Monday, 27 October 2014

Prize patterns...

This was quite a few weeks ago now but I won one of the amazing prizes Jane organised during OWOP. I got to choose three patterns from the huge selection at The Village Haberdashery. As you can imagine this took some time, but I eventually went for these beauties...

 Firstly the Sew Over It 1940's Tea Dress which is a bit different to my normal style of dress but I think it's time for a change and I was drawn to the pretty shape and sleeves. 
The sleeve length looks perfect and I'd like to give a few more v neck shapes a go. It's not something I usually go for by always find they look really flattering. I like the look of the panelled bodice parts and the faux buttons on the front too. This one is up next on my to make list and I've matched it up with this navy and white polka dot stretch cotton.

Next I went for Colette patterns Hawthorn. I've seen a few of these around and love the skirt shape, I really like Marie's various gorgeous versions especially this one. I was looking for another dress with mid length sleeves, you know winter friendly, and I love how you get three versions out of this one pattern. I'm going to start with the sleeved dress and then possibly go for a shirt too. This is going to be a challenge as I've only attemped one piece of clothing with buttons so far, that went ok so onwards and upwards I suppose?! I'm going to use this navy print shirting cotton.

Lastly I opted for the Sewaholic Saltspring. This is clearly for next summer, this isn't a very winter friendly garment, but I've been lusting after it for a while and would love to have a go at the maxi version so jumped at the chance to add it to my pattern stash.

Thank you so much again to Jane the Village Haberdashery!

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Funki Fabrics: Intergalactic....

So this post contains a bit of a different make to usual as I was approached by Funki Fabrics who asked if I'd like to try out some of their fabric for a new make, after having a look through their HUGE selection of prints I couldnt say no!

 I didn't really know what I'd end up making but I went ahead and asked for a nice big selection of samples. It was quite difficult to narrow down my choices but I got there in the end and went for a batch including these....

The samples gave me a much better idea of colour and scale of print and, having not really worked with anything like it, it was great to get a better idea of the feel of their Flexcite stretch fabric. This fabric is obviously perfect for sports and swim wear, it has an amazing multi way stretch and the print colours are so deep and vibrant, you can give it a really good stretch and it takes quite a bit for even a hint of white to come through.

Seeing as I don't really use this type of fabric I thought I'd go outside of my box for the print choice too and decided to forgo the spots (GASP!) for the AMAZEBALLS galactic print.....

This print is just gorgeous, so vivid. However I did think that I probably couldn't get away with a dress in this fabric so I had a change of tack and decided I could probably do with some new yoga clobber. So for my pattern choice I went for the Matilda leggings by Sewloft. (Go get it, it's free!)

I was a little scared to sew with this fabric at first but oh wow, it sews up so easily, it's stable enough to go through the machine really smoothly with no horrible tension issues or machine eating tantrums. This pattern came together in no time...

I used a zigzag stitch throughout...

Having never made anything like this before I'm really pleased with how they turned out...

Pretty pink legs!

This fabric peice came up pretty big too so I've got enough of this print left to either sew up another pair of these or I might hold onto it and attempt a bikini at some point.

If, like me, you find it hard to narrow down your print choices I've also learned that Funki Fabrics also now produce a whole sample sheet including loads of designs so you can get a better idea of what prints you're after in the flesh rather than on screen, available at the moment is their autumn collection. You can read more about it here.

Along with this print I also picked up some plain black cotton elastane and some amazingly pink stretch lace. I'll get round to these makes soon!

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Me Made Wedding Dress......My top tips.....

I feel like I learned such a lot during the making of my wedding dress, and not just sewing techniques, so I thought I'd put together a few pointers that I think would be useful to anyone thinking of giving this a go themselves......

1. Planning/Time Management

I'd say start as early as you can. I started to think about the whole thing a year before the day, and actually started the dress 6 months before. I didn't want to feel any sort of time pressures and I wanted there to be enough time to put a plan b into action should it have not worked out how I wanted. I really wanted to make sure I enjoyed the whole process and for me knowing I have more than enough time was really important. Who wants a deadline fast approaching when you're trying to handstitch silk?? erm not me. I didn't plan on loosing or gaining any weight before our wedding either so I didn't need to worry about fit issues or alterations nearer the day.
This also goes for the time and planning you give yourself for the actual make. Don't try to cram too much into one day or evening. I gave myself a cut off time each day as I know I'm prone to making mistakes when I get tired and I had thorough to do lists for each day. It felt nice to tick off each element and have nice bit sized chunks to do after each tea and biscuit break :)

2. Research

Get on the internet. There are loads of amazing people out there who have done this before and it's so useful to hear how they went about it and found the whole process. Theres also never ending resources when you need to learn new skills. I looked up all sorts from sewing with silk to pattern alteration tips. It's also so nice to have a good nose at other peoples wedding dresses. Two of my favourites are Zoe's stunning blue dress and Dixie's super cute Macaron.

