Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Silver Evening Dress

Right O', feeling pretty confident now, with "OOOOO" 3 makes under me belt, so of course I'm ready to bite off more than I  really should chew! 

With a wedding invite back in Sept.  I of course  needed something to wear;  I had nothing, nothing suitable anyhow; case proven, therefore I had to have something new. 
So, pawing through the  pattern pages I come across V1130.  
What a beaut- looks simple enough, yes?- basic shift dress and a couple of floaty sleeves, what could be easier right?  wrong!

Bellville Sasson
Pattern arrived-took it up to bed that night for little light reading...well Flip My Egg - what had I done! it appears I hadn't read the details very well....

Sew rating -Advanced 
"the finest patterns featuring the bets of European & American Couture. Perfect for those who like the sewing challenge of professional tailoring & fine couture techniques. Expect intricate fashion shaping, hidden construction details, couture inner construction, fine touches of hand sewing & bias draping" ...WTF!!!!!!
Okay, time to practice what I preach to my kids-"life is about challenging yourself, not to drift through it" ( god I hate sanctimonious sods)   

Went for a silver grey crinkle number- ( I so need to sort out my textile know how) with chiffon(y) sleeves. 

The dress itself went together beautifully, the instructions were clear and easy to follow, loved putting the boning in to the bodice ( BIG TICK - a new skill learnt, applied, achieved) 

The biggest problems I came across were the sleeve/capes; these were supposed to be edged in the dress material but after numerous attempts (rather strops) I  decide the material would be too heavy - my excuse and that's what I'm sticking too.  so the edges got put through the over-locker,- that's what it there for and needs to be utilised to it's full potential.  
The next task was to insert "bound" button holes- the instructions may as well have been written in Swahili; researched and found a great tutorial by the Ami Lowden The Little Tailoress here  but on chiffon,well how ridiculous (do plan on having a go one day when I have an eternity to devote) anyway went with keyhole button holes, which, din't detract from the overall look.

Can't resist adding a bit of bling :)

 It feels dead special when worn- and the chiffon sleeves help to hide the old bat wings and feeling bare & exposed.
A poor attempt at a selfie!

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Spotty Number

If you can remember sunshine and warmth from last year then this is what came next. Oh, before I go on I had discovered SewDirect wooo sweetie shop revisited. Two free Vogue patterns when you sign up for  a brainer! Here was one of my patterns V8872


Went for View F - quite fancied a swirly skirt for the latter part of the summer- so off to Birmingham again and picked up a Rose & Hubble blue spot for £3.99 mtr from Silk Store (not too sure on composite, a poly-viscose? soft, silky n floppy- something I'd really like to brush up on) had already got some White Satin left over from the practice run on an Irish Dress 

It was all  fairly straight construction wise; main problems encountered were seam puckering with the  fabric- used fine needle and shorter stitches-have researched various tips since but never quite get it perfect when using fine fabrics; do you know how to get truly flat seams?  prompts keenly welcomed. The other area was putting in the zip- not one of my greatest fortes, but it was more on the inside as the pattern had instructed doing the back seam prior to insertion and I had then trimmed etc. 

I quite liked the finished result, wasn't too sure about the asymmetric shoulder area to start with, thought it looked as though I had just done them lop-sided or needed to hitch the left side up all the time- verdict at work- SUCCESS lots of oooo's and arrrrs, even a visitor in the ladies said it had caught her eye when I swooshed through the office ( I assume she meant in a good way and don't physically- don't think I got that close to her!! heheheh)      

See what I mean about the shoulder bit - or may-be it just me I like balance & symmetry 

Love the detail on the dipped back

So there we have item number 3. speed and enthusiasm building all the time 

Skirt No.2 Blue Brocade

Okay, next up was a more formal approach- I purchased this Vogue 7937 as there are five designs to chose from and very much my day to day work wear.

Went for view B 

The blue brocade I fell in love with - with its tiny paisley print and a two-tone effect of gold and turquoise Bought  from the Fancy Silk Store in Birmingham - great place- you can easily spend a couple of hours in there mooching; think they've got used to me now spending ages in there and not with the intent of hitching a roll up me jumper!! (apparently this has been known  WT>>>) 

Remember spending a Sunday morning putting this together, so so slowly. All the seam edges were over-locked... then realised "Muppet time" all the notches had been sliced off!!! 
All seemed to go together pretty well regardless, and was pleased with the top stitching along the seam lines.  
None of the skirts are lined so cut round front & back before attaching these together, but once again a learning curve moment - should be cut a fair bit shorter in length-OOOPS

So here's the finished item 
Not many pics as I never thought I'd be sharing this type of thing

Sorry poor picture 

Love |Button Detailing 
Then .....
has this ever happened to anybody?
Shrunk in the wash .. or did the lining stretch!!

I always pre-wash (more mishaps to be posted on this subject at a later date)  prior to sewing up, so not a clue what happened. 

Wasn't going to bin it just yet - So up went that bad boy 

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Irish Solo Dresses so far

It started with the White & Black dress for my own daughter... just to see if I could. 
It was a painstaking process, with no patterns for modern Irish dance dresses available, research many sites for tips and tricks- was probably the best and finding my head up many a dress skirt at a Feis! but even then it seemed as though it was a closely guarded secret for skirt construction- 

I think now its perhaps just a case of see what technique works best for you:) I was really pleased with the end results and so was her dance teacher Katie, her comment " I thought is would be good but not that flippin good!" Bryony, too was more than pleased to wear it and proudly told anybody who comment that her mummy made it! 

