Friday, 31 July 2015

Refashioning Shirts into Nightwear

Its not long now until The Refasioners challenge, the brainchild of the very lovely Portia, starts and when she asked me to join in (after I had picked my jaw up off the floor!) I had a few ideas buzzing around my head.  I had one main one which remains a secret, but one of the things I really wanted to make, and had a need for too, was summer night clothes.  My initial idea was to use the Sorbetto top (more on that later) with some pyjama bottoms cut off at short length but then Tilly and the Buttons released her new patterns and I couldn't resist so bought both Fifi and Bettine with the intention to use the Fifi for this refashion.  

My starting shirt is the lilac one on the right above.  In general it was in quite good condition, just slightly worn out on the collars and cuffs, so I didn't have to worry when cutting out.  The top is supposed to be all cut on the bias but as fabric on shirts is limited, I only cut the front and the cups (is that the right word??) on the bias, the three back pieces are all cut on the straight grain from various different places on the shirt.  I don't think this affects the garment that much, but maybe I will notice more when I have made one properly.  

The bias binding is satiny and was bought, rather than making my own which I would normally do.  I have additionally put bias binding along the top of the cups which isn't in the pattern due to a minor idiot moment on my part where I hemmed the top of the cup to the wrong side!  Design feature!!  The top is made beautifully with lovely French seams everywhere, which makes it feel so much more luxurious.   I love the look of this top, and at some point I will revisit it but only after a few changes.  The pattern is obviously designed for less well endowed ladies so it doesn't *ahem* sit so well on me!  I will still wear it in the privacy of my bedroom but there will definitely be no modelled shots and before I make it again I will be doing some serious altering to those cups!! The good news is the rest of the top fits beautifully.

The shorts came from the middle shirt in the picture above, which is actually white.  This shirt has a waffley texture and was actually quite worn out so I struggled to find enough fabric in it.  I did, but it wasn't all cut on the correct grain although I can't remember now which bits were cut from where.  It went together really quickly and easily with French seams again, and I finished the hems with bias binding just because I had it to hand and like the finish.  I will definitely be making more of these, they are so comfortable!!

Finally, to compensate for my Fifi being a bit too indecent to wear in public (my parents will be visiting soon and I wouldn't want to shock them before they've had their morning coffee!) I went back to my original idea and made a Sorbetto top.   This was such a simple refashion, I just separated the front from the back of the shirt. traced along the outline and cut them out, then sewed them back together omitting the bust darts and centre front pleat.  I then finished the armholes and neckline with bias binding, after carefully unpicking the top corners of the pocket to move them out of the way, then sewing them back down later.  I like the look of the pocket on the shirt so didn't want to unpick it completely.  I also used the original hem so no hemming, yay!  The only other thing I had to do was put an extra button right at the top.

So, one and a half new night sets from three old shirts - bargain!  I am really looking forward to seeing what everyone comes up with for this challenge and there are prizes to be won!  It's going to be amazing and it all kicks off on Portia's blog on Monday - Get shirty!!

Saturday, 18 July 2015

International Anna Party!!

I am sure the International Anna Party needs no introduction after flooding Instagram over the past 24 hours but just in case you haven't heard of it, it is the brain child of Elle AKA Laura Loves Pugs and she talks about much better than I ever could on her blog.  Suffice it to say I love a good party and I had been planning on making another Anna ever since I fiddled with the pattern last July so I cut it out on Tuesday and finished it today!  I don't know if it is the end of term or just that life is busy at the moment but I seem to be having less and less time for sewing these days and my sewing time tends to be snatched moments here and there.

As it has been a whole year since I made the alterations to the pattern I had to check back on here to see what I had done - and now I realise the absolute usefulness of having a blog!  Apparently I took a wedge out of the front and back necklines and lengthened the bust bit.  Whatever I did, I am really happy with the fit of this dress now and would like to make a few more but realistically it will probably be another year before I get round to it!  I would like some in a slightly heavier fabric, perhaps even a sateen, that could see me through to autumn.

