Sunday, 6 October 2013

Branching out

Sometimes I agonise over finding the right pattern for a fabric (or vice versa) for months letting it sit stewing in my mind until i'm COMPETELY convinced that I haven't made a horrible mistake. Other times I just shred  a pair of unworn shorts and throw the pieces towards the remnants of a winceyette skirt that never was. Sometimes the latter is  a hot mess and sometimes it's freaking awesome!!

The pattern for these shorts was made by unpicking a pair of shorts that I loved as a kid but haven't worn more recently because shorts for 13 year olds tend to be inappropriate for non-13 year olds and for some reason people don't think that patchwork aqua hawaiian print hot pants are appropriate for school (go figure!) I didn't change much from the original shorts other than adding abit of ease at the sides and length at the hem to downplay the obscenity!

The shorts came together surprisingly easily, although they sat for a week staring at me before I got up the courage to begin. I mainly guessed the order that they were supposed to go together in and I think it worked pretty well, although I'll make some changes next time I make them (and they will be made again!)

What makes these shorts is the fabric. The winceyette isn't exactly a traditional shorts fabric and it's definitely flimsy but it is sooooo soft! I've been lazing around in these non-stop since finished them because they are seriously the comfiest things I have EVER MADE!! Mmmm snuggly! The only problem is they pick up fluff like bitch.
The slash pockets are (in my opinion) pure awesomeness! Taking the extra few minutes to understitch made them sooo smooth and professional! (I mean haven't you heard the Paramore song "Understitching is your new best friend! Understitching is your new best friend!") I used the same gingham fabric as my gingham dress pockets, it's a never ending store from years back.

Now I know what you're thinking and the only work I can use to describe this zipper is atrocious!! After clawing at it a front fly for hours my attempts started getting worse not better. Eventually I admitted defeat at inserted a botched mash-up between an invisible and lapped zipper (at that point I didn't know which I was doing :/ ) To be honest I don't think it would be so bad if I hadn't used the same aqua zip from the original shorts, so if anyone asks the colour clash is a design feature!) The awkward zipper also means there's a slight gap between the two waistband pieces which I failed to fix with a shank button and a self-fabric loop. the only saviour is the cute silver ship button. Navy blue and nautical button just go together. It's irrefutable fact.

These shorts are BIG for me, not literally( ...duh. :P ), but because I have a VERY specific style, in sewing and in general. Let's face it I have the fitted bodice gathered skirt thing down and I go to SA (skirts anonymous every Friday) because (I'm not kidding) It's been almost 3 months since I last wore trousers! Anyways, this means that my sewing is mainly the same shape sewn in different fabrics so shorts are completely out there for me. Sewing this one pair of shorts has made my feel more accomplished than all of mu dirndl skirts combined (and I have a LOT of dirndl skirts!). It's safe to say that even with all my improvements and achievements lately I just assumed anything even slightly trouser related was utterly beyond my capabilities.... Now i'm game for anything! Skinny jeans here we go!!

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

We're of to see the wizard...

Gimme an M, gimme an I, gimme an L, gimme an E, gimme an S, gimme a T, gimme an O, gimme an N, gimme an E... What does it spell? MILESTONE! Yaaaay!

Today marks the first time in my entire life that I've completed a garment from a pattern!! EEEEK!! Now technically this dress doesn't even slightly resemble the pattern I used, but why split hairs right? The original dress was a basic be-sleeved (Sleeved?) princess seamed dress, with a slightly flippy skirt. Waist definition? No. Full skirt? No. Princess seams? YES! So I hacked off the dress at my waist, cut off the sleeves and neckline and free-styled the back, straps and sweetheart.

The whole pattern decimation thing ended up with a couple of minor (major) fitting issues up top... especially considering that the pattern (which i stole from the top of my grandma's pattern stash) is a simplicity Miss Petite... and I am not petite) but I fixed that by adding in more fabric then pinning out the excess. (like a pro! :P )

Now onto the best design feature EVER!  The hook and eye corset front. As soon as I saw this textured gingham I knew I wanted to recreate this dress I saw on Katie from Skunkboy Creatures, which meant hook and eyes. I've never (successfully) used them before so I mainly improvised, handsewing them onto the front of the dress and then sandwiching them inbetween two layers of fabric... Those suckers aren't coming out, plus there's a back panel behind it meaning they don't actually open (so i'm not coming out either!)