Next came Georgia's - I was terrified of this, making for somebody else- could I make it fit, would she like it? both she and her mom are amazing, we discussed colours, designs, fabrics but the best part was that they were more than happy for me to adapt things as they evolved. Trying to complete it (for my own deadline) ended up a little but like Cinderella - I was determined that she would wear it for the class Feis in Nov 12 and I ended up sitting up all night to finish it; my bleary eyes were rewarded when I saw her dance. 

Next up was Bryony again!! What little girl gets two dresses in 6 months!! Her white dress was always know as the practice dress as it had been agreed that she would have a pink dress, plus I really wanted to have a go at the cupcake style skirt (self indulgence). So off I started over the Christmas of 2012, what a fiddly process- yards and yards of white twinkle satin, cut on the bias, fed through the machine on a close zig-zag with fishing wire!!! and approx 1000 crystals stuck on by hand!!! 
here's the fishing wire technique though found on Youtube
Found that when putting the skirt together we had gone over zealous on the cupcake so had to take lots out- OOOO the pain all those crystals!
we added even more crystals on belt later on 

After that were Sarah & Beth, ( Gold/black & Pink & black) fairly similar with the cupcake skirt but tried my hand at a bit if free machine embroidery. 

Sleeves were a play on SnowWhite

Little Jessie, white red & silver I think is still one of my favourites, based on hearts this went together with little hassle ( may-be that's why it a favourite!)

Next was a revamp of an old dress, Emily's mum had an old dress that was no longer on trend but some of the appliqué work was still good, I replaced the front side panels with the white sparkly fabric, took at the arms and shortened from the shoulder, constructed a new skirt and voilà a new lease of life. 
Old style - skirt shape no longer in "fashion" 

Well we got round to Bryony again!! I saw this crazy black net and knew i wanted to turn it into a dress- Bryony was to too keen at first but once Katie had seen and too loved it, well then all was back on ( mum's apparently know very little :)) This dress was on and off, as she was not desperate for it I dabbled with it, at one point I went right off of it, I wasn't prepared to spend out on crystals but after plodding on and beginning to like it again we went for it ...£120 worth of AB crystals ( hope hubby doesn't read this) 
Once these were added it began to come to life. The first time it was showcased- We were both aware of nudges, whispers and comments about the dress- 2 people even came up and asked who designed and where was it made ( slight embarrassed blush, but brimming with pride) we later added a sparkle net over lay on the skirt - you just can't go over the top with these dresses. 

70 AB crystals on collar alone!

No.13 - not so unlucky
The purple & silver dress (Cadbury chocolate purple was the brief) was a little more challenging with the intricate Celtic knot work but did enjoy it. Digitally stitched the outline of the knots, cut out ( which was pretty hard going on the fingers) then applied to bodice. 

The most recent is the beautiful turquoise dress for Erin, again learning from experiences - never again will I use a shimmery over lay. It stretched, shredded and frayed; the end results I think work really well and the feedback was lovely. 
"Erin normally blends into the back ground, but today she was so confident and it showed in her dancing" 

All the dresses have been made for girls that dance at the Martin Academy of Irish Dancing- they may not be quite as ornate or on a par of a "Gavin" or "Celtic Star" but I think they are a fairly good representation. 

I will keep updating as and when any additionalities come along. Thanks for taking the time to read XX

For those involved in Irish dancing or fancy a go making one for their daughter i will have a go at posting my next dress to show the construction or evolution side of things !! 

How it all started

There has always been an attraction to sewing and the idealism of creating distinctive "stuff";  but early efforts were somewhat squashed by my sewing teacher at school... non of this nature nurture malarky. After cutting out a fine blue checked wool ( that was tutted at, to start with!) for a skirt in the first lesson, my interest was heighten and I decided to "have a go" at home - well, one seam after another and, was finished and it fit -whoo was I was pretty dam proud! 
The following week the reaction form teacher was rather different... bawled out in the front of the class "you stupid girl, now what will you do for the next 6 weeks?" ( Dilly the Dash Draft Excluders' apparently-anybody remember them?).
From then on, the odd pattern was dabbled with, but was never really happy with the finish on the inside- seam allowances, I loved making curtains etc. for home especially in the swags-n-tail era. Then 3 years ago, I ended up making Gold Satin Knickers for my daughters Irish dance group after been quoted £20.00 a pair! Some how this lead on to creating little replica/adaptations of costumes from Lord of the Dance for them. 
Lord of the Dance 
Finale at Hyde Park  

Red dress of Morrighan

The Little Spirit
Adaptation of Saoirse

12 little versions of Cletic Kiss 
Original Celtic Kiss 

I then plucked up the courage to attempt a Solo dress for my daughter, (these dresses can be very elaborate and expensive anywhere from £400-1500) the result... well my life, it weren't half bad! 
The first practise dress 

Since then I have been asked to create and make for others. 
Realising that my love of sewing was growing and growing...( with little sign of is stopping).I began to think that may-be I'd out grown my lovely Janome. So, I eyed up the MC9900 at the Sewing for Pleasure show, but whoo what a price- would need to work on hubby. However, this was easier than first thought, after lots & lots of research just to make sure that this was the model I really wanted/needed I found Paul at Rona sewing machines- fabulous customer service.  
I then went on to "have a go" at making myself some items and...yes, I actually enjoy wearing them-people seem genuinely shocked that I have made them and proceed to provide me with lovely compliments...(isn't it sooo nice when that happens)  
I know I still have a very long way with honing my skills, but in the meantime I am enjoying the journey. I plan on uploading projects that have been completed so far and comment on the patterns used and issues that occurred, to use as my own working diary and if this happens to help, aid or inspire others then all the better.