New Blog Design!

Monday, 29 September 2014

Hello again!

So I just got a virtual facelift! How do you guys like the new style :)

I have been wanting to spruce up my little spot for a while now, but Blogger wouldn't even let me change my colour - nevermind anything else.

I was in the process of getting a new blog design for quite a few months, but it all ended up in disaster, so second time round I was a bit gun-shy to say the least. 

I found Daphne on Etsy and I could tell just by her listing description that we would be a good fit.
I fell in love with her work. She does custom work, but also sells premade social icons and headers (which I also fell in love with. Can I have two blogs??). You can also get her to just do specific things like design your new header if that's all you feel you need. Although I would definitely recommend the whole hog!

She was amazing from the first moment, and made the whole process an absolute pleasure. And I'm not lying when I say that she basically had it designed overnight. Like literally overnight. I was so shocked! 
And she was happy to change every silly little thing, and I never felt like a pain!

If anyone has been thinking about getting their own little spot refreshed, and are on a budget, then I highly recommend Daphne. And there's even a 20% discount in it for you if you tell her I sent you :)

For less than the price of a few cocktails, how could you say no??

Oh, and in the spirit of moving forward, I have opened myself up a Facebook page.

I was trying to figure out where I could show you guys all the awesome patterns I find on eBay, and all the good fabric finds, without making annoying blog posts and without it getting lost in a massive Twitter feed. If you want to see my feed, you can always like the page, and follow it and pick your notification preferences :)
God they really make it confusing don't they!

I think that's enough changes for one day, don't you?

Emmie xx

Frogging Socks and Bowing to the Blog Hop...

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Well hello there!!

How are things with everyone?? I've had a lovely relaxing weekend :) 

I was trying to decide what I wanted to start working on this weekend, but to be honest my weight has spiked slightly over the past few weeks (one too many chocolate-orange bars). Unfortunately as that all goes on my waist, I don't want to make something that's going to be too big again in a few weeks when I've copped on and put down the biscuits. 

Therefore, I decided as I was on my own today, I would finally sit down and finally try out the Craftsy class 'Knit Sock Workshop' that I had intending on getting stuck into for a while.

I'm not that far in to be honest, but I'm slightly disappointed at the moment. My reasoning is, I had previously bought 'Knit Original Toe Up Socks', but that class was aimed at people who already knew how to knit socks - but who wanted to branch into creating original sock patterns, so I went back and bought the class for people learning how to knit socks.

But the two sock patterns that are covered in the class aren't exactly basic! One is a colourwork pattern and the other is a lacework pattern with a figure of 8 cast on and toe work up that she admits is tricky. SO apparently you need to know how to knit well first?? Granted I have very basic knitting skills, but seriously, can we not have a class where you are eased in?? I found one of the toe work ups in the second class easier than the first (I remember trying it out when I watched it first).

Anyway, I'm going to look at the second class again, and see if I can use a different toe to begin with so I can at least get into making a flaming sock. Or maybe I'll just watch the class the whole way through so I know the process, and then figure it out after that.

Sorry for the bulk of text, but I've just spent the afternoon frogging sock toes.

But let's move on!

Nicole Needles kindly nominated me in the Blog Hop that's making the rounds, so I'm going to do my best to answer the questions. I like getting to know more about my favourite people, so this is actually a blog hop I like!

What are you currently working on?

See above! Sewing-wise, I have a few things that are floating around. One of the thing's high up on my list is this vintage Blackmore pattern that I have fallen in love with (on the left) :

I've also been inspired by Clare and Heather to sew up McCall's 6696 soon, so I need to get that traced up pronto! I'm going with the pencil skirt option, as I'm moving into slimmer skirts.

Lastly, I want to make a coat. Whether that is going to be a simple coat or a full on tailored affair I have yet to decide, but I need more coats. Unfortunately I can't find/decide on a pattern at the moment. I have some navy blue boiled wool and a turquoise bouclé that are precious to me and I need to wear them soon!

How does your work differ from others in its genre?

This question is a bit self indulgent isn't it?!  very difficult to answer!
I don't think it differ's too much from your standard sewing blog - I make things and I show them to you!
I guess everything I make and wear has some some sort of a vintage flavour to it - not entirely original in this day and age but I do commit to it as fully as possible with hair and make-up etc. Some people can look awesome in a variety of modern styles and vintage era's but I doubt you will see me sewing up anything very modern any time soon. I just feel super uncomfortable in it. Tying in with that, I don't really take part in sewalongs, sewing months or challenges. I have realised that there is nothing worse to me than forced creativity.

 Why do you write/create what you do?

I sew because being able to say 'I made it' is a great feeling! I like the process of picking up the puzzle pieces and putting them together to make something beautiful. I feel like a sponge when it comes to sewing, I feel like I'm always learning something - whether it be in blogs, books, pattern instructions. I love that I'm really understanding clothes. Everywhere I walk, I'm picking up on the different fitting problems of all the people walking past me.

I write because it makes me happy to just communicate with you all! I'm very talkative, empathetic, and a very inquisitive person. I just love getting to know people - Like KNOW them. One of my favourite things to do is just sit and talk to someone for like six hours. Whether we're talking shite or having a full on DMC, I'm happy out :) 

Writing this blog used to be nerve wracking for me, putting myself and my words out there. I'm far more nervous about people not liking my writing than my sewing. For that reason, although they now know it exists, I've still not shown my friends or family my writing, or the blog. Apart from the pictures of course!

How does your writing/creative process work?

Mostly, it's the regular - make something, write about it - type of process. I take my photos and sort all them out first, and then just put my hands to the keyboard and see what comes out. Maybe I should plan them out a bit more, but prefer to read a more organic style of writing myself so I'm sticking to it.

I have been trying to take a few sets of photo's at the same time, but I try to space the posts out a bit. Otherwise there would be 3 blog posts in one day, and then nothing for 2 months! I rarely schedule posts, I tend to write them as and when I have a chance.

I've been trying to do some blog series's - like my Mr. Tailor Man series (although I never wrote up the final haul from that!) and my newer Vintage Guts series where I show the interesting details from the vintage pieces I've picked up.

I'm quite self deprecating - I think it must be the Irish in me. As an Irish person, you can't accept anything without refusing it a minimum of three times. Compliments... a cup of tea... everything. I don't know if everyone realises that the infamous Mrs. Doyle character is every Irish mother I've ever known.

In terms of my general creative process. I think and plan about sewing far far more than I actually sew! I've always been a planner (except for holidays, hate planning holidays). Love a list though. The constant planning over seeing is therefore why I have the size of stash I currently have (and seriously need to downsize somehow). I like to be alone in the flat when I sew, and usually either have some TV series or a music channel on in the background. For some reason, having football on in the background isn't the same - hence the being alone!

Ok, I think I've rambled on for far to long now!

I hear I have to make three nominations? Difficult when this hop has been hopping for so long!

I've had a scope around for people who haven't popped up yet, and I nominate three of the people who put a smile on my face every time their name pops up in my blog reader!
Clare at Sew Dixie Lou , Rehanon at Miss Demeanour is on the Make and Sally at Charity Shop Chic


Emmie xx

So back to me being a Ballerina.... Papercut Coppélia

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Hey Guys,

Getting slightly out of sync here, but I love this so much I couldn't resist!

I finally got around to making up my first go at a Papercut Coppélia wrap cardigan, and by golly I love it.

I also love this outfit combination, I've worn it twice this week already!

As lovely as it is, it's really more of a wearable test run. 

There were definitely adjustments made, the jersey was not exactly easy to keep any semblance of grain on, and I'm hearing stitches pop every time I tie it up - but I'm gonna wear it to death!

I cut a size S and I'm pretty happy with the fit in the body. I definitely wouldn't go any bigger! There's plenty of room for bewbs and such, but with a wrap cardigan you're gonna get more leeway in that department in any case.