In seam pockets y'all! I was surprised at how easy these were, although when I do them again I'll make them a smidge bigger. The fabric is from my stash because one type of gingham is not enough!

And can we just take a moment to appreciate the AWESOME pattern matching at the back? AND a lapped zipper (my first ever!) just so you know.

Overall, I'm over the moon about this dress! It's been a while since I made an actual dress and I've been making lots of simple basics (some bloggable some not) so was nice to know that this didn't actually take too long and wasn't majorly difficult! Plus  know have 3 sewing goals out the way: Patterns, Princess seams, darts and inseam pockets!

Just for the record here's the pattern I used and my inspiration dress.
Asos summer dress in gingham check
Simplicity Miss Petite 8887

Ps. I know also know what i'm wearing for Halloween!! :P

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Tuesday Tunes-day:

There is absolutely nothing that links these songs except the fact that they've been buzzing around my head for the last few days...

Mal Blum- Brooklyn
Mal's website has a music player that starts playing her songs whether you want it to or not as soon as you enter it and the first time I went on her website the song that started playing so completely described my feeling that I feel in love with her completely. Her albums are like the diary I never wrote... but better, because let's face it diaries suck! My friend once described her sound as "cool but a bit too hipster" and I get that her less "cookie cutter" sound might not appeal to everyone but the differance between Mal and every other indie artist out their is that she is completely genuine. This is from her latest album Tempest in aTeacup and it's one of the rockier songs...

Sara Bareilles- Hercules
I've loved Sara ever since I woke up one morning and had to search Google for "that girl with the weird name who's song that I saw on MTV a few years ago is now stuck in my head". I've always thought Sara's lyrics were a lot more poetic than most singers, plus she can hold a note like you wouldn't believe so... This song is from her latest album The Blessed Unrest, it's quite different from her other albums as with each album she evolves and grows.

The Moldy Peaches- Downloading porn with Davo
If you've ever watched Juno then you probably know the Moldy Peaches, even if you don't think you do. I don't normally like this song that much but it's currently locked in mind. Plus it's hilarious.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Bow ties are cool

Let me tell you about my faaavourite thing to do ever: T-shirt making!! I started making t-shirts almost exactly a year ago and because I loved the design process so much I fell back into sewing. Yay! Over the year I've experimented with bleach painting, stamps, stencils and continuous patterns (Plus I REALLY want to get into screen printing!!) but I always come back to freezer paper. It quick, it's easy, it doesn't take any specialist equipment (just fabric paint, a Stanley knife and the actual freezer paper) PLUS I can do it on my bed! SCORE! I'm a real graphic t-shirt nerd too so it works out really well as all I have is write evenly, no drawing skills required! (The only real problem is that they're a one time deal, so you can't do multiples)

That brings me to today's project:  A birthday present for my friend... (Luckily by now all my friends accept that they'll get handmade t-shirts as presents for all eternity) I know that my friend loves the geeky t-shirts they sell at Topshop... (What can I say, she does triple science...)

And here
She also LOVES Dr Who... we actually did a 24hour Matt Smith Dr Who marathon which works out as every episode with Rory and Amy!! (Possibly the best and most insane 24 hours of my life and I didn't fall asleep unlike some people...) So this is what I came up with...

To keep it scientifically correct I had to skip L and E, but the rest are all real elements (Boron, Tungsten, Titanium, Einsteinium (Hehehe), Argon, Carbon and Oxygen)

I leave you with this... All together now "There's Antimony, Arsenic, Aluminium, Selenium..."

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

The Dress: The Final Product

AKA Part II (Jeez!! This is a saga you might just want to look at the pictures and be done with it!)

