of flowers which I could teach to a small group. I am really pleased with how well everyone's flowers came out, they all did an amazing job.

In the end I picked three different techniques to teach. Firstly, I of course went for the same felt flower which I used to make my wedding bouquets. I love making these flowers, they are so simple to do and yet so effective. We had a great discussion about how lovely it would be to make a bunch of these on floristry wire to give as a gift on Mothers day.

Next up we did some lace and button flowers. I got the idea for this one from a brooch which I bought at a craft fair years ago. I love that brooch, but on looking at its construction it is really very simple. The idea is to get a length of lace trim (about 50cm maybe) and just do a simple running stitch across the bottom edge of the trim. You then pull and gather the trim until it is tight and join  the two ends with the remaining thread. You will have a little gap in the middle but this is covered up by sewing or glueing on a cute button or bead to make the centre of the flower.

The last flower we did was a lovely pom pom fabric flower. I have bought so many of these as accessories in my life I can't believe I haven't tried this sooner. Rather than me explain there is an excellent tutorial right here

Aren't they all excellent. I am really pleased with how it all well and I would love to do this kind of thing again, I am thinking maybe a clasp purse workshop? I really want to do a knicker making workshop but that would require patterns and sewing machines and a lot of materials so this one is probably a little way off yet. If anyone wants a better description of any of these flowers let me know. There are however a million (slight exaggeration) tutorials out there already for these types of flowers (where do you think I found them) so I didn't see the point in duplicating them here.

23 February 2014

By Georgia! She's Got It

I am in LOVE with this dress pattern, look at it, its HOT! Truly this really is everything I look for in a dress, sleek, sexy, fitted and a little bit provocative. I am not sure when I might wear it though, its not exactly daytime attire!

Lets start with my utter amazement at the fit. I have never, NEVER been able to buy a dress from the shop that has fitted bust cups where by busts actually fit in the cups. I usually end up with an indecent cleavage, or with the bust line sitting half way up, neither of which are great. But this, look at it, they lovelies fit in them perfectly (well, i still might be a but top busty but I can cope!). This in itself has sold the pattern to me.

I am not going to lie to you though, I have had a love/hate relationship with the construction of this dress the whole way a long. Have you ever made an item of clothing and got so frustrated that even if you finish it you can't bear to look at it because of all the stress it caused? This nearly turned in to one of those, but to no fault of the pattern. I snipped a hole in the middle of the fabric trimming my seam allowance which resulted in my having to unpick, re-cut and re-sew a whole section. I also managed to melt the zip a bit when ironing it. So although I decided to put in a zip to make putting it on easier, it ended up horribly misshapen. I then had to unpick all of that, and just sew up the side seam, thank god for a stretchy fabric. It was so sad as well because my invisible zipper insertion was spot on! In addition to all of that this fabric just will not iron. But despite all of that once I got to the finishing up I am really pleased with how this turned out.

Pattern alterations: Only really the FBA, I had to take in the seams a bit at the stomach but this can be done after sewing so there is no need to re-cut the pattern pieces. Also, if I made this again I would shorten, and widen the straps a bit so I can wear it more easily with a bra underneath.

Two things really helped me out with this pattern as well. I took a handy tip from this weeks Great British Sewing Bee and under stitched the lining on the cups because of the fact the fabric wouldn't iron. It really has made the lining stay more on the inside so thank you GBSB! Also, the pattern uses the same technique adding the bodice to the body as the sweetheart neckline for Ava so I was well away there!

In conclusion I LOVE the pattern, however on this occasion I think I can say I am not 100% happy with the fabric choice. I am still not sure of its occasion, and it just doesn't feel very flattering to me, showing of the lumps and bumps in the wrong places. However I already have a leopard poplin version cut (complete with lining) and I am absolutely in love with Lladybirds blue and black lace version (like so obsessed with this version I have viewed the blog post like 6 times already!) so I will be making my own quiet similar to this.

I can't wait to see everyone else s versions of this dress now. Have you made one, are you planning a version of Georgia of your own? I would love to hear about it.

21 February 2014

Following a Sew Along

Most of you will know that I have been following the By Hand London Georgia sew a long the last couple of weeks. It has been having its ups and downs but the end is in sight so I am quiet happy with that.

