Unselfish sewing OR a dress for Jenny

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So back in December, my friend Jenny asked me if I’d be able to help her out with something rather exciting. She makes music under the name Rooks (and go check it out, because it’s amazing) and wanted to do something a bit different for her album launch in March. Namely, lights. So of course I agreed, because, frankly, when offered the opportunity to make a dress with lights in it, who’d say no?

What is it?

A sleeveless shift dress. With lights. You heard me. Lights.

Is it blue?

No

What’s the fabric and where is it from?

Black crepe from the indoor market at the Bullring. The bodice was lined with a black and white bird print cotton bought in Walthamstow.

What’s the pattern?

An altered version of the Lilou dress from Love at First Stitch.

What was good about making this?

Figuring out how to sew lights into a dress, and then threading them all the way through was a challenge but a fun one. It also meant that the dress had an incredible structure to the skirt due to all the wire snaking around inside. However, the absolute best thing, sappy as it is, is that I got to see one of my best friends wearing a dress that not only looked great, but that gave her a lot of joy, as evidenced by her switching it on and off after the gig to show people how it lit up. That was pretty magical

What was bad about making this?

I learnt that black fabric is not particularly interesting to sew with. I also found it really stressful to make something for someone else; as much as I worry about the fit when I make things for myself, I know that ultimately I can bodge it around myself. Not the case here by a long shot!

Would you make it again?

It depends if I’m asked!

x

Plotting and planning

This weekend has been one of plotting and planning for my next couple of projects. So, in a cryptic, not so cryptic way, here’s what I’ve been up to…

1) Green thread

3-threadMANY moons ago I measured up my sofa to make a new sofa cover and bought a load of fabric to make the sofa cover. This is what I looked like when I’d just bought all the fabric. To give you an idea of how long ago it was, this wasn’t taken in our old flat, it was taken in my old flat (i.e. over two years ago….).
sofa whoopsAnd since then it’s just sat in a bag. However, yesterday I finally bought some thread that matches the fabric. So maybe, just maybe there’ll be a sofa cover somewhere in the future

2) Orla

1-orlaI fell in love with Orla pretty much as soon as Tilly published it, and I’m pretty convinced it’s going to be perfect for some gorgeous Nani Iro double guaze I picked up in Japan over the summer. In a strange move for me, I’m going to make a muslin this time around.as I’m terrified about cutting into the fabric and want to make sure I have it absolutely right before I make the first scary cut.

3) Super secret secretness

blurryI had a planning brunch about this today. All I can say about this is it’s very secret, I’m excited about making it, and think it will be pretty darned amazing if I manage to pull it off!

4) Toiletry bags

2-filled toiletry bagsSo these are a bit different. A local group has been collecting a whole heap of items to send to those needing aid in Calais, Kos, Lesbos and Syria. Rather than just send the toiletries in huge boxes, they decided to make them into individual packs, each in a reusable drawstring bag containing a message of hope and peace. I volunteered to help make some of the bags, so this afternoon went along to take those I’d made so far and sew up another batch of 14 over the course of a couple of hours. Whilst we were sewing, other people were filling those bags already made and it was amazing at the end of the session to see just how generous people had been with their time and their resources (253 are being sent off this week!).

If you’re in the Birmingham area and would like to help, this is the group I’m helping with: https://www.facebook.com/groups/Kingsheathcollects/
Rosie (who is co-ordinating the work) may be able to help you find a collection nearer to you if you aren’t able to make it to the Kings Heath area

If you’re in the wider world and would like to help, I’d recommend using facebook as a way to find a grassroots collection near you, or alternatively take a look at the website of any of the many charities and organisations working in these areas, including the UN Refugee Agency, Save the Children and Oxfam

Polar bear skirt

Polar bear skirt

What is it?

A dirndl skirt COVERED IN POLAR BEARS!

Is it blue?

Yes

What’s the fabric?

POLAR BEARS! Or, more calmly, Polar Bears by Kobayashi Canvas

What’s the pattern?

The Clemence skirt in Love at First Stitch, this time with a 50cm drop

Where’s the fabric from?

Tomato in Nippori Textile Town, Tokyo

What was good about making this?

Did I mention this skirt had polar bears on it? Polar bears.

What was bad about making this?

Unpicking gathering and basting stitches (again…)

Would you make it again?

Yup

Pussy bow blouse

Pussy bow blouse

What is it?

A loose-fitting button up blouse with pleated sleeves and altered by me to have a pussy bow collar and piping on the yoke.