2. Choose a pattern within your comfort zone

I didn't feel that this was a time for me to be trying out skills that I've got no clue about, like boned bodices and fish tail skirts, mind you neither of those were anything I would have ever wanted but my point is I think it's probably best to stay close to your skill level, unless you've got some mega time on your side and you're starting practice dresses maybe a year in advance? I went with Victory Patterns Ava dress , with a few modiciations, it was still something I felt comfortable enough with to not have a melt down about any particular parts. I was outside of my comfort zone with the fabric I was using and that was enough of a challenge without adding in a pattern that melted my mind.

3. Practice makes perfect

Make as many practice run dresses, or parts of the dress, as you need to get it perfect before you cut into you beautiful dress fabric. I made 3 practice runs out of old duvets, drew on them, snipped them, and even tore them. This was so worthwhile as I knew when it came to the actual dress that my pattern pieces were spot on and I could be confident about every snip and stitch.

4. Fabric choice

I'm not sure this is really a tip but I wanted to mention it. I had no idea what fabric I wanted to end up using. I usually make dresses out of cottons, viscose and the odd bit of denim so I had no idea about silks, lace and other fancy things. For me the best option was to go shopping andsee what fabrics I liked the look and feel of and go with that. I did know that I didn't want anything shiny or too slinky, not only would they be nightmares to sew I wasn't really after that sort of look. Once I had chosen my fabrics I then researched how best to use them; how to cut it (who knew you'd add paper layers to cut silk?!) which needles to use and how to treat it. All info found through the wonders of the usual, plus a bit of advice from the lovely guy in the fabric shop :)
So I don't think it's necessary to have worked with your chosen fabric before as long as you do your research and make sure you have the right tools for the job.

6. Enjoy the process!

This is my most important tip! Who wants to go through all of this and look back and remember it as being stressful or no fun? In my opinion this should be the most fun you ever have making a dress. You're only going to get one chance to wear it (although I'm trying to think where I can legitimatly wear this dress again....erm can I be invited to a super posh cocktail party please??) I loved making each part of the process it's own little event, a lovely day fabric shopping, a nice little weekend in my 'studio'. I'm glad I took photos as I went and these blog posts are really just for me to remember it all by, but thank you for reading them and I hope they were fun for you to read too?!

If you're thinking of or actually in the process of making youre own wedding dress let me know in the comments, I'd love to see and hear about it!

Friday, 17 October 2014

Me Made Wedding Dress.....the end....

So on the 27th September I was mainly wearing.....


and it fitted perfectly and didn't fall apart or anything!

To say I am pleased with this make of mine is a slight understatement. I feel so proud to say that I gave it a go and actually succeeded. It may not be the most intricate of wedding dresses but it is totally my style and I couldn't love it more. It felt so rewarding to have people pay so many compliments on the day and to see their faces when you say that you actually made it yourself. The majority of our wedding day was diy and that made it so personal and rewarding, all of the hard work is completely worth it.
(I prattled on about the dress making process here and here)

Would I do it again?
YES; but I obvs hope it's something I never have to do again!
Would I do it for someone else?
NO; I've learned what a personal piece your wedding dress really is, I'm not sure I could take the pressure of having the fate of someones dream dress in my hands!
Would I recommend you do it?
YES; at least give it a go, it seems like a daunting idea but once you get down to it, it's just a dress! It's a bit more fancy and your fabric might be a bit more expensive but theres so much help and advice out there from other sewers and bloggers on the internet you'll always find tips and advice and if you give yourself enough time you're going to be fine.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Me Made Wedding Dress.....the middle....

So I've rattled on about where the ideas came from and how I got started, this post is about actually getting on with it.....

So what was in that fabric bag? I ended up choosing some beautifully drapey and super soft double silk crepe in ivory. Not only does this feel amazing against your skin but it hangs so well and I knew it would be the perfect weight for the skirt. After much deliberation I also chose some beautiful french corded lace.....

I came across the silk quite early on in the day and nothing else quite measured up. The lace choice took a little longer as I was shown more and more options...

I knew I wanted something a little more irregular than a repeated print that would make it difficult to cut into, and I didn't want something that clearly had roses or paisley, I also didn't want to have to buy too much to make sure I could pattern match (this stuff aint cheap) So I went with this pretty...

I really didn't think I'd ever choose fabrics that looked so 'weddingy' but when I got to really think about it this is a dress for an event you're (hopefully) never going to repeat which makes it way special and very different to any other dress you'd wear. I'd thought I might go for a bold colour or a fancy print but when it came down to it I really did want this dress to be different from anything I've made or will make again and I actually got into the whole wedding vibe and surprised myself by actually quite liking the idea of having a 'wedding' dress. Who knew?!

