Adventures, home sewing, revamp., sewing

Frumpy to flirty

For those who don’t follow my sewing blog (apologies to those who do) here is my latest project…

1-before and after1

I adore charity shops there seems no end of inspiration. It might just be my own obstacle, but am fearless to alter items bought secondhand that I would hesitate to alter new!  Thrift store or charity shop seem to bring out my adventurous  side- especially if there are only a few pounds at stake!

Sundress before frontThis dress caught my eye – I knew the style was not right for my body shape but the fabric thrilled me so much I bought it anyway. It is your standard maxi sundress – with a shirred top, you can find lots of dresses like these at the moment, even in charity shops.

Summer sundress fabric

As you can see this fabric is wild! Lots of different colours going on – including different coloured backgrounds. the great thing is that there is no directional design, it all seems to flow freely, which makes pattern cutting easy.

Sundress before

You can see from this picture why this dress style doesn’t work for me – the uni-boob is not a flattering look! My waist has completely disappeared and as this dress falls from my boobs, it has added excess inches around my whole body! As if I need any more inches adding! lol.

Sundress skirt length

Look what happens when I lower the gathering down to the waistline, it already looks a lot more flattering. It is a very generous skirt, there is lots of fabric to play with – and definitely enough to make a top half! While the shirring is a great scale for bodice, it is a little too wide for my waistline- so I shall shorten it and remove the top edge.

Vintage 1950's pattern

My inspiration for this re-fashioning came from a vintage 1950’s pattern –   the gypsy top element to this dress pattern is a delight! When I was growing up in the 1970’s gypsy skirts and tops were everywhere I loved swirling around in my circular skirt – an enduring link with hot summers and gypsy style remains with me today. I love the way the puffy sleeves give a bit of balance to the full skirt in this pattern it emphasises the hourglass shape. It is unashamedly girlie!

New Look top 6277

Given my love of gypsy tops, it won’t surprise you that I had this pattern in my stash! I wanted the bottom left style – intending just the top section to be used for this re-cycling dress. Somewhat less of a square neckline than the 1905’s pattern- but the sleeves would more likely cover dreaded bra straps! (Monster bra straps are a necessity for the larger bust!)

New Look no longer sell this pattern, but there are a couple of similar ones that would work just as well. New look 6892, or New Look 6891.

Take largest pattern piece and measure the overall length  this will determine how much fabric you need to cut off the bottom of the skirt. As mine is a maxi skirt I had plenty of fabric to play with so I ended up with a circle of fabric that was just a little bit longer than my top pattern piece.

The key here, is not to un-pick any seams: as it will reduce your overall available material. I folded the fabric over with a seam running straight at a fold and then cut the bodice piece with  the centre front at the ‘fold’.

My fabric was so wild that the original seams disappeared, even though one old seam ran across one of my sleeves at a corner edge, the material still remained intact. The pattern matching was easy, but I did make sure the pattern pieces went in the direction of the dress, e.g. the top of the pattern piece was at the top edge of the fabric.

Upcycled dress neckline with decorative elastic edge

The main feature of a gypsy top is the gathered edge that is either elasticated or gathered by using a cord. I had this delightful heart shaped lingerie elastic, so gently zig-zagged it on to bring the neckline in.

If you are using any of the patterns listed above, shorten the bodice and back to just below the waistline, then add the dress to the lower bodice edge. The shirred section is now the waistline.

It is just a case of then finishing your hem edge, we are so used to seeing overlocked edges I decided to finish mine in black.

1-DSC03781

I don’t think this dress is far from the original 1950’s pattern inspiration – more importantly it makes the most of my waist which is more flattering.

As an re-vamping overall I am very pleased with the results – so much so that I am going to scour the local shops for more!

 

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applique, crafting, Tutorials

Fabric Portraits

DSC01658

Its wet and cold outside, so there is nothing more delightful than having a little time sewing and being able to kick back and play a little. I am teaching a couple of workshops and one of those explores free motion embroidery but I thought I would also try a hand at appliqué portraits as an option.

It is a great way to use up scraps as you only need small amounts of fabric. It can be quite interesting to play around with the fabric direction to enhance the shape. I really liked the way this brown flower piece seemed to create an interesting top detail.

Free motion embroidery is addictive! its just a case of dropping the feed dogs, (the metal teeth that move the fabric past the needle), most machines have a little button, most likely your manual will tell you where to find yours. Use a embroidery needle, its not just sharp but also has a strong shank.