Georgia Dress Sewalong - By Hand London 

I thought it would be a good idea to look at why you might consider following a sew along, I mean you get all the instructions in the pattern packet don't you? Of course you do but following a sew along can give you heaps more hints and tips. As a bit of a newbie I found these invaluable and used every single blog post. There were great tips in there for example FBAs which I would have spent hours researching without this. 

So what did I personally get out of this:
Pattern drafting - how to alter the pattern to fit a non standard body size (that's nearly all of us right)
FBA (there was an SBA) as well
Detailed construction images for all variations
Invisible zipper instruction (more on this in a future post!) 
Good fabric suggestions
And finally, but probably best, seeing all the variations other people come up with.. This really is the most exciting bit! 

I also really liked how this timed in real life, I managed to follow along without feeling like I was getting massively behind. 

So if you are thinking of following one, or are a new sewer, I would thoroughly recommend. Most independent pattern companies do them, and you can go back to previous sew a longs even if they are finished and still benefit from all that expert insight. and don't forget, even if you are a seasoned sewer you still might learn something, if not that then you can at least enjoy the inspiration.

Here are some links to past sew a longs from some of the independent pattern companies
And I am sure you can find some others just by checking google

Have you found/ used any sew a longs that you can recommend? I am eager to give another one a go so would welcome any recommendations.


17 February 2014

DIY Panda Balloon Tutorial

Happy Monday to you all, I have a lovely post weekend treat for you today:

We went out for a good friends birthday this weekend and I was tasked by her other half to think about decorations for venue. Its a big birthday, but I didn't want to rub it in, because although she is a wonderfully social person, she doesn't like to be made a fuss of. So I got to thinking about what she loves, and she LOVES Panda's (who doesn't love a cute fluffy panda?).

So I got ebaying and googling to find some panda balloons to buy for the occasion. Much to my surprise there is a distinct lack of (cute) panda balloons out there. So I then thought to myself, ok, you must be able to DIY a panda balloon right? off to pinterest I went, but nothing. What is wrong with the internets? it couldn't give me the panda love I needed. So I bought some white balloons and here my lovely friends is what happened!

You will need:
White balloons
Craft glue
Black crepe paper (normal paper will probably work fine)

Step 1: Blow up your balloon

Step 2: Cut out two semi circles of your crepe paper, and have little tags at the bottom on each side. It also helps to have a little curve in between the two.

Step 3: Using your sharpie draw some nice big panda eyes on your balloon and colour them in. You might want to draw up a quick template if you are worried about getting the eyes the same. My panda is looking a bit evil here, but he will look cute in a minute I promise.

Step 4: Draw a little nose and smiley mouth on your balloon, I find the closer to the eyes, the cuter the panda.

Step 5: Fold up the tabs on your ear pieces and pop a little bit of glue on the bottom.

Step 6: Stick the tabs on to the top of the balloon, place the tabs pointing towards the face, and it helps to angle them in a little bit so you get a nice curve on the ears, and this helps them to stick up rather than fall over. A bit like pointing your big toes in towards each other.

And you are done! Hazzah! Panda balloon to the ready How cute and easy was that!

Photo credit: Ian Plumpton Photography

Now all that is left to do is prance around pretending you have a panda for a head!

I would love to see your versions if you decide to give this a go. Maybe think about other animals, I would love to see a kitty cat.


14 February 2014

The Ava Sweetheart Neckline

What could be more romantic than a sweetheart neckline review on Valentines! I had a lot of trouble understanding the instructions for joining the two neckline pieces on the Ava by Victory patterns instructions. Its not that they are badly written, just as a new sewer it completely baffled me. I also know from when I tried to search the internet for help that it had stumped a few others as well. Since I have now done this 6 times I decided it might be helpful to visually describe how I did it. Please excuse the fabric choices and bad darts, I am using one of my toiles as my example.

Firstly, the picture on the pattern shows you attaching from the right first, I couldn't comprehend sewing this way so I started on the left.

Starting in the middle, first don't forget  to snip the middle of the neck, this helps A LOT. you need to be careful not to go too far, but you can snip a little and cut a but more away later. on the top bodice piece identify the middle of the point, 5/8 in from the point (luckily for me, this is about at that dot) then pin this exact point 5/8 from the center of the lower bodice under the snip. use the pin to mark out that spot (you could make a mark using tailors chalk or similar). Pin the top and bottom bodice pieces together at the edges working from the center to the left edge.

Now, from the left edge, sew towards the center 5/8 from the edge until you get to the pin/marker in the middle of the neckline. Make sure the needle is down and lift the presser foot.

You now need to pivot the whole lot, so the bottom bodice is lined up with the 5/8 marker on your machine ready to sew. This is where the snip comes in handy. If you find this difficult to pivot then try making the snip slightly longer, but not too close to the needle. Then, you need to pivot the top bodice piece so it lines up. You will notice it gathers a lot in the middle (see above) that's fine. At this point I found it easier to pin by lining up the right hand armhole edge and working in towards the needle in the center. Make sure that there is no fabric being pinched together under the needle (just give it a quick pull/stretch with your hand) pop the foot down and sew to the other edge. 

You can see that there is a lot of the top bodice fabric gathered in the middle underneath but this doesn't matter as it will all get tidied up when you trim the seam allowance and top stitch it down later on. 

And fingers crossed you end up with a nice, smooth, unpuckered sweetheart neckline. Now give yourself a pat on the back, breathe, make a cuppa, and get on with the rest of the pattern.

10 February 2014

Another Victory for Ava!

When I bought the pattern for Ava the plan was always to make a LBD (little black dress) out of it. So once I had got the practice peplum version out the way I got straight on to this.

The main body fabric is some polyester/lycra blend which I purchased from my local fabric shop. I really wanted something that had some stretch, but also a really good drape. I knew jersey would be a bit too flimsy though. This fits the bill pretty well as it has quiet a lot of weight too it. It was also really easy to sew with.

Moving on from my last version of Ava I did make some alterations to the pattern:
  • Added a 1inch full bust adjustment. This helped so much, and I am really pleased with how it went considering it was my first attempt at one. If you compare this to the other version of Ava I made you can really see the difference it made to the armholes, much less gapey, hooray!
  • Took the bodice down by 5cm so that it sits closer to my waist rather than just under my chest
  • Omitted the zip (got to love stretchy fabric for this reason!)
  • I changed the way I sewed the bodice to the skirt. The pattern asks you to sew the side seams of the bodice and skirt together and then join them around the waistline. This is mostly because it makes zip insertion much easier. However I knew I didn't need the zip, and guessed I might need to take it in a bit at the waist due to the stretch. So instead I attached the front bodice to the front skirt, and the back bodice to the back skirt and then joined in the side seams. This did make taking it in at the waist really easy and I ended up taking it in by about an inch on each side. 
  •  I also turned the binding edges under and top stitched them down. I couldn't see the pattern tell me to do this, but have seen other people do it on their versions. I do think the edges look a lot nicer this way.

I am really pleased with how this came out. I only finished it last weekend and have already worn it twice, and had some lovely compliments on it. I can definitely see me making this again in the future. Also, see that belt, its a bit floppy right? I got it on sale for £2, I have already hacked it and sewn it back together to make it fit.

So finally after 3 toiles, 1 peplum and this, I now think I have mastered that confusing neckline! I am planning a post just to go over this because I know a lot of other people have got confused with the instructions, and I searched like crazy trying to get tips on it. But look, the two pieces are sitting lovely and flat on this version.

I hope you like it. Any ideas for my next version?

3 February 2014

Fabric Flower Samples

As part of our away afternoon at work at the end of the month my boss has enlisted me into showing our team a couple of ways to make up some fabric flowers:

There are two methods I used here, one which was cutting circles and then folding them up and stitching them on to a small felt circle. The other was to take a long piece of lace and do a long running stitch to gather it in to a circle, which I then popped a button in the middle to cover the hole.

Both methods worked really well, so I think I will go for both, along with the felt flowers which I used in my bouquets.

The possibilities for these little things are endless: brooches, hair clips, shoe clips, bouquets, bookmarks, all sorts! I am looking forward to seeing what fabrics people choose to put together and how they all turn out. I will make sure to take some pictures for you all. There are hundreds of tutorials for these out on the internet if you fancy having a go yourself.

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