The jersey is quite lightweight, and was from Goldhawk road. I think on a meetup - from whichever is the shop with all the Liberty prints. I don't usually buy much in there, but I was looking for jersey like this and there it was. 

However I didn't realise how difficult it is to cut out on grain. And I underestimated how much I needed. And I think it was cut a bit arseways as the guy was new and struggling with wielding his shears. I offered to help, but no. I think I got 1.5m but that was cutting it close. Especially if you like to flirt with the grainline.

Therefore I think the ties got the worst of the wonky grain-ness. I made a half-arsed attempt with the body. I gauged that the ties would be all warped in the wrapping so no matter if they're warped from birth.

The major adjustment I did make was to take it in massively along the arms, under the arms and where the arm goes into the body, tapering down into the original waist. There was significant excess fabric, but I did hear that was possibly something that has been addressed in the updated pattern.

I also abandoned the cuffs, as I had to cut an inch off the sleeves to turn them up by an inch. 
Loooong sleeves. Shoooorrrrt arms.

But they're okay now. I'll do some pattern piece alterations before I sew up the next one. Thankfully, stretchy fabric will be forgiving if I don't get it perfect for edition two!

I love how it nips you in at the waist :)
It's the one thing that always grated on me about other cardigans. I always felt frumpy and like I was losing my waist definition.

The instructions were fairly okay for the most part, though quite brief. There were some head scratching moments when I read through them first, and because the pattern pieces are not your usual shapes, you need to pay attention! Especially when they're flopping around, being all knit-like.

The other bit I had to go a bit maverick on was the neck band. There was a hell of a lot of easing to be done, and when I had stitched it all together I realised the neck band needed to go slightly further to be incorporated into the waist tie. With the front edges being even, part of the width of the neckband would be outside of the waistband.. One side I ripped back a bit and re-eased, the other side I sliced/trimmed a bit down the front edge until it looked how I needed it to look.

I didn't see anything mentioned about it in the instructions about this, so if anyone else has come up against it, or if I'm being particularly dense let me know.

I sewed it up on my regular machine, as my overlocker was not getting along with the jersey. Since the 'incident' and subsequent tinkering, I've been getting decent stitching on thicker fabric, but as I never use jersey, it never got tested. It was eating it all erratically, and there was no way I was going to be able to keep any sort of even feed or even produce an even tension across the loopers. 

I know from finally getting to sew on the same model (but not broken) that although I'm getting an overlock stitch out of it, the loopers are definitely not in the same position/timing as an off the shelf model. How long do you think I'll put the service off?

The other thing I will definitely be working on for the next iteration is the optimal stitch for stretching with jersey. The off the cuff one I though was working definitely needs a bit more give. I have heard quite a few stitches go - mostly in the wrap tie I think. But considering how much of a bitch it is to unpick stitches from jersey, I won't get too concerned too quickly.

After finishing, I was a bit meh - but after the wearing, I adore it!

It's basically my perfect cardigan and there will be many more, in many colours.
And probably like three black ones! Cuz that is how I do.

I just have to remember to buy knits and not wovens...It may be a hard one to break.

Emmie xx

Vintage Guts - Part 2!

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Hey Guys,

I've been meaning to get the next one of these up for a while now, and here it is finally :)
Oh, and it's one of my favourites!

So much so, that I would appreciate if you would turn a blind eye to any grubby marks you may spot. It's ready to be washed, and I haven't quite decided how I'm going to wash it yet...

This is my pink deadstock day dress. Marketed as 1950's, but I think it's more likely to be 1960's -judging by styling and seam-finishing. 

I bought it at the Viva vendors in Vegas. It still had it's original tag on and everything, so never been worn or nothing! Makes me so sad when I think of how they price vintage in the US - I would have expected the vendors to be way overpriced but this dress, and another one in lemon were $54 each. How crazy is that?

It's a 'Lady Manhattan' dress, and is a polyester/rayon blend. Apparently Lady Manhattan was a division of Manhattan Industries – originally The Manhattan Shirt Company, founded by Lewis Levi in 1857. The Lady Manhattan label was first used in 1954 and trademarked in 1956, which ties in with my guesstimation.