For the skirt I used the Lilou dress pattern from Tilly and the Buttons Love at First Stitch as I love my skirt version of this so much.  I really think it works with this bodice, it feels so twirly and also slightly dangerous in a breeze!  The only changes I had to make were to shuffle the pleats slightly so they lined up with the pleats in the bodice.  This worked, up to a point.  I forgot to take into account the side seams so while my pleats just about match up, the side seam don't.  In all honesty though I am going to think anyone who comes up and starts checking out my side seams a bit strange (or a sewist!) so I'm not really that bothered.  And maybe I'll just finally get around to buying a belt!

When I made my first Anna last June I finished the whole thing beautifully with french seams everywhere.  This time though I just wasn't in the mood and needed to get it done quickly so all seams have been finished on the overlocker.  I know which finish I prefer (french seams, obvs!) but the overlocker is so much quicker and with limited time I just wanted to get it done.  I also hemmed it on the machine which I am slightly disappointed about so may unpick and and sew it when I have more time.  I was thinking of wearing this dress to a wedding next weekend but now I just don't feel its special enough which is a bit daft as from the outside it still looks the same!

The fabric came from Ebay (still for sale at £3.99 a metre!!) although I have seen it in quite a few different places this year, including Walthamstow at a lower price when we went there a few weeks ago.  I had wanted to make an Anna out of my Nani Iro I bought a few weeks ago (also yellow!) but unfortunately I only bought 1.5m which is nowhere near enough.

Aside from my laziness in the finish of this dress, I am really happy with how it turned out.  I love the colour (even though its a bit difficult to photograph!) and the elephants make me smile!

Monday, 6 July 2015

Compagnie M. - Lotta Dress

After having said in my last post that I have been doing a lot of sewing lately, I have practically ground to a halt!  This post was going to be a roundup of my sewing during Kids Clothes Week which was 22nd to 28th June but in the end I didn't even complete the week.  I started badly not managing to do anything on the first day because we took the Guides to the beach (I am a Guide Leader) and I was exhausted after!  I peaked in the middle of the week and made a t-shirt for a friend's daughter followed by 8 pairs of pants for mine but then the only thing I managed at the end of the week was to trace the Lotta dress pattern.  So not a complete failure I suppose but I definitely didn't manage an hour a day, although I probably did manage 7 hours over the course of the week.  It was a good experiment but on reflection I don't think I perform well under pressure so would probably prefer to just bimble along at my own pace in the future!

On a positive note, I finished the Lotta dress last week!  This is the second pattern I have sewn from Compagnie M. (the first being the Mara Blouse) but the first following the instructions and pattern to the letter.  I made the size 5 for my 5 year old and the fit is good, while also being roomy enough in the bodice to last her another summer I hope. I could have taken in the waist seam a tiny bit for a closer fit but I didn't want a very structured dress, if I was making a smarter one I might do that next time - there are instructions included for how to do this which I thought was a nice touch.  The general instructions were clear and straight forward and all the pattern pieces went together nicely, so big win all round!  

I love that with the Compagnie M. patterns the sleeves are interchangeable so the long sleeves from the Mara Blouse and Lotta dress can be used with this bodice.  There are also three pocket options included and three back closure options.  So a very versatile set of patterns to own.  I can see me making many versions of this over the next few years!

On this dress I went with the cap sleeves and button back opening (purely because I didn't have a zip the right colour or length!).  The bodice is fully lined enclosing all the seams and the raw edges of the cap sleeves and neck and making for a really neat finish.

The fabric I used came from The Village Haberdashery about two years ago.  It is called Posy by Aneela Hooey and when I bought it I thought it was perfect for my little girl.  However, I couldn't seem to find the right pattern for it and it kept getting put back in my stash.  I think it really works with this dress, but I think a lot of fabrics would work with this dress!  The lining is also from The Village Haberdashery and is a Kona Cotton Solid in Seafoam.  I actually bought it for another project but it goes quite nicely with this fabric.  The buttons are from a button tin that belonged to a friend's Grandmother and Great Aunt - it is full of vintage treasures and has been really useful!

I had just enough fabric left for a little dress for Edwina the Bear.  I made it by tracing around her body, adding seam allowances and making a lined bodice to which I added a rectangle skirt and an exposed zip at the back.  Edwina now has a pretty impressive wardrobe of her own, one to rival any bear!