Okay, so when we left off I had decided to make the dress, found my fabrics and had a vague idea of what the hell I was supposed to be doing... This sense of calmness lasted about five minutes...maybe four. The problem was that because of my final exams, an impromptu trip to London and my involvement in planning the actual Prom, I didn't properly start the dress until two evenings before. The bodice lining was complete and the bodice pieces were cut but that was the extent. Hopefully you can see where this is going...

Yup you guessed it waiting until the last minute meant that everything that could go wrong did! The first issue that I had was that when cutting out the bodice pieces I had corrected all the issues that I had found with the lining, this would be fine but I hadn't changed the lining itself. So I attacked the two fabrics, eventually managing to sew them together. I then flipped the bodice over, ironed and under-stitched(ish) it only to find that the two pieces were two COMPLETELY different shapes which was distorting the sweetheart and meant that the centre back was not in the centre of the back!. I unpicked it, leaving a tiny row of dots in my silk (Sob) and altered the lining so it was the same as the outer fabric then re-stitched them.
The victory photo I sent my bestfriend the moment I finished it!!

From there on out it was pretty smooth sailing. I constructed the skirt like a classic dirndl skirt, with a waistband the same width as my bodice's waist and a full gathered skirt. I then stitched the skirt to the bodice, right side to right side. The only issue was that by that point it was around 12pm and everyone in my house was asleep...Lets just say there is no quiet way to use a sewing machine!! (However I did only use it when very necessary and I whispered "Sorry" every time I started)

I had reached the final hurdle! Once the invsible zipper was inserted I would be done, with a day to spare! Buuuttt, my sewing machine, who had been working very hard for the last few hours, decided that sewing in zips wasn't really it's style. I still don't know exactly why it refused to sew in the zip, and if I hadn't been adament that I was going to finish the dress that night NO MATTER WHAT I probably would've left it until the morning and figured out the problem. But no, I am me therefore I decided to hand sew in the zip, at 1am, IN THE DARK because I share a room with my sister!! (Alright I had a torch but it wasn't exactly a professional set up) The zip finally went in, albeit VERY wonky and I fell asleep with the dress on top of me.
With a sash I mad from sewing the seams of a rectangle of satin and turning in out

Everything was fine until the next morning when I got  to FINALLY try on my dress and realised something that I had been ignoring up until that point: I LOVE sweetheart necklines, but I HATE them on me! At this point I was ready to throw in the towel and burn the freaking thing but I decided to save it. I cut a piece of the lace and stretch satin into a rectangle (the width of my bust+seams x 12cm) I then folded it over and pressed the fold and seams, then I attached the rectangle, like a skirt waistband, right over the top of the sweetheart neckline. This meant there was a straight band on top of the sweetheart covering it completely, finally I added a hook and eye.

This dress was definitely not well thought out, or especially well executed, but it is one of the biggest projects I've ever attempted and I think it turned out looking gorgeous! (plus the last minute change to the neckline balanced the dress out nicely!) It definitely made prom feel more special (Whoop whoop, only girl in a handmade dress!! :P ) and I literally spent the entire night going "I can't believe I'm at Prom wearing a dress I made!!".  To be honest I still can't believe that I made it entirely on my own with no patterns or help of any kind!! EEEKK!! Before the pictures, however, let me show you my favourite part of the dress...

1m Plastic Boning: £1
Ditsy Blue Silk Crepe: £2.67 (Remnant)
Black Cotton Lining: £0 (Stash!)
Teal Polyester Stretch Satin: £10.50 (Thank you mum!!) (With looooaaadddsss left over)
Black Lace: £6.65
18" zip: £2.69
Hook and eye: £0 (Stash!)
TOTAL: £23.51 Stick that up your pipe and smoke it!!

Facebook photos stolen from my friends... And yes, yes my glasses lens did fall out at prom...

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Tuesday Tunes-day: Classics

Howdy friends (top ten things no one should ever say... EVER)
Today is my official last day of freedom before term starts (although we don't start actual classes until next week) so I'm getting that jittery, excited , nevous feeling; I think it's mainly left-over exam results anticipation because this term has been a looooong time coming! To be honest though, I think i'm ready to get back into a normal routine and actually USE my brain (sssh don't tell anyone!!). I always think that the year really starts in September, not January, so instead of fireworks here are some classics to herald on the new year.
Green Day- Longview
I'd forgotten how much I loved Green Day until I caught the end of their set at Reading Festival on the TV. Now we're back in full on obsession mode and I've listened to Dookie and 21st Century Breakdown 3 times this week...I'm not proud...or tired (Arlo Guthrie anyone?...No? Oh.)