Apparently 'Dura-Smooth' was marketed as 'permanent press', meaning that now matter how or how often the garment was laundered, it would keep it's smooth, supple look. I found an ad for 'Dura-Smooth' in a newspaper from 1965.

I have decided that this is my new favourite skirt on a dress. I love the knife pleats, it gives a nice slim waist I'm leaning towards, but I still feel like I have the full flowing skirt that I've always known and loved.

Oh, and this is one of my favourite bodices too by the way. Fit's like a dream, and I finally figured out why vintage waists always looked tiny. Besides the fact that many were, of course! The blousey top makes your waist look smaller too.

The dress also came with a lovely fabric belt, which I have transplanted onto a number of other outfits too! I love a plain coloured self fabric belt. I have a few I've picked up with other dresses and they always lift an outfit up to another level. 

This is the back of the belt.

There are some belt loops on the dress, but they are those sort of string loops, and they are far too big (oh and one has already come undone), so I sort of just go over them. I feel bad at the thought of removing them!

The back has a deep box-pleat in the back, which is a nice feature and keeps everything comfy, and some small pleats either side of the box-pleat to nip things in. As you can see, it also has a shirt-style back yoke.

The top of the box pleat is stitched down, and stops the box-pleat gaping open.

From the outside, the bottom of the box-pleat, and the side pleats appears to be closed with bar-tacks.

I was trying to figure out how they achieved this look, and when I looked inside, it appears that instead of straight stitching the pleat, it was done with a zig-zag, and it shows like a bar tack on the outside.

It's intriguing, and a nicer detail than a regular old straight stitch.

I love the notched collar. It's just the right size, and sits nice and flat.

The only thing I would think about tweaking if I ever get around to re-making this dress is the sleeves. I do like them, but I think they're a smidge too long on me and could possibly do with tapering in slightly.

Now, I'm sure I've mentioned at some point before that me and side-zips are almost a no-go area.
This is why the next part is my absolute favourite feature!

The skirt below the button placket has a sort of hidden fly :)

There's enough of an overlap that there's no risk of untoward flashing. There is a press stud on the underlap and a bar hook at the edge of the placket.

The knife pleats line up perfectly across the front fly, and it hides the centre front seam.

Another feature I love (I seem to love them all!) is the hem. It's super deep, and I actually really love that you can see that through the skirt.

The skirt is hemmed with a blind hem, but it seems to be machine sewn. I'm not sure what this stitch is called? Chain stitch?

Some of the seams have selvedge seams, some have pinked seams, and some have overlocked seams. It's a complete mixture which is funny.

Oh, and a special mention to the first night I wore this dress, to the Dolly Clackett hen party, when I fell down the stairs to the train and got blood on the inside hem.

Thankfully not visible from the outside. But seriously. This dress survives for more than 50 years and I ruin it on it's first wear. Bravo.

I'll leave you with some shots of me enjoying the dress :)

Emmie xx

Photo from Alex at Sew Over It

Photo from Ooobop

Sparkle Sparkle FLASHBACK

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Hey Guys,

We sort of need to have a little flashback to June.

I kind of didn't get the chance to go through all of the construction details of the sequinned dress! 

This post is majorly picture heavy (just a warning!) and unfortunately most of the construction pictures are taken with my phone. Bad habit! So what's coming is a bit of a hodge-podge of before and after photo's! And of course the dress lining could do with a press/steam too, but never mind.

Oh, and I couldn't reach the hook and eye! It was difficult taking new pictures, as the light was super reflective on the sequins :)

When I dreamt of my dress, I wanted a scoop neck and a full floaty tea length skirt. Those were my criteria and I managed to fill them! I thought long and hard about what bodice to use. I wanted as few seams as possible, and although there are a few in this one, they were in manageable places! And also, I knew that I had already gotten a good fit with this bodice, and I was loathe to start muslining a new one.

The bodice of the dress is a modified BHL Anna bodice. I redrafted the front and back neckline to be scooped for a change. I had to redraft the front once, as it was slipping off of my shoulders. It was just a touch too wide.

