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Friday, 12 May 2017

BHL Anna dress & top hack

I had my eye on the ByHandLondon Anna dress pattern for a very long time  and then was very lucky to receive it along with the Sarah Shirt and Elisalex dress as part of my Refashioners prize win last year. Truth be told, the only reason Ive not made it before now is, firstly I never buy 4 metres of fabric - I always buy without a plan and usually buy one or two metres.  And, well its a pdf.  Thats a lot of pieces to stick together for that long skirt!!  Anyway, I got a wonderful gift of some hand printed Indonesian Batik - 4 metres to be precise!!  and I found a good printers near my office to print it out.  So yes, Anna could finally happen.

I knew I would love this pattern, the slightly wide sleeves, fitted bodice and A-line skirt are my perfect shape and I wasn't disappointed at all.  Straight up there to the top of my favourites pile!!

Its also a straightforward make.  I played around with it to get the fit of the top right, but once I had that good, it was very straightforward.



I specifically made this Anna dress for a trip to Athens and it really is an ideal summer dress- especially for one who gets so easily red!  It covers perfectly whilst being very cool.






I loved the shape of the bodice so much, I wanted to create a top out of it.  The bodice is quite short, so it needed some hacking to evolve into a top.  I had a few attempts and got it right on my second.  I basically just overlaid my Anna pattern on my usual top block and extended it downwards to merge with the block.  I then for the front, I drew a line extending the middle of the darts, then continued down the darts, tapering in towards the bottom.  

This is the back overlaid with my block - as you can see, its perfectly easy to extend and even the dart is almost perfecty aligned!

I did the same for the front and here you can see how i extended down the darts.  The thicker markings just before it tapers in is where the bodice goes to. By doing it like this I found the darts create a nice curve on the body (well on mine at least!)


And I ve made two so far- one in jersey, which I made a lot smaller due to the stretch and one in Tana Lawn- which is made to the usual size.  On the tops I also added turn backs on the sleeve for added emphasis, which I really like - just an extra strip of fabric sewn on & turned back to finish them off.



Saturday, 15 April 2017

My watson jacket

I fell in love with the Papercut patterns Watson Jacket the minute I saw it!  I spent a long time considering fabrics, in the end I bought this wool from Fabworks Mill shop. Its a great fabric and I m really happy with my choice for this project.  Its a lovely grey/blue colour with flecks of different white/blue shades throughout and a thin black stripe.


Of course with any jacket, cutting out is one of the biggest jobs!!  With the coat, the cape & the lining thats a lot of pieces.  The pattern only asked you to interface a few pieces.  But I wasn't confident that gave enough structure, so I followed what I did in my Francine jacket making process interfacing a lot more.  I didn't cut it very accurately as I was using some odd shaped scraps I had to work around, but I did the top & bottom of all pieces on back & side body, then interfaced the full front pieces.





so first up putting the cape together - easy bit and exciting!
 Next up the bit I found most tricky.  I totally fell out with the instructions, couldn't make sense at all on what was supposed to be sewn where.  You basically sandwich the cape with the side pieces, but its where to align at the top that caused me issues.

So first time round was a disaster, it clearly was sewn in the wrong place as nothing lay flat round the neck and the back was way lower than the front... grrr


The only way I could make it work was by unpicking, sewing the bottom side seam up towards the underarm (that bit should definitely meet!) and sewing the cape to the back as that should also be flat,  then doing this on my dress form to work out where the shoulder bit should come together so everything else works flat.

 So this is what it should look like

then on the next step you are eventually aiming for all the bits to come together neatly.  One side on mine is a lot less neat than the other but you live & learn & I d already done too much unpicking to risk any more on this fabric ( I was already on my second front panel and didn't have enough fabric to cut a 3rd!)





 So much cursing had happened, but when I finally made sense of it, look, its looking good!
 The rest was quite straightforward.  Quickly put the arms in and made up the lining.  I wanted to make a special effort with the lining so I used a chambray grey piping with my new piping foot and Liberty tana lawn lining which looks stunning, even if I do say so myself.

I still lined the sleeves with satin as i find that much smoother for getting on & off and in wear, but the body lining is perfect in tana lawn.

And I didn't forget to sew in one of my tags!   I was tight on fabric so I didn't get the  stripe pattern matching perfectly on the facing, but hey, lets call it a design feature ;)

Attaching the collar was fine, just I had an issue with bulk- Collar, coat, cape all sewn together with 4 of the pieces interfaced makes for a big thick bit!! If I was doing it again I would perhaps look to attach the cape or collar differently so they don't all meet. Or sew the facing of the coat and the back of the collar with a lining fabric thats much thinner to reduce bulk.  But with some good trimming and layering of the seam, its ok. Actually it looks really bulky on the hanger but when you wear it you can't feel or see it.


