Friday, 26 June 2015

Final Project (Warning - It's Bright)

So what I'm about to show and tell is my 'Final Major' Project from my foundation degree. This won't be my final college project though because like a sucker I've signed up to do one more year to get a full BA.

For this project we had total free reign and could pick what ever concept we wanted. I chose to look at female artists with a surrealist bent and Dia de Los Muertos stuff. The practical element was to make an 'outfit' so I ended up making a skirt and top (as usual it was STRESSFUL)

So the image I ended up concentrating on was The Spotted Ousel by Grace Pailthorpe

I'm not entirely sure why I gravitated towards this image, I am quite simple so it was probably just 'oooooh colours' or something like that. I also like the expressions on the creatures faces. Purple Spotty looks like he has an immense hangover and Red looks absolutely horrified at this. An Ousel is an old English word for Blackbird by the way (the more you know!)

Because this was my final project I wanted to demonstrate some interesting drafting skills (my downfall, as always) I turned to the Pattern Magic Books - Kakurenbo

This is a research page from my sketchbook, demonstrating how I got from my inspiration image, through digital draping to pattern cutting method and design. I made a minuscule sample to test out the idea prove to myself i could sew it. 

Initial designs with length variations

I put the grey top on the illustrations so they wasn't naked but I really liked the boxy shape combined with the full skirt and used the shape for some top/jacket designs.

As always with me, nothing goes smoothly. I had developed several fabric designs to use and ordered some fabric from Woven Monkey thinking I would have plenty of time for them to arrive (last time I ordered it took less than a week) it took the full 10 days for my fabric to arrive and then when it did turn up I was pretty disappointed as one of my fabrics had black areas which came out as a murky brown/grey. I ended up having to fabric paint those areas in (I thought I had a photo of this but I can't seem to find it) 

Because my specially printed fabric took so long to turn up I ended up panic buying the rest of the fabric that I needed and I made some really questionable choices. I also rushed through the sewing as I was panicking that I would run out of time so I am not particularly happy with the final outcome

Anyway, here are my garments as modelled by a stumpy mannequin

see all those black diamonds on the top? that's what I had to paint

those wavy raglan seams were a bitch to sew

 And here are my final boards (the outfit looks much better modelled on my illustration)

So whilst I wasn't happy with my interpretation of my designs (I'm blaming my choice of fabrics - both type and print) I feel like my sketchbook work in this project was really cohesive and I got a good grade for it, so I can't really argue. 

I am now looking forward to doing some selfish sewing over the summer :)


Friday, 3 April 2015

Big Pink Pig

So I'm trying to downsize my yarn stash as I am brilliant at buying yarn but not so speedy about knitting it up. At some point last year, for reasons unknown I impulse purchased a cone of baby pink Aran Weight yarn from Kingcraig Fabrics it's nice yarn but I don't really wear baby pink that much (which is why I have no idea why I got it in the first place, it was probably 'a bargain' and I have a hard time resisting bargains)

 I decided to make a Purl Soho Big Pink Pig to use some of it up also I conveniently have a friend who loves pigs with a birthday coming up :)

I think he is pretty cute but Beau thinks he looks like a zombie pig due to the crossed eyes (can you imagine how weird he would look with the buttons sewn in = configuration instead of x ' s)

The pattern was nice and easy and this guy knit up really quickly, I might make him a brother that I can keep for myself :)

Saturday, 7 March 2015

The Trouser Skirt Trouser Thing

My personal sewing mojo is still AWOL, I can't use that excuse not to hand in a college project though so here is another college project that I forced myself to sew.

For this project I had to choose an Iconic Garment -  research it a bit and then make a 'wearable piece of art' based on it. I chose the very vague 'Wide Legged Trousers' possibly because I had just watched 'The African Queen' and I had Katherine Hepburn on my mind.

Now you will be pleased to hear that I did learn from my coat making debacle and made life easy for myself, may I present the Two Waisted Trousers/Double Ended Trousers/Trouser Skirt Trouser Thing..

This is my final illustration and tech drawing for the design, please excuse the wonky stitching lines on the tech drawing, I was running out of time on deadline day and something had to give (I've also just realised I forgot to take out a seam line on the back waistband DOH!)

My initial idea for these was to just turn a pair of trousers upside down, undo the inseams and sew them into a crotch curve. I drafted a mannequin sized pants block (see, nice easy drafting!) but when it came to cutting there wasn't enough fabric in the pant cuffs to incorporate the crotch curve and make it around the waist. I added a couple of side panels and then pleated the excess volume that these created at the waist. I think that the extra fabric also added to the 'wearable artiness' of the garment.

My mannequin sized classmate kindly modeled the finished item for me. I have decapitated her in Photoshop to preserve her privacy.

Classmates Head is not the only thing to have been 'shopped you will notice. The day we went out to take pics was gloriously sunny in the morning then as soon as we got to location it started snowing and hail stoning (seriously fucking snow, in March!)  I had planned a more elaborate photo shoot but we decided to get it over and done with and quickly snapped some pics in about 5-10 minutes. As I could barely see through the viewfinder I stuck with the same camera settings for every photo and as a result a lot of them came out underexposed.

For our next project we have to make an outfit's worth of garments and we can set the brief ourselves, no idea what I want to look at yet but I feel it should be eye-searingly unicorn-barfingly bright.