The sequinned fabric is a sequinned Spanish lace from Minerva Crafts, and the lining was a butter soft cotton poplin from Fabrix on Goldhawk road. It was stashed a long time before but was a beautiful match!

Ok, let's start from the start.

Firstly I cut out the lining pieces. 

I had spent a long time trying to work out the construction of the bodice to get the scalloped neckline just right. I decided the best was to to construct the bodice with the lining acting as an underlining. 

I bias-bound the edges of the neckline and sleeve hems of the lining. I then basted the lining pieces to the sequinned fabric.

I spent too many hours trimming sequins out of the seam allowances. I utilised the blank edges of the sequinned fabric as much as possible for places like the back seam but unfortunately I couldn't use them everywhere and there were a hell of a lot of sequins to go! I wasn't risking my machine.

I kind of lost feeling in my fingers.

I also trimmed the sequins out of the darts. I hand-basted each dart also. I stitched up the centre of each dart to secure the fabric before I stitched the dart legs.

After I put the bodice pieces together, I bias-bound the shoulders, side seams and hem - enclosing both lining and sequins together.

I cut the scalloped neckline by eye, and ended up having to shape the scallops, as opposed to following the line of the individual fabric pieces. I used fray-check on some but most were okay.

I tacked the scalloped neckline to the lining under the edge of the bias binding so that it was invisible.

I also bias bound the skirt lining pieces, which I had cut as a half circle skirt. 

For the sequined fabric, I used a full width of the fabric, utilising the blank edges for the side seams. I pleated the full width of the fabric into the front lining piece and half onto each back piece. 

Oh and I pleated it all by eye. And re-pleated it repeatedly until it fit. I then stitched the pleats to the lining fabric and bias-bound the waist seam. I had french seamed the sequined fabric so that it was loose over the lining. The sequin fabric is only enclosed in the back seam.

Then came the nerve wracking bit, where I joined the skirt to the bodice. I'm a terror for pulling fabric up into seams, so I used some of those wonder-clips to try and hold things together. Thankfully the sewing god's heard my prayer and when I opened up it was perfect.

I inserting a lapped metal zipped in a pale pink to match the fabric. 

I didn't want to grade any seams so the fabric was impossibly thick, especially with the binding. I hand-sewed it in, and had to use a kind of pliers to pull the needle through. It was hellishly hard to get through but I got there in the end.

Turns out taking the sequins off leaves behind the horrible nylon thread, so I had to sew in some last minute grosgrain ribbon from Clare's stash as they were killing my shoulders.

I'm assuming the side seams would be the same, but I wore the dress with a waist-cincher which protected my skin.

The weight of the skirt with all the sequins was pretty impressive, so I added in a grosgrain waist stay. I machine sewed it on to the front half of the dress only. It really did an amazing job of supporting the weight. 

By the way, I'm super glad that none of the bulk of the fabric layers translates to show in the dress :)

I used skirt hooks to close the waist stay. I added two different hooking points, but in the end had to add another section with another looser point. Although I could close the tightest, it ended up pulling the dress in too much, and caused distortion of the bodice.

I also hand-scalloped the hem of the dress. The final job, and thankfully was a lot quicker to complete than I thought it would. I left it to hang longer than the lining, as you do.

I was sewing this up until the Thursday night, before the Saturday. I was heading to London on the Friday, so I was definitely down to the wire. I think it took the guts of a fortnight to sew.
I was sick of the sight of it... until I put it on for the event :) It kind of felt like the effort you might put into a wedding dress! And it feels that way when I put it on too...

And just in case you forgot, some flashbacks of the night in question. I wish I had taken more photo's. I was equally as proud of my hair!

Oh, and lastly, some indication as to the state of my house afterwards! The camera couldn't even pick up half of the sequins - whatever you can see, times it by 5!

I have a terrible photo of myself just after finishing, and covered in them, but we shall leave that for another time :)

Well done for sticking with me!

Emmie x
Made With Love By The Dutch Lady Designs