Is it blue?

No!

What’s the fabric?

A flimsy material (not very good with technical terms….) that’s white and covered in teeny red polka dots

What’s the pattern?

I used the same pattern that I used for the blue blouse, but followed the instructions in the book to add the piping on the yoke and this hack tutorial on the collar

Where’s the fabric from?

The Fancy Silk Store in Birmingham

What was good about making this?

Managing to get the hack to work and figuring out how to do the piping

What was bad about making this?

The fabric was slippery which made it a bit hard. It also took me a while to figure out how to do the piping without actual piping. I ended up getting bias binding, sandwiching it and trimming it down. Looked pretty effective though so ultimately a plus.

Would you make it again?

I’m not sure. I like the softness of this blouse far more than the previous one, but with both versions they’re pretty low cut on me so I have to wear them vest tops underneath. If anyone has a suggestion for an alternative feminine blouse that I could make that has a slightly higher neckline it would be much appreciated!

Blue blouse

Blue blouse

What is it?

A loose-fitting button up blouse with pleated sleeves and Chelsea collar

Is it blue?

Yes

What’s the fabric?

Some blue cotton I had in my stash

What’s the pattern?

The Mimi blouse in Tilly Walnes’ Love at First Stitch

Where’s the fabric from?

Ikea I think?

What was good about making this?

It gave me a chance to have another go at a lot of skills

What was bad about making this?

The pleats took a couple of attempts to get right and when the blouse was finished, due to the weight of the fabric it didn’t seem to sit very well (although it is better tucked into skirts).

Would you make it again?

I did; see the pussy bow blouse

Green skirt

Green skirt

What is it?

A bright green dirndl skirt. I think of it as being my apple skirt.

Is it blue?

No!

What’s the fabric?

Incredibly cheap polyester. Amazingly it actually works really well!

What’s the pattern?

The Clemence skirt from Tilly Walnes’ Love at First StitchI made it 60cm long as I wanted something  that hit below rather than above the knee

Where’s the fabric from?

The Fancy Silk Store in Birmingham

What was good about making this?

It was so quick and easy! Definitely a go-to skirt; I like how easy it is to change the pattern

What was bad about making this?

Unpicking three rows of gathering stitches and a row of basting stitches. I hate unpicking stitches.

Would you make it again?

Yes. Lots. See the polar bear skirt as the first of what I expect to be many other versions.

Tiny flowers dress

Tiny flowers dress

What is it?

A sleeveless dress with pleated skirt covered in teeny tiny flowers

Is it blue?

Yes

What’s the fabric?

Blue floral cotton lawn

What’s the pattern?

The Lilou dress from Tilly Walnes’ book Love at First Stitch

Where’s the fabric from?

The Fancy Silk Store in Birmingham

What was good about making this?

The dress came together surprisingly quickly, which I think was because unlike the sweetie and elephant dresses it was only lined on the bodice, not the skirt too. I also felt pretty impressed that I managed to make pleats and fit an invisible zip.

What was bad about making this?

I didn’t make a toile (again….) and found that the bodice needed quite a bit of adjustment once it was on. I promise that I’ve now learnt my lesson

Would you make it again?

I wear it all the time, so definitely yes, but I’ll make the aforementioned toile first!

Spotty denim skirt

Spotty denim skirt

What is it?

An asymmetrical denim skirt with side button opening

Is it blue?

Yes

What’s the fabric?

I used an indigo denim cotton spandex with spots for the outer and some blue gingham I had lying around for the facing

What’s the pattern?

The Arielle skirt by Tilly & the Buttons

Where’s the fabric from?

The denim was from Guthrie & Ghani in Birmingham

What was good about making this?

I discovered I can be pretty resourceful if I need to; at the time I bought it, they didn’t think they’d get the denim back in stock so I had slightly less than I needed for the skirt. I altered the pattern to make it shorter (but not mini skirt length) and used different fabric for the facing. I liked how quickly it came together

What was bad about making this?

The top buttonhole. I’d not done buttonholes before and it took about six attempts to get the top one to work as there more than anywhere else the amount of fabric the buttonholer had to deal with meant it got pretty thick. I very nearly gave up completely. Also, the spots were white when I bought the fabric but went blue when I prewashed… And haven’t gone back yet….

Would you make it again?

Yes, not least because it’s a fantastic skirt for cycling in. I quiet like the idea of making one in red. I think I’ll make it full length this time (i.e. buy enough fabric!) and also tackle lining it.