What I learnt during this project - Do not be lazy and harvest a fly assembly from a pair of trousers to insert into another pair of trousers. By the time you have finished arsing around trying to make it look tidy (and failing) you could have cut and sewn a nice new not fraying fly.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

The Stress Coat

Poor neglected blog, one day I will have time to sew selfishly and gallivant around the countryside taking pictures of my sewing.

Not today though, today I show you shitty pictures of sewing which is unwearable and made me want to cry. Yup another college project.

Because I am an insufferable idiot I decided to push the boat out with my drafting, I couldn't just be sensible and make a little dress like everyone else instead I decide to make a quilted, pleated coat of doom.

This is a picture of me messing around with some stand work, deciding where I want my pleated panelling and whatnot

After dicking around and drawing on my fabric a lot I decided I wanted to quilt the skirt of the dress. In my wisdom I decided that this meant the bodice lining should be quilted (so the wearer would be 'evenly warm'  - I can think of no other way to describe it, it made sense to me at the time)

I was actually pretty good and started my drafting early on this project (with delusions of digitising it!), then I started to worry and toiled half a bodice and realised I would never be able to get a finish i was happy with as drafted so I want back to the drawing board, changed the block I was working with and tweaked a few design lines to make the sewing more manageable (HA!) I finished the re-draft on the Sunday (my hand in date being the Wednesday)

Drafting WTFuckery, I made my life slightly easier by photocopying my blocks instead of tracing them

So Monday morning finally saw me sewing. I decided to do the 'easy' bits first so I started with quilting the lining, the slippery cheap acetate lining. Oh yeah without a walking foot. I 'measured' the distance between quilting lines with a bit of tape (I say a bit, I think I got through most of a roll by the time I was done)

quilting acetate = sewing hell

 So about three hours later I'm finished with this shit and I move onto my pleated sections. Working on cheap ass calico feels like a dream, it holds a crease and doesn't shift around under the machine.

 The rest of the day becomes a bit of a blur after this. I take a time out to go and pick Beau up from work, he gives me a very funny look in the car as I look like a wreck wearing sweat pants and I am covered in various colours of thread as well as having the expression of someone teetering on the edge of insanity. We go home and I waste more sewing time by having to stop and eat. After this I carry on assembling until I get to putting the back bodice together. The back of this monstrosity is like a fucking jigsaw. I spend I don't know how long re arranging all the pieces trying to remember how they all fit together, for this project we weren't required to have a master pattern and I didn't think to take a picture of the back before cutting out all my pattern pieces. By this point I could cry, happily I remember Finally how everything fits and get it sewn together before I forget again. At this point in the day I am told in no uncertain terms to stop sewing.

I know myself pretty well and on the Tuesday I was very happy that I had had the foresight to book the day off work. I started the day by marking the quilting lines on my skirt piece. No mean feat as the skirt has no side seams.  It takes me about 4 attempts to get this right and takes an age. I am frustrated and tired.

At this point I think 'fuck it' and give up on my plan of quilting the lining along with the outer fabric as I have no time to baste. I quilt the outer and then join the lining at the hem (hack job!!) The bodice is sewn to the skirt and the seam is bound and I bind the bottom of the bodice lining so no raw edges are showing.

I have no idea what this is a photo of!

I originally planned to put in hook and eye tape to the bodice centre front as a fastening. I decide I can live without this and call it a day on the sewing.

Sadly this was not the end of my frustrations with this project. Complicated patterns mean complicated tech drawings and I had not practised on Illustrator over the summer (I was also doing this project on my old laptop, I have a new computer now and Illustrator seems much easier to use on it)

Shitty tech drawing (I told you the back was complicated!)

Finally the one picture I took of the finished object ( I couldn't bear to look at it anymore, or iron it for that matter)

Anyway - note to self - do not be a dick and try and show off.

Monday, 22 September 2014

Tights to Socks Re-fashion

So I'm about to prove the stereotype of Yorkshire Folk being tight correct...

I'm so cheap I couldn't face throwing away a pair of holey tights and made them into socks. In my defence these were really nice soft cosy tights from M&S with merino in them, I'm not making myself look any less of a cheapskate am I? ohh well I hope you enjoy my little tutorial (also I'm totally counting this as a FESA tender tootsies project)

Sunday, 31 August 2014

One Fish Two Fish..

... and all of them blue fish.

I have finally got some finished garment photos YAY! so here is my fish dress. I hope you will agree that this fabric was worth breaking my self imposed fabric buying ban for.

I'm such a sucker for a ridiculous print, the looks I got when I brought this home and triumphantly exclaimed that it was going to be a dress were dubious to say the least. This fabric is lovely though, I always forget how nice it is to sew with cotton.

 The pattern is Seamster Patterns Dandelion Dress this is the second time I've made this pattern, the first will remain unblogged because it looks a bit like a nurses uniform. I needed to make a fair few adjustments to this pattern to make it fit me, but I have to do that to pretty much every pattern anyway. My brain could not comprehend how to do an FBA on this bodice so I decided to make the size corresponding with my full bust (I usually go by the upper bust measurement) and then alter from there.

List of adjustments -

Deepen bust dart
Curve bust dart
Hike up bust dart by removing fabric on the top sleeve seam
Re-orientate top sleeve seam to compensate for forward sloping shoulders
Pinch out excess fabric under the bust
Shorten upper back and upper back sleeve
Sway back adjustment
Add 4cm in length

Now I know that sounds like a lot, but I honestly have to make a tