Monday, 28 February 2011

Inadvisable Fabric Purchases of the Week (Curse you eBay)

Sometimes, when the red mist of eBay descends on you, you can't be held responsible for your own actions.

The combination of the cold-from-hell and the husband kindly purchasing me an iPhone (early birthday present - I love that man) kept me nailed to the sofa for pretty much all my leisure hours this last week, perusing eBays iPhone app - everything looks so much cuter on a tiny screen!
So these were my impulse purchases:
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1. A mountain of Lurex.
Yes - Lurex. I'm as retro as the next woman (unless she is one of those Civil War recreation people), but there are certain fabrics that history has taught us to avoid - and surely Lurex is one of those? I imagine that you can't do ANYTHING with unless it is lined and that it is probably one for the as-yet-unused Stretch Stitch setting on the machine? It was cheap though and came wrapped in a strangely spherical brown paper package that my husband suspected might be a human head.

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Stinky Curtain

2. A stinky curtain.
Don't be fooled by how cute it looks in the picture, described as being "Clean, but could benefit from a wash to freshen it up as it has been in storage." In storage where? In a packet of fags? In the tap-room of a pub from 'The Sweeney'? I had to wash the bugger TWICE to get that lovely fag-stinky smell out of it. And this is an ex-to-occasional smoker speaking. I haven't left any eBay feedback yet, I'm going with the old "If you can't say anything nice don't say anything" theory, but the seller must have either been completely smell-blind or one of the cast of Shameless to not notice that the damn thing REEKED.
I also purchased some vintage bias binding and some patterns, but they were relatively sane.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

February's Dress - Wedding Belle

So having made a reasonably successful toile I felt confident that I could make something fabulous, or at least wearable, for my friend's wedding.

Dupion silk is good stuff! It's nothing like it's slippery cousin and behaves perfectly nicely. Everything took shape quickly and easily. I did however run into a few problems, but these were all due to my own incompetence.

- My gung-ho "Just bung a zip in the back plan" wasn't entirely successful and I needed to tack down a bit of the neck by hand to make it look less weird.
- My lazy hemming - it looked fine from the outside, but I was worried that someone might examine it closely and realise that I just folded it and machine stitched it - badly.
- The bow was tacked on wonky, I did this when I was off sick from work, so it's no great surprise that I wasn't really feeling up to trying the whole thing on and making sure that it was right. That'll teach me, I ended up on my hands and knees with a pair of nail scissors and a hotel sewing kit, 15 minutes before the cab was due to arrive, mending the damn thing!

Here is the end result, I forgot to get any pictures until we got home, so it’s perhaps a little more creased than it was when we first set off!


I 'frankensteined' the pattern by adding this ribbon bow from Vogue 7171, rather than the side-fastening one made from fabric that came with the pattern. End result much the same I’d have thought.


Thursday, 10 February 2011

Toile and Trouble

I decided to make a dress suitable for wearing to a friend's wedding and as I had recently had delivery of just over 2 metres of bargainous olive green dupion silk, I thought that some sort of sophisticated cocktail dress would be in order.

Step forward Vogue 5942.




And a bow!  How I love a bow.

As my fabric was so lovely and I had a whole weekend with no plans I decided that I should do the right thing and make a toile first.  Am I glad I did.

When I opened the pattern I noticed something amiss.  The pattern pieces had no printing on them!  Just plain pieces of tracing paper with holes in them!  This meant a lot of referring back to the instructions as regards cutting out etc.  I was tempted to give up there and then.  But I persevered and managed to work out what pieces went where - eventually.  Once the actual sewing started things seemed to be going well, I made the bodice and it fit beautifully.  I made the skirt, this too seemed to fit nicely.  The problem arose when I put the pieces together - if I lined the zip hole in the bodice up with the zip hole in the skirt the seams on the skirt were horribly wonky.  If I lined up the seams on the skirt so that they looked like the drawing then the two zip holes were a good 3 inches apart - what to do?

The solution was obvious.  I had a glass of wine and gave up for the night.  I'd been working for about 7 hours on it by now and my patience was pretty much exhausted.

The next day I started afresh - with a bold new plan!  I would sew up the stupid under-the-armhole zip-holes and put a good old-fashioned back zipper in!  There was a centre seam down the back of the skirt and I could just add a bit on to the bodice.  I decided to test this on the toile and cut that bodice in half, ripped out some of the back seam on the skirt and (badly) stitched a manky old spare zip in. Success!  The results looked pretty good (if you didn't examine the actual quality of the sewing too closely).

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With renewed enthusiasm and a spirit of derring-do I set out to cut the pieces out for real.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Peter Pan Syndrome

    I am enjoying one of those brief moments where things that I like suddenly appear all over the High Street.

    Maybe 'enjoying' is the wrong word.  Yesterday I was utterly bemused by the sheer number of Peter Pan collars in New Look.  They are everywhere!  In fact, if you enter 'Peter Pan' as a search on the New Look website there are no less than 65 matches!



    And all this before you even get into two more of my favourite things; huge bows and stripey t-shirts.  There are some lovely-looking (from a distance) '60s inspired dresses in there, but closer examination and a price tag of around £30 leads me to believe that I could actually make something, far cheaper, that wouldn't look so - well - cheap!  Haven't these people been to Leeds or Walthamstow Markets?  Don't they know how cheap decent fabric can be?

    Dorothy Perkins is similarly blessed at present, I'm starting to wonder if they have a acquired a new buyer with taste eerily similar to mine, possibly someone I know.  I purchased a lovely shift dress with a large bow at the neckline and a contrast stripe down the middle.  There are also dresses with scalloped collars, something else I'm a sucker for.  Dresses with bows!  Dresses with bell sleeves!  Colour-blocking!  Did someone just raid the Vintage Pattern Wiki for inspiration?

    Of course the trouble with these dresses is that hundreds of other women will be wearing them (obviously not with the same style and panache as me), I'm still hoping that some of them will turn up in the charity shops in 6 months and then I'll buy them to wear to work. I would NEVER dream of wearing a brand-new High Street dress to a party or club though, the risk is just too great. At least with genuine vintage (or shoddy homemade tat) the risk of seeing a lady in the same dress is very small indeed.