Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Operation Wedding Dress - Stage 2

After a month or so of constant Pinteresting... Step two of Operation Wedding dress was to decide on the design and pattern of my dress by going dress shopping.
I've known for a couple of years that i'd like a short 50's style wedding dress. I love the fitted waist but big skirt style of the era, and I know its something that suits me. I was also fairly adamant I didn't want a strapless dress and thought that i'd go for a boatneck style, or something with sleeves. But everyone of my friends who is getting married said 'you never end up with what you thought you wanted' ...and I was surprised by some of the things I discovered!
The main aims for wedding dress shopping were...
To check a shorter dress would work on my figure
To convince my mum that it should be a short dress
To take a sneaky peak at how some of the dresses are constructed...i.e lace overlays etc.

And here's a few picks of me pulling funny faces in some of the dresses at the last shop...(none of these were my favourite...)

I chose 3 wedding dress shops, one independent British designer specializing in 50s and 60s gowns, one standard bridal shop, and another (cheaper) shop with only short dresses. Whilst I didn't get the 'suck-in-breath' 'WOW' reactions you often see on 'Say Yes to the Dress', by far the best reaction to a dress from me and my Mum and sister was one of the first I tried on in the independent designer, Candy Anthony. Any doubts I had about a short dress were well and truly blown away, and the surprise winner of the day?.... polka dots.
Their service was amazing, it was the only place I was actually given (honest) advice on what they thought suited me and their dresses are SO PRETTY. If I change my mind tomorrow about making my dress I wouldn't hesitate to get my favourite dress there (not to mention the fact it'd be made in the UK rather than a Chinese factory...)
I did try on a series of longer dresses at the next shop, but whilst they were beautiful and some even suited me just fine, they didn't feel very me. I know it's the biggest day of your life and the one day most people want to be dressed as they never have before; but I felt strongly that I wanted something I could dance in. And that wasn't too far removed from the sort of dress I usually wear. A huge dress you have to lift up to walk and a train several feet behind you, just isn't my bag. Besides given I'd like to get some photos taken in a field, and it's me, the chances of a dress being covered in cow pat and cake by end of the day seemed much higher if there was much more of it.
But don't worry, that's not to say there won't be plenty of pouffe in my dress. I discovered I liked a full skirt with a big petticoat underneath, the bigger the better. I also found that whilst I liked boatneck style dresses, it didn't feel 'weddingy' enough to have a dress that was mostly a white version of what is in my wardrobe. So the winner was a strapless silk tea-length dress with a full petticoat underneath, with an overlaid dress that had scallop edge polka dot on the bodice with cap sleeves and plain tulle for the circle skirt. The plan is to try and recreate that!
Originally when I thought i'd make a boatneck style, I was planning on using Vogue 8729 and shortening it. However now I've decided the base dress will be strapless, I intend to use Simplicity 4070, perhaps switching the skirt for a circle one. The overlay dress will be a circle skirt, and the bodice I think I'll attempt to draft myself.

I've looked at buying a petticoat, but they tend to cost so much that I think if there's time i'll make my own. There's a few great tutorials out there... this one in particular, and I'm going to make a practice one in a few weeks to go under my Betty dress for a wedding.

So stay tuned for the next wedding dress post... which will finally have some actual sewing in it!

Emily Kate.

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

New in the Shop for September...

It's been way too long since I last did one of these... so at long last I have a couple of new skylines in the shop. Both cities of the US, Seattle and Philadelphia.

Philadelphia wasn't on my list to do anytime soon, but I had a request from a customer to design it, and I have to say it was quite a straightforward one to do. It features many of the many skyscrapers of the citys skyline, including the Comcast Center, One and Two Liberty Place and the Mellon Bank Center.

I decided it was about time I did Seattle's skyline after watching an episode of Frasier a while back... Its dominated by the Space Needle, and also features the Smith Tower and the Washington Mutual Tower.
Next on the U.S cities list is Denver, and then I'm going to do the newest city skyline in the world (probably) Dubai! 
Emily Kate.

Monday, 28 September 2015

Morris Blazer from Grainline Studio

Now this looks like for once I actually started sewing my Autumn/winter projects at the beginning of the season. Until I tell you that this pattern has been sat taped up and cut out on my living room floor since July :o. Anyway, that was of course intentional as this is really more suitable for early Autumn weather before it gets too cold, although it could easily be worn under a winter coat.
This post is probably going to be quite a short one really, because as far as issues go, I had none. The Morris Blazer is my first pattern from Grainline Studio, although probably not my last. I love the simplicity and wearability of their patterns. Every one of them seems like something you could make countless versions of and wear time and time again. The definition of a wardrobe staple.
I cut a size 10, but graded down to an 8 at the bust to fit my measurements. The fabric I've used is a fail-safe black ponte knit. I'm always looking for a black or grey cardi to chuck on over my outfit so I figured I'd make my first in black, then go a bit more exciting for the next one. The jacket was an easy sew, done in a few hours. I'd never made a shawl collar before but found the instructions clear, and there's also a sew-along on the website so I checked with that where needed. Its labelled as an 'advanced beginner' pattern but I would say its more of a straightforward beginners one, especially if you're working with a thick knit like ponte.
I really love the fit of the jacket, it easily makes a casual outfit of jeans and a top a bit smarter and dressier for work or going out. It fits me really well, snugly but I'm still able to move my arms about easily.
I will definitely be making at least one or two more of this pattern...I've got some great patterned knit fabrics favourited on Etsy. Although do you ever find you get super excited by patterned fabric when sewing and then end up with a wardrobe full of items in cool prints, but that you can't wear together?! No? Just me then....