Red Hot Chili Peppers- Dani California
Red Hot Chili Peppers...'nuff said.

Tortilla Army- Can you hear me
I probably wouldn't have heard of Tortilla Army if my mum hadn't known them, but they are a TRULY AWESOME band. As such an obsessive person I'm not ashamed to say that I know every song on their first album.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Tuesday Tunes-day: Do you have an hour or two and a pot of tea?

For some absurd reason I love to listen music whilst I sew. Now this is fine if i'm hand sewing or doing all the sewing prep, like pattern cutting, but usually it's completely arbitrary as my sewing machine drowns out the songs. So I decided to share with you the songs I would be listening to if I could hear them ;) Plus I love an opportunity to be alliterative AND punny!!

Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin-Nightwater Girlfriend

I found out about SSLYBY a couple of years ago and loved them but then they kinda slipped my mind and I completely forgot about them. Now they're back and I have been playing this song CONSTANTLY since it was released, like seriously I should be sick of it by now, but i'm not! It is literally the perfect song because it works as background music AND rocking out music (aaah it's like the holy grail!) Also I now know all the words so it doesn't even matter that I can't hear the song i'm still singing :P Other favourites are: oceonographer and You could write a book
Lisa Mitchell-Coin Laundry
When I first heard this song I wasn't really sure about it. I'm not always a fan of Indie-Dream-Pop (is that even a thing?). However this girl id literally the cutest thing ever and I've escalated from pleasantly surprised to OBSESSED! (Another favourite is Clean White Love...hmmm, I think there may be cleaning theme emerging...)

Never Shout Never-Happy
Two Missourian band in one post?! (Gasp) I first heard NSN when their song played in a Sherlock fan video (Yes. Yes I did just say that) and I really love how they make even shitty stuff sound really upbeat (Pollyanna syndrome anyone?) Also can we just take a moment and talk about the singers voice? Oooh the accent...shivers, actual shivers. Anyways other favourites by them are Can't stand it, Lousy truth, I love you more than you will ever know and Cheatercheaterbestfriendeater (when the names are as good as those you can't help but love the songs!)

Sunday, 18 August 2013

How to replace an elastic waistband

There are a couple of reasons why I ADORE my best friend, (she's sweet, kind, funny, generous, always knows what to say and is THE BEST at  shopping (I haven't even gotten started yet)), but the main reason is that she's lets me steal her clothes in return for me making her stuff! WIN!!

Point in case is this minty lace skirt that I pulled out of a draw one day and said the infamous line "Why have I never seen you wear this". THEN I noticed the weird shiny striped elastic waist, since she's an elastic-waist-no-belt kinda gal it was a kinda awkward look. Sooo, in return for us not mentioning the chambray dress that i'm currently wearing, she let me take the skirt and work some crafty magic on it.

This isn't so much a "How to" as a "What I did" (How to do what I did...?) and either way it's super simple.
Equipment needed: 1 skirt with naff elastic, 1 length new elastic, Stitch ripper Sewing machine
Step 1: Unpick naff elastic
Step 2: Cut new (unoffensive) elastic to the same length as the original waistband (Amazingly enough when I went to the fabric store to buy the elastic I found an remnant the EXACT length that i needed!! SCORE!! Plus I saw the same elastic i'd just ripped off the skirt...Awks :/)
Step 3: Sew the elastic ends together (Am i the only one who spent 5 minutes trying to work out which side was the right side?) Then sew the seam allowances down, to neaten it up.
Apparently I didn't think to take any pictures of anything but the really easy parts...sorry :(
Step 4: Mark your elastic into 8ths (divide the length by 8 then mark it on the elastic)
Step 5: Repeat for the actual skirt
Step 6: Pin the two together but ONLY at every marking (start by matching the Centre backs then work outwards
Step 7: Sew the skirt to the elastic stretching as you go (I used a medium length straight stitch and (with the skirt on top) held the two pins either side of the needle to stretch the elastic to the same length as the skirt)
Step 8: TWIRL!!!