I bagged the lining following the Closet Case Files Clare Coat directions - see the guide on their website as it worked magic last time and did again here.


So one final thing I should tell you about - fate meets opportunity. I had a small scissor incident and when I cut my 2nd front piece, I got it too short.  Don't ask.  And as I already mentioned, I hadn't enough fabric for a 3rd attempt.  So I shortened the other front piece and decided to engineer a dipped hem.  I absolutely love it. I think its better in style than the original, I m so happy with my mistake (and its not often I say that).  I cut the other front piece to same size as my mistake piece, then I graded the sides down to the original length at the back, creating a sweeping hem line.  I also took it in a bit more at the sides to create a great silhouette on. 



As per my previous coats, I wasn't going to ruin it with sewing button holes on my machine so I basted position of button holes and went to DM buttons in SoHo who kindly did them for me on their industrial machines for £5.  Money very well spent.

So there we go, I love this jacket.   When I started it, I had in mind it would be a lightweight spring jacket as the wool fabric is not so thick.  But actually with the interfacing, lining and the fact it has so many layers, it is rather warm!

Here is the final jacket, on & off.  It looks great with jeans.  I'd recommend this pattern for sure, just have a rough go of working out the assembly of the body/cape before committing your precious fabric. ;)






Now my final thing- I m not sure I sewed the buttons in the right spot.  The collars are equal in size, I ve triple checked but they don't look it on and the front hangs down a bit.  I think I need to redo the buttons, pulling the front further over so the front piece goes higher up under the collar and the collar pieces come closer together.  What do you think?  I already re did the buttons once,but they are not right are they?

Messy Essy Makes
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Thursday, 6 April 2017

upcycling shirts!

My husband wears shirts on a daily basis and does have a tendency to buy very expensive ones.  Every so often a find a pile of them in the category of 'do you want these shirts for scrap fabric or should I take them to the charity shop'.  Well  I've discovered that lots of things can be made from an old shirt!  When they come my way they are usually just a bit worn around the cuff/collar or the fabric has a rip/pluck somewhere- but usually the rest of the fabric is just perfect!!

Here are 2 projects transforming shirts into something new!


First up, an on-trend bell sleeve blouse!

His favourites shirt all come from a gorgeous Italian Camiceria in Lucca, Tuscany called Cerri that we go to every year.  Its a special place where they  have gorgeous handmade shirts.  I m very thrilled when one of their shirts heads my way as the fabric they use is stunning.

So this is why I got this one- the cuff had worn out. shame ;)


So first up I cut the sleeves off & cut down the side seams to open it out.

I then use my top block to cut the bodice.  I cut the back bodice out of the front of the shirt, so the buttons go centre back.  I wanted to keep the original nicely curved hem so i line it up with that.

Here you see it...  I left out the darts and just tapered in the side seam a bit, as I didn't want darts interfering with the stripes.

Then I cut the front piece from the back of the shirt. I did put the bust darts in, as I find they make a huge difference to fit.  So I sew the shoulders together & check how its looking on my dress form.

 I open out the sleeve piece and use a sleeve pattern I have in my collection.  I wanted bell sleeves that are so on trend right now and i wanted to make a feature of stripes going in different directions.  So I laid out the pattern pieces like this (also it was the only way they would fit!!)  Sleeves are from Simplicity pattern 8213

For a bit of added interest I lined the cuff with some contrast Liberty.  Its a nice detail that you can see when you move & the added weight gives more body, which I wanted to emphasise the shape.
 And I made matching bias binding to finish the neck
 And here she is.  2-3 hours tops, including cutting.  I left the hem as the original, so no sewing there and I left the buttons original too.

Here is the back view...
refashioned shirt

And the front...
shirt upcycle



refashion sewingSecond my shirt skirt! 

He gave this lovely purple striped shirt to me for scrap and I saw new life! The cuffs and collar were worn but the fabric great.














First I cut off the fabric under the arms, straight across front and back.  To the front: I added some pleats down the front and sewed down the side of the buttons so it doesn't flap open - I sewed down to the last button, so the bottom bit opens, but not the rest.
upcycled fashion



To the back: I added some darts


To the side: I added an invisible zip
Then I made a waistband from the sleeve fabric and used the remaining buttons as a fastener.  I really like the stripes going round at the waistband as a nice contrast.






So there it is!  It cost me nothing and only took a couple of hours.  I ve got my eye on some of his other shirts.... when they reach the end of their shirt life, maybe they can be reborn too.

What do you make from shirts?  Share your secrets, I m always looking for new ideas.
Messy Essy Makes
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