So my next foray into Grainline Studio will be for the Linden sweatshirt, and I've got my eye on the Moss Skirt as a future possibility for a cute little wool number....
Emily Kate.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Autumn/Winter Sewing Plans 2015

I read a quote in the Evening Standard earlier today from Colin Firth's eco-designer wife Livia, who said:
'You should only buy items of clothing that you can see yourself wearing 30 times.'
I think that's a great rule to live buy in this era of fast fashion. Whilst we sewers might be less inclined to 'impulse sew' (is that even a thing?!) our clothes due to the length of time it takes, it's still something to think about when sewing up a garment. Do I really need this in my wardrobe? Will I want to make at least a couple of versions of this pattern, so its worth the investment?
I've really been trying this year, and I think succeeding, to fill my wardrobe and pattern stash with key wearable items that i'll wear time and time again. Not buying too many prints without thinking, what will I be able to wear this with?!
This autumn and winter for me is going to be all about items I can layer, as it appears my closet is really not ready for cold and endless days of drizzle. I'm also planning to sew fairly simple patterns, nothing that's too much of a big project. After all the next 9 months of sewing time will largely be taken up with Operation Wedding Dress. However some simple straight forward sewing in between will really help me to not get too stressed and stew over every little insecurity I have about said dress.
So here are my main sewing projects for the next few months.... 

I've already started on my first Morris, after buying the pattern back at the start of summer. The 'jacket' section of my wardrobe largely consists of stretched out Primark cardigans, so a few versions of this stylish blazer are definitely needed..
This has also been in my plans for a while as a great pattern for layering up in the winter months. And I've seen some gorgeous Liberty sweatshirt print fabrics in my local shop!

I've not totally ruled out a winter coat this year, as I could really do with a new one. But I'm definitely going to try this super easy and 1950's style cape from Sew Over It Vintage.

After my first successful, perfectly fitting pair last week, I've already got two other fabrics lined up to fill my wardrobe with this great staple.
I'm also thinking of making up a couple of my favourite summer makes in wool for a great winter version. I saw a lovely boiled wool version of the Betty dress in Sew Over Its window yesterday, and the Hollyburn skirt by Sewaholic would also be great in a warmer fabric.
What are your sewing plans for this autumn and winter?
Emily Kate.

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Ultimate Trousers Class at Sew Over It

When I first took up sewing a couple of years ago I considered taking a couple of sewing classes to get started. Unfortunately I found that they were a bit more than I could afford at the time, so I learnt as I went through patterns with help from blogs, Google and various sewing books. Whilst I think I've got to a be a reasonably competent sewer, one thing I really struggle with is resolving fitting issues. So after finally sewing a Sew Over It pattern, the vintage shift dress and then more recently the Betty (yet to be blogged!) I decided to have a look at their classes.
After my first couple of attempts at trousers, Colette Clovers and Burda 7062, I was feeling a bit deflated over how to get a good fitting pair. So when I found an Ultimate Trousers class I could get to, albeit the one the other side of London, I booked on straight away.
My first class went pretty well, despite turning up 5 minutes late because of delightful problems on the northern line. I decided to make my trousers out of some tartan wool I chose as my prize for winning the #SewIShowOff in July, and we had decided on our size, cut out and overlocked all the edges by the end of the class. I sewed a couple of seams at home and then at the beginning of the second class a week later, was all set to have Julie fit them to my shape. Which is when I ran into problems.
They wouldn't do up. At all. We debated whether I had cut off too much when I overlocked the edges, or whether I had just overdone it on the cake front that week. It turns out that when I was trying on toiles, I had thought I was trying on a 12, that was in fact a size 14. I hadn't noticed, Julie the instructor hadn't noticed, so I had then cut out a size 12. I didn't think anything of it either as I'm usually a size 10 in RTW and often a size 10 or 12 in modern pattern companies. Anyway the long and the short of it is, I had no option but to start again. I worked as quickly as possible and managed to get to the fitting stage again by the end of the class. Julie then fitted them to me, which is when we then discovered that my left leg is considerably fatter more muscly, than my right. There's around 1.5cm seam allowance difference. I could understand how my left arm would be stronger, as after 10 years of waitressing, and more than that of playing the bassoon, my left arm is the one that takes the weight. But quite how someone ends up with one fatter leg I don't know.
Anyway what I have now after finishing them at home, is a bloody well fitting pair of trousers. Seriously. There is nothing about the fit I would change at all, the only tiny issue I have which I always have, is somehow managing to put the zip a little high up so it doesn't do up right to the top link. The fabric I used is also a tweed wool, so it is a little on the itchy side. But it also looks gorgeous, so I'll put up with it.
So if you're considering taking a class but were wondering if it was worth the money, I would definitely recommend taking this one. I did worry that I might not learn anything new, but I picked up lots of tips on how to do things, like stretching the crotch seam a little as you sew it so it will stretch later when you bend down! I was also able to use an overlocker for the first time, and the most invaluable thing for me was having someone fit the trousers to your shape. Without an experienced seamstress to do that there's no way I would ever have known that I had different sized legs...! Julie even offered to do another session with just me to finish mine off, although it wasn't really needed in the end.