Self portrait

I used this picture as a template – I wear a lot of hats and so it is a recognisable feature.

You need to print your picture out roughly the size you want to stitch.

While this photo looks a good choice, the tilt of my head creates an angle for my eyes, and my mouth is slightly tilted you can see what problems crop up in the stitched portrait.

As it is just playing I decided to go with it.

Stitched portait

You can get something called dressmakers’ carbon paper, its used to transfer embroidery designs or simply use ordinary carbon.

Iron your fabric so that it is free of creases it should be larger than the picture.

Lay the carbon paper on top – make sure the transfer side is face down onto the fabric – finally place the picture on top.

Carefully trace the features, eyes, mouth, hair and nose. It helps if you use a ball point pen that shows up in the photograph so you can see what you have traced. Its important to check you have all the pieces because once you lift the picture off, you cannot re-do it.

begin stitching

I find it easier to back the fabric with some iron on interfacing, and a hoop. It prevents the fabric from shifting and wrinkling as you stitch.

Drawing with your sewing machine is easy but different to using a pencil. The needle stays in place and you move the fabric to create the lines rather than the paper staying still and the pencil moving!

Use a darning foot – you can see easier and the loop of the foot prevents the fabric from being pushed through the holes in the footplate.

You may find it easier to work backwards and forwards, moving the fabric quickly results in large stitches, or slowly creates tiny stitches.

applique shapesOnce you have created the features, you can trim it and then assemble the appliqué shapes.

Use the photograph to create the appliqué templates, such as the hat, and the dress.

Use the lines not just to highlight the features, but also to give shading to the hat.

rose applique

Finally I added a rose appliqué, another feature I often have is a flower brooch in my hair – this was a tiny flower on a scrap of fabric, but it really brightens up the whole picture.

I think it is best to simply follow a few lines, rather than go into too much detail. I could have put in the cheeks and little dimple that you can see in the photograph, but it can go drastically wrong! less is more.

As you can see, the tilt has meant my eyes are at a slight angle. I think I can get away with it, but maybe next time I shall try and get a more level photograph.

I do hope you will try this, its so much fun – frame them in an embroidery hoop and hang on the wall.

ttfn x

1940's, sewing

Forties style

 

Dresses used fabric economically
Dresses used fabric economically

Remember that wonderful dressing up box we used to have as children? Well the great thing is that we can have this feeling every day. The wave of Vintage style I believe is our desire to go back to dressing in a feminine way, and possibly some of the old fashioned values.

I go dancing to a wonderful venue in Brighton, it is set up just like a 1940’s dance and I really enjoy dressing for the occasion. I am at heart an old fashioned girl, I love to look feminine, I love hats, wool coats and summer dresses and I find it so wonderful that at last we can all dress in this style and for it to be accepted. I still get some rather odd glances at times but mostly I am thrilled that many people will compliment me in the street!

The difficulty I have is deciding what style I like, I do enjoy the victory rolls and fabulous music of the 1940s and love swing dancing, but I also enjoy the upbeat notes of the fifties which leaves me smiling just listening to it and the sheer joy of spinning with a circle skirt! Then again, I’ll watch Downton Abbey and swoon at the gorgeous cloche hats….

Being able to sew opens up a whole heap of possibilities, there are many wonderful retro stores available now, but I find its the detailing that really hits the note for me. So after that rather lengthy introduction here are some elements that might help you to ‘revamp’ a modern dress and introduce elements that can give you a more authentic look.

 

Single breasted, four gore skirt
Single breasted, four gore skirt

As you can see from this pattern the jackets were single breasted, skirts were made up of several pieces, often with seams at the front sides and back, this cut allowed the maker to cut more economically, as the pieces would be smaller.

 

 

A big feature of forties fashion was a yoke

A big feature that stands out in most of the forties fashion was the shoulder yoke, it reflected the male shirt, but was softened by details like bows and cuffs. Dresses had shorter sleeves (also an economy of fabric) finishing just above the elbow.

Use of drape
Use of drape

Forties fashion diverges – American Patterns was cut off from the influence of Paris, did not have the same restrictions as in Britain so you can often see more generous cuts and elements of the 30’s bias cut in US patterns at the time.

If you want to make your dress have an authentic forties feel, look to the sleeve cap, often this was full giving the sleeve a boxy look (a good balancer if you are pear shaped). You can see it more in the knitwear designs from that period.

What ever you decide, the important thing to remember is to have fun

ttfn xx