Making my dress in a one bedroom flat and managing to keep it a secret from the Mr was always going to be too much of a challenge, not to mention keeping it all away from our black catface whose fur ends up EVERYWHERE, so I booked a weekend to go down to my mum and dads in Somerset which turned out to be perfect.

I had a whole room to spread out in with no distractions, it was my little sewing studio for the weekend. 

I made a thorough plan of everything that needed doing and split it over the weekend so I knew exactly where I was at. I found this so helpful to keep up with where I was at, especially after tea and biscuit breaks :) I was conscious not to cram too much into each day and to finish up at a decent time rather than keep sewing into the night, I had no room to make silly tired mistakes.

Cutting into that expensive fabric was pretty scary stuff, I used the old mantra 'measure twice, cut once', but maybe more like 'measure 5 times'.....

I'm so pleased with all of the effort I put into this dress, I had to make friends with that old enemy hand sewing but it was so worth it.

I managed to get pretty much the whole dress finished within the weekend. It still needed hemming but it needed a good amount of time to hang before I could be sure I was cutting a straight hem!

It felt pretty strange bringing home a dress I wasnt allowed to wear for another 6 months...

I did have the odd peek, mainly to check it hadn't fallen apart or, on the more panicky days, to check it hadn't disintegrated or been eaten by a hoard of moths, thankfully neither of which actually happened and I did get to wear the spoils......I've got those photos now so hey'll be up in my next post!

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Me Made Wedding Dress.....the beginnings....

So as eluded to in my last post, a couple of weeks ago I went and got all married up to my love and managed to do it in my very own me made wedding dress.

So how do I start to talk about this scary, amazing, fun and extremely satisfying process?? Well it all started about this time last year, I wanted to squeeze in as much planning time as possible before I actually cut into any fabric, and it was all finished by March this year so I suppose 6 months from getting some ideas on paper to having the actual dress hanging at home wasn't too bad? It went something like this.....

As soon as I started to think about what sort of dress I wanted to wear I knew that I definitely wanted to at least give making my own a try. I think if I'd gone ahead and bought a RTW dress I would have a felt a bit sad that I didn't at least try out my own hand made dress first, and starting early I knew I had a decent amount of time to give it a go and have time to go panic shopping if it all went wrong!

So I started off reading blog posts about other amazing sewers giving theirs a go, the only one I managed to bookmark was Zoe's amazing blue dress, but theres loads of other amazing dresses out there. 
I knew what shape dress I was after, sticking with my usual style of dress I wanted a nice 1950's shape. Fitted bodice, possibly sleeves and a knee length full skirt. So next was to start pattern searching. I won't list all of the patterns I ummed and ahhhed about but I ended up going with the Ava dress by Victory Patterns...

I love the cute sweetheart neckline with sheer overlay and the full (almost) circle skirt. 

So now was practice time, from someone who barely bothers to make a muslin for new dresses I totally excelled myself and went all out on the pattern tweaking....I thought it would probably be worth it ;)

I ended up making 3 versions of the dress before I was really happy with the fit. Using up some old duvet covers and some questionable cheap 'lace'....

The most hacked up pattern pieces I think I'll ever have...

So once I was totally happy with the pattern it was time for fabric shopping! 
Oh me oh my, Berwick Street is a pretty nice place to go splash some cash and even though it was the most costly fabric I'll probably ever lay my hands on it was still sooooo much cheaper than any wedding dress I'd seen so it felt pretty good to be 'saving' so much money....ha!

I went one day with my mum on hand for an honest opinion and did a good lap of all shops before making a final decision. I really didn't have a particular colour or style in mind, I think that made the process a bit easier as I wasn't intent on finding the exact thing I had in mind. I was open to looking at anything and the sales guy in the Cloth Shop was so helpful, he had me draped in all sorts...

scuse silly 'not ready for photo' face

Apparently this was the best way to figure out what you like, to be able to see how it's actually going hang and sit together, and I must say that it did work well to visualise things better. I never thought I'd be a lace lover or go for fabric quite as 'weddingy' as what I did buy but it was all so gorgeous...give me all the french lace!!

We ended up going for a little burger break at Byron before making the final fabric decision...

Well you can't make a decision like that on an empty stomach!! 

The final purchase! 
I'll get into whats in the bag in my next post and get some actual pictures of the final dress sorted :)

Saturday, 4 October 2014

The prettiest dress I ever did make......

So last weekend was pretty awesome, on Saturday I wore my very own me made wedding dress!
(I was at my wedding, not just walking round Tesco.....thought I should just put that out there)

Here's a little sneaky peak....

We're currently getting some well earned rest on a sun lounger but I'll be sure to blog all about it and add just a few more photos soon.