It was seriously that easy and done it under an hour, it would've been less if I hadn't been scared shitless that i'd ruin my friend's skirt! (I can't be the only one who cuts corners for herself but has to make things PERFECTLY for others!) On a side note it was my first time actually sewing elastic and although I constantly thought it wouldn't work, and my machine HATED it, it was surprisingly easy! Win! Plus until my friend gets back from France the skirt is all mine! DOUBLE WIN!

"A personal signature? (GASP) How thing you know she'll be using HTML"

Saturday, 17 August 2013

The Dress: Planning & Preparation

Since my prom dress was THE DRESS that started this all off it was only fitting (Pun intended) that I start off by telling you ALL about it...

I decided to make my prom dress when I realised that I had neither the money or the inclination to actually spend money on a dress. I also couldn't find any dress that I thought were my "style", although I wasn't really sure what my style was! Every girl I knew was shopping, browsing the internet and finding the perfect dress and I was sitting the there being slowly dragged towards my deadline, whilst not even sure I was going to make the damn thing. Suffice to say I was NOT a happy bunny! (the Facebook group set up for all the girls to post pictures of their prom dresses on didn't help)

I spent A LOT of time thinking and sketching trying to decided on a "look" that I could design around (or blatantly steal) and I came up with this mood board.
1) Free people 2) Free people 3) Rachel Antonoff 4) Etsy 5) Modcloth 6) Ark 7) Asos 8) Asos
I fell HEAD OVER HEELS for numbers 3 and 5 so decided to make a strapless sweetheart bodice with a short twirly skirt. (This was to become a reoccurring theme!!) I then spent MANY weeks hanging out in the fabric store narrowing down my fabric options, since it was a one-time thing and would probably still be cheaper than a normal prom dress I was ready to give the big bucks (Read: over £5/m) for Silk. I'd narrowed down my fabric options to 2 purple silks (1 floral, 1 with squirrels) and 1ditsy blue. I was leaning towards the squirrels but wasn't sure they'd be very prom-y... Just as I was leaving I noticed the sales-lady sewing the price on a remnant... the same floral blue silk crepe that I had been ogling seconds before!! It was like a sign from the gods; the fabric was paid for before the price was even attached to it. I figured that even if I didn't use it for the dress it would be a good piece to experiment with (for my first time sewing silk. Eeep!) or just to add to my stash and stroke!

That night I drew up a vague pattern for the bodice and sewed it up in a random piece of black cotton from my stash. I loved it and decided to make the whole dress from the blue fabric (a la numero 3). I went back to the shop 2 days later to find absolutely NO SIGN WHATSOEVER that my blue silk had even existed!! (There was also no sign of the squirrels and i'm STILL kicking myself for not buying any when I had the chance! It was on sale and too perfect for words :'( ) Still reeling and unsure of what to do I wandered over to the remnants box where I saw a deep teal stretch satin material. There was a good lot of it for cheap and although I didn't like the right side (too shiny) I thought the wrong side went well with the little swatch of crepe i'd brought. (my friends had taken to carrying pieces of their dresses around in case they went impromptu accessories shopping, I had a slightly more legitimate reason)

As time went on, however, the dress ground to a halt. Why, you ask: 1) I had just been plunged into the BIGGEST MOST IMPORTANT EXAMS OF MY LIFE!! (Essentially life stopped and I disappeared into a revision-shaped cocoon, emerging only to restock on flashcards and take the damn tests) and 2) I HATED the skirt fabric. It was so much heavier than the delicate silk and and colours were so similar (yet dissimilar...?) that I really didn't think they'd work together. My mind essentially refused to work on the bodice until I had worked-out the skirt, and it wouldn't touch the skirt with a barge pole. 

