Tag Archives | dressmaking

Great British Sewing Bee and some upcycling fun!

I hinted in earlier posts that I’d been doing more dressmaking and upcycling than quilting and dyeing recently, so I thought I’d tell you what I have been up to.

I bought a secondhand Harris Tweed men’s jacket on Ebay very cheaply and altered it. 

harris tweed jacket 

I can’t find any ‘before’ photos but this is it when I had just started and was auditioning that orange silk fabric with it.   First of all I unpicked the lining from the main jacket from about halfway up the front and along most of the bottom edge apart from the back vents where it was too firmly stitched on!   Then I took out the shoulder pads and restitched the top of the shoulders to make them a bit narrower, more rounded and less military-looking.   I then stitched more darts to shape the waistline. 

altered harris tweed jacket  

Here it is just pinned.  I had to be a bit careful not to pull the pocket flap out of shape.  I also made the bottom of the armhole a bit smaller and stitched more tucks in the upper back to take out some nasty puckers that had developed.  Once I was happy with the fit, I restitched the lining and then added a few embellishments.

detail of pocket trim   

This is some of my printed fabric which I stitched on to the top pocket.  I also stitched some narrow burgundy ribbon along the piped top of the bottom pockets and replaced all the buttons with dusky pink ones to make it clear that this was now a woman’s jacket!  I thought I took a photo at this stage but the only one I can find is the one below.  The buttons on the sleeve are pink too.

upcycled polo neck 

The Great British Sewing Bee started last week and inspired me to do a bit of my own!   This pinky mauve top started life as a Landsend polo neck top and after a while I decided I didn’t like to wear polo necks anymore but I still liked the top and didn’t just want to chuck it.  So I took the neckline off and stitched that burgundy satin bias binding around the raw edges.  I also wanted it longer so I thought I’d put a flounce on the bottom.  I wasn’t sure about mixing stretchy knitted fabric and woven cotton, but I thought my hand printed fabric which I made with the wisteria screen shown at the bottom of this page of my blog matched the colour well so decided to give it a go.  I found a webpage on How to make a pixie skirt and it was incredibly easy – this piece is just a square piece of fabric with a circular hole cut in the middle.   A couple of lines of topstitching with a triple straight stitch finished it off and I’m wearing it as I type!

top with jacket 

Here it is with the finished jacket.

  another view of top

Not sure whether to sew this flower on or not…

What I’ve been reading online

I started this post a while ago but yesterday the news came that Google is killing Google Reader in July.   If you read this blog via Google Reader, there are a number of articles about the alternatives … here are a couple of them:

‘Hey Google, we still love Reader’ from Mashable and

Google Reader is getting shut down; here are the best alternatives, from Lifehacker.

If you would prefer to read it via email, you can sign up on the sidebar and Mailchimp will send you one whenever I publish a new post >>>>>

And of course within a few hours of the news breaking, someone had come up with a ‘Hitler hears the news about Google Reader’ on Youtube!

Recently instead of bookmarking all my favourite sites I’ve been using Evernote to keep them synched across my laptop, tablet and phone.  Evernote is like an online pile of notebooks with a really powerful search facility … It has a great series on its blog called Tips and Stories where people describe how they use Evernote for their particular line of business, hobby or whatever so rather than go on about it here I’ll just direct you there.

So what have I been reading online recently?

… about trends in fashion, vintage, fabric…. The Stylesight blog is a colourful and interesting read.

… about the fashion industry and the horrific tragedies caused … Onsies in a rush?

MsWanda’s blog – a great blog about sustainable fashion.

 The Good Wardrobe – The Good Wardrobe describes itself as “your online style-sharing community hub mixing the best of sustainable fashion with services that prolong the life of your wardrobe. The antithesis of fast fashion, The Good Wardrobe loves long-life style.”

Trash to Couture suggests ways to make old clothes into upcycled new ones…

The story of Harris Tweed – one page of a blog called V is for Vintage

Why shopping will never be the same – an article about tecchy innovations in the shopping experience

 The curated wardrobe – an article about paring down your wardrobe to the bare essentials… Maybe I need to apply the principles to my art supplies!

instant fashion software! – a fun webpage where you can draw fashion on a figure and it will turn it instantaneously into a 3d model!

 

What have you been reading lately?

A couple of book reviews

Just before Christmas, Bloomsbury Publishing asked me if I would like to review a couple of their books.  As soon as I saw the titles, I jumped at the chance.

What the publishers say:

 The Vintage Pattern Selector by Jo Barnfield is a practical sewing book that arms the reader with all the techniques and information they need in order to mix and match clothing styles from the 20th century.

Accompanied by a CD with printable patterns for a range of dress sizes, this book is a comprehensive guide to creating contemporary outfits from vintage styles.

  book review    

The book is clearly and attractively set out with lots of pictures and diagrams.  It contains full instructions for printing the patterns, assembling them and making the dresses, with a section at the back covering the basic techniques of dressmaking.  

 book review  

It starts with a timeline of the main styles and trends for each decade between the 1920s and 1970s then goes into more detail about each decade.

 book review

I liked the way it shows the way modern fashions draw on vintage styles, giving examples from different shops.  It also suggests ways to combine particular details of different eras so they work together.

book review

I haven’t yet tried making up any of the patterns but I can envisage playing with a few of them, notably the 1920s flapper dress (pity I no longer have the shape for it!!).

The second book is quite different in style to the first.  The publisher’s introduction to The Story of Colour in Textiles by Susan Kay-Williams -

Colour and shade of dyed textiles were once as much an indicator of social class or position as the fabric itself, and for centuries the recipes used by dyers were closely guarded secrets.

The arrival of synthetic dyestuffs in the middle of the nineteenth century opened up a whole rainbow of options and within 50 years modern dyes had completely overturned the dyeing industry.

From pre-history to the current day, the story of dyed textiles in Western Europe brings together the worlds of politics, money, the church, law, taxation, international trade and exploration, fashion, serendipity and science.

The Story of Colour in Textiles is an introduction to a broad, diverse and fascinating subject of how and why people coloured textiles.

book review

Being a historian as well as a dyer, I loved reading this book.  Again, it is attractively set out with lots of gorgeous pictures, but much more factual information too.  I enjoyed reading Victoria Finlay’s book on the story of colour generally, but this book focuses specifically on colouring textiles in Europe.  It mentions other parts of the world but mostly only as they affected European dyeing.  The book starts with an introduction to the various types of fabrics that were being dyed, mostly natural ones such as wool, linen, silk and cotton.

 book review

Unlike Victoria Finlay’s book which goes through each colour in turn, the author of this book works her way through history with chapters on prehistory, the Dark Ages, the Middle Ages, then each century from the 15th to the present day. It was useful to read about them in their historical context, and she draws on contemporary paintings which illustrate various dyeing processes, such as Jan van Eyck’s painting of the Arnolfinis, and the Bleaching fields of Haarlem by Jan van Kessel the Elder.

book review

It is a good book to dip into or use as a reference, but also has a very readable style.  It was interesting to read about the secrecy around new discoveries and subterfuge used to obtain valuable information.  Did you know that a whole mile of coastline around Tyre and Sidon consists of ground up mollusc shells, waste from extracting purple from the shellfish?    Colour as a sign of wealth, power and intrigue….

 book review 

She also covers the use of mordants, the introduction of patents and the development of chemical dyes as well as bleaching and the removal of colour to make white. 

 book review

The book has an extensive list of footnotes at the end of each chapter and a large bibliography for further reading.  Definitely worth buying if you are interested in the development of dyeing and use of colour through the ages.

book review

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