This will be the first of many pairs of Ultimate Trousers..... and hopefully not the only class i'll take at Sew Over It.
Have you taken any sewing classes recently?
Emily Kate.

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Big Plans Are Afoot....

I first thought about sewing my own wedding dress nearly 18months ago. I was at a family wedding, my first wearing a home-sewn dress, when a seamstress friend asked if I would make my own. I hadn't really thought about it as I'd only been sewing a year, but from then on I decided that was as good a thing to aim for as anything else. Cue lots of inappropriate jokes from my non-sewing friends when I said I need to practice boning first...
So when the question finally rolled around last month, (It was never exactly going to be a surprise after almost 9 years, although the first thing out of my mouth was 'Are you sure?!') I already knew I was going to sew my own wedding dress.
There are some lovely DIY dresses out there in the blog world such as...
And what most of these have in common is that everyone told them it was a big risk, and that they shouldn't do it. What has worried me most is that no one I've told has said that to me. No one even seemed surprised. After all, they know I sew a lot, and know I like to DIY where I can. But everyone's casual acceptance that of course I would make my own dress, and belief that I was perfectly capable actually started to freak me out.
So it was kind of a relief when at a hen party recently the mother of the bride, a great home sewer, told me it was seriously risky and that I was taking too much on. Because that's when I was like 'No, you're wrong, I CAN DO THIS!'. Because if you want to see me do something, just tell me that I can't. I dare you.
So this is the start of the story of me making my own wedding dress. The big day is not much more than 9 and a half months away, so i'm starting as soon as possible!
Step one:- To Pinterest the bejesus out of every wedding dress, vintage dress and sewing pattern that could feasibly become a wedding dress known to man.

Step two:-  To go proper dress shopping to see what styles actually suit me, and will be happening this weekend.
So if you want to follow along with my wedding dress journey... stay tuned!
Emily Kate.

Sunday, 6 September 2015

Sweet Scalloped Hem Shorts

As I sit here huddled up in a woolly jumper under a duvet... it doesn't feel like just 3 weeks ago that I was swanning around Vienna in 37 degree heat. Once again the scorching hot summer the Daily Mail promised failed to materialise and we're left clinging to suggestions of an 'Indian summer'. Well, they may not get another outing until next summer, but these Sweet Scalloped Shorts by Pattern Runway, may just be my favourite make of the summer... or even the year!
It was a pattern of a few firsts for me. My first welt pocket, and second.... and third until I finally got them right; and my first high waisted shorts or trousers. I didn't leave a great deal of time before our holiday, so decided to risk it and not make a toile. I checked my measurements carefully and even did a bit of pattern measuring, and they turned out a pretty perfect fit. I don't think I'd even change anything if when I make them again, and for once that's not just because I'm not sure how to!
It's a reasonably involved pattern, with lots of pieces that can be hard to keep track of. The instructions I found to be really clear, except with one little problem I had with the welt pockets. I didn't twig the first time that the second parallel line you stitch before turning the welt right side out, has to not catch any of the welt fabric otherwise it'll be seen on the outside. I'm not sure if it was me not transferring pattern markings over precisely, or a bum bit of measuring but my first welt pocket had this issue. Second welt pocket was a success, so much so that I made the next one exactly the same and ended up with two right legs.
The side pockets were a breeze, and the hem was quite straightforward too, I chose to just topstitch it, but the facing flaps out sometimes so I think i'll slip stitch it to the inside at some point in the future.
Unfortunately the photos of me in these beauties don't exactly show them too clearly, largely due to the black fabric choice. So you're going to just have to take my word for it. These shorts are awesome. Comfy, stylish and practical too, although does anyone really use welt pockets?!
That beautiful city in the background is Vienna. Possibly my favourite city I've ever visited, so much history and culture. Go there.
What's your favourite make of the summer?
Emily Kate.