One of my resewlutions for this year is to make a pair of trousers. I’m completely clueless when it comes to sewing pants so I’ve signed up for this course at Sew Over It. It comes highly recommended by other bloggers who have made some lovely trousers on this course. I trekked over to see the Man outside Sainsburys last weekend and bought some stretch cotton in preparation. His selection didn’t fail me. Aren’t these prints gorgeous? I’m going to use the black/grey print for my first attempt. The floral fabric has a textured weave and is quite sturdy. They’ll see me into autumn nicely. Anyone doing a sewing course at the moment?
You are probably aware of this wonderful fundraising idea from Karen at Didyoumakethat and maybe taking part already. The challenge is to make something by September 10th in support of the National Literacy Trust, a charity which aims to raise literacy levels in the UK. Reading for me is one of life’s pleasures. I struggled with reading at primary school but thanks to dedicated teachers, I moved on from simple first readers to mini novels. A visit to the library soon became a weekly event and I quickly devoured the complete works of Enid Blyton!
All you have to do to make a donation is go to the Just Giving page. I’m pledging to re-fashion this vintage dress belonging to my mum. I’ve been given permission to cut it up. Which is just as well as it won’t go over my head or above my hips. Mum was super skinny when she had this dress custom made. Re-fashioning isn’t something I do much of so I’m looking forward to the challenge.
Last weekend I went to Riviera Style, an exhibition on swimwear and resort wear at the Fashion and Textile Museum. It’s one of my favourite museums and I go to nearly every exhibition. Although it’s a relatively small museum, it never gets too crowded and it’s the perfect size for me as I tend to get exhibition fatigue after an hour.
The exhibits were fascinating, ranging from itchy woollen one pieces to the first modern swimsuits and glamorous beach pyjamas. It showcased fashionable styles worn at the British seaside and the Côte d’Azur. I love these bright swim hats.
Play suits were popular too. The rose print one comes with a matching pleated skirt. Aren’t the prints adorable.
I was pleasantly surprised to see a few vintage sun dresses in the exhibition. The purple dress is by Horrocks and the halter neck dress has a postcard print on it. Costumes go right up to the present day with swimwear worn by athletes at the last Olympics. The was also a mankini. Who knew that it was originally designed for a woman!
The next exhibition is Liberty in fashion which charts the history of the makers of the famous tana lawn. I can’t get enough of the stuff and am a big fan of the store, so will definitely be going to that one. If you want to catch Riviera Style, it’s on till mid September.
Great British Sewing Bee top
I very rarely sew for other people and if I do it’s usually a baby gift. However my sister had a big birthday coming up so I decided to make something for her. She’s also the person who patiently takes blog photos for me, so it was time to give back.
I went with two patterns, the Great British Sewing Bee top from the first book and my hacked bat wing top. Both have a loose fit and are quick to sew. She also fits the same size in RTW, so I didn’t need to worry too much about fit.
I used some fabric I’d recently bought that she’d admired so I knew the prints were to her taste. The batwing top is made with floral jersey and the graphic print top is a poly crepe. I love the abstract print and have enough meterage to make something for myself.
She always drops hints about me sewing something for her and both presents went down a storm. She’s modelling them in the pictures you see. Anyone else doing any unselfish sewing?
I’ve not been in the mood for long projects lately so I’ve resorted to sewing with knits. I made this top using some dirt cheap cotton jersey I bought from the epic Cloth House sale a few months ago. Knits were going for £1 a metre and I came away with 8.5 metres of fabric – score! I used the Mandy boat tee pattern which is free from Tessutti. It’s a one size pattern, so very roomy. I was worried it might swamp me, so I compared the pattern measurements to a favourite RTW top and took 4 inches from the front and back width. I also shortened the pattern by a few inches.
I sewed most of this on my over locker, which the exception of the neckline, cuff and hem. I did have a scary moment though, when one of my pins went under the blade. Luckily the broken pin was caught in the overlocking.
I love the look of the boat neckline and my top stitching turned out ok. However it was a different story on the hem. Despite fiddling with the tension dials and stitch lengths, I kept getting slipped stitches. I tried stabilising the hem with some wash away tape but still no joy. I wasn’t using a fine jersey either so not sure why it wasn’t working.
It was only when I changed the needle from a twin stretch to a twin ball, that my stitches started to improve. But I still ended up with a few skipped stiches on one row of my stitching. They blend into the pattern so I can live with it.
I didn’t want the same results on my sleeve hems as they’d be under more strain, so I made bands for them. So what do I think about this top? I like the front but the back hangs a bit funny. It gapes open and this makes for a chilly back. I made the mistake of chopping too much off the hem which doesn’t help. The gaping at the back is solved by wearing a cardi. I’m not going to cry over it as the total cost of this top was £2! If I do make this again, I’ll lengthen it by a couple of inches.
Ok, I might be overstating this somewhat, but I was completely blown away on a recent visit to the Cristóbal Balenciaga museum in Spain. I ended up spending 2.5 hours in there.
Inside the foyer
The museum is in Getaria, Balenciaga’s home town. I didn’t know this place existed until after I’d booked my holiday, so it was a lovely surprise. What more could I want from a holiday – sandy beaches, mountains of tapas and a museum on one of the most influential couturiers of the 20th century!
The collection is vast and displayed over 3 floors in a modern purpose built museum. It details Balenciaga’s early work as a dressmaker to European aristocracy to his haute couture label in Paris. Balenciaga is known for prints, embroidery and fluid lines that caressed rather than constrained the body. He created the tunic and sack dress silhouettes and pioneered new fabrics such as gazar which gave structure to his increasingly sculptural creations.
Dresses made from gazar
Some of his designs were so ahead of their time you could wear them now and no one would guess it was vintage. I think the column dresses below look really contemporary. There’s a hilarious film in the museum of a model wearing one of his sack dresses in the fifties walking down the street being gawped at in disbelief by an old lady.
My favourite room was the one which displayed the hallmarks which characterised his designs. What I found particularly fascinating as a sewist were the interactive displays which showed the individual pattern pieces and how they came together to form the garment in front of you. Some displays also rotated, so you could see them from all angles.
The museum what one of my holiday highlights and definitely worth a visit for anyone with an interest in costume.
I’ve been on a sewing break as my employment situation has been a bit up and down this year. I feel guilty about sewing when there’s job hunting to be done. But things have settled down now so (fingers crossed) I can get back to my machine.
This kimono top came in really handy on a recent holiday to Spain. Temperatures reached the high 30s and I wore it all the time to prevent sun burnt shoulders. I used a pretty floral print viscose brought from the Man outside Sainsburys. I love the bold print and it looks fab made into a kimono.
The pattern is from Love Sewing magazine
issue 5 and was a breeze to sew up. The front, back and sleeves are all rectangles. I decided to taper in the sleeves at the under arm seam as they were a bit too flappy for my liking. I also took a bit off the length as I was short on fabric. These kimono tops are everywhere at the moment and it’s great to be able to make my own. As it’s so quick to make and the sizing is quite forgiving, it’s perfect for a present. The pattern comes in different sizes and I made a small.
My hand made hat from last summer also had an outing. Don’t you just love clashing prints and wearing hand made on your holidays.
Posted in handmade, sewing