So, 2 weeks before prom I was in the fabric shop, getting some light relief before my final exams, when I realised I'd walked into the middle of a half-price sale!! Say it with me now "HALF-PRICE SALE!!"...aaaah music to my ears. Then slap-bang in the middle of the shop was a roll of black sparkly lace. I took out my swatch and knew instantly that what my skirt needed was a black lace overlay for texture. I rushed home and a quick Google search (for Teal dress black lace overlay) confirmed my hope.
After all if it's on Modcloth it must be good ;)
I went back and immediately bought the black lace. It had a beautiful scalloped selvage edge and was luckily it was wide enough that I could squeeze both the front and back panel from one 70cm piece! I had also bought a long blue invisible zip and 1 metre of plastic boning and after reading this post (to find out what the hell I was supposed to do with it) I was ready to finally crack down on the dress!

For those of you who are wondering the dress was entirely self-drafted! I took a buttload (hehe, or rather boob-load!) of measurements and winged it referring to this post towards the end. I also bought a cheap nasty crop-top in the same sort of style as I wanted my bodice to be and took it apart to look at the construction. The skirt was just a simple gathered skirt I've made a million times before.

See Part II to see the final dress and find out about my nightmare sewing experience...

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Summer goals

Hey y'all, how's it going? (I hope you imagined that in the world's worst southern accent... I know I did!)

So, since you now know that this blog is technically waaaayyy behind schedule I thought I'd catch you up on a few of my crafting goals (Intriguing n'est pas?) , because some of them have even been realised! Yay, self-five!

After finishing my prom dress I came to terms with the fact that I have no finishing skills at all; Honestly it was like a shedding cat inside that thing (Fraying seams and thread ends agogogo). Therefore I decided that by the end of this summer, which is EXTRA long for me (Yay!), I would have mastered all (ok, most...alright some) of these techniques:
-French seams
-Princess seams (I'm obsessed, and not just because of the name :P)
-Darts (Bust, waist, the type where you throw metal spikes at a board...I'm not picky)
-Raglan sleeves
-Set in sleeves
-Pockets: Slashed, In seam and welt
-Invisible zips...that are actually invisible
-Flat felled seams
-Using a pattern ... Okay, this one probably sounds weird but I've only ever self-drafted my clothes, either by rubbing off existing clothes or just drawing vague shapes onto fabric. The idea of using  a pattern, and having the, in my opinion, hardest part done for you, thrills and terrifies me!
-Bias binding/binding in general
Luckily I have The complete book of sewing, Dressmaking, my great-grandma's Ann Ladbury Guide to pattern alteration and almost every edition of Mollie Makes (EVER) to help me along the way!

I'll keep you guys updated on how I'm going. It's debatable how many of these I'll have done by the end of the summer, but I'm hopeful.  After all, any progress in an improvement! :)



Tuesday, 13 August 2013

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Well fancy seeing you here...

Well hi there! Fancy seeing you here in this convenient little corner of the internet I just set up. Why don't you stick around a while, i'll put the kettle on and we can talk all about out crafting exploits...sound like a plan?

Well, straight off the bat I have to tell you that I was supposed to set up this blog MONTHS ago to document my attempt to make my prom dress, mainly to force myself to actually go through with the idea. (Because if it's out on the internet then that makes it real...right?!) However, months went by sans blog  and I kind of gave up on the idea, "I mean. a girl with a clinical deficiency in self-motivation keeping to a blog schedule... Don't make me laugh!". THEN one day I realised that not only did I have a gorgeous hand-made prom dress in front of me but atleast half a wardrobe full of clothes I'd made myself. Suddenly I couldn't keep this to my self, so I decided to document it and the blog idea was reborn! Yay! :)

The name Fledglings First has no real meaning, it's just something cute my Grampa says before he offers he the last slice of cake or doughnut, so I, atleast, think it seems sweet and strangely fitting. (Plus I ADORE alliteration!!... Geddit?!)

That's the end of what was supposed to be a brief "Hello"...Hmmm perhaps I do have a tendency to Word Splurge... 



Ps. Just so you know, I do tend to overuse ellipses... and it WILL annoy you...also CapITaliSAtIoN for emphasis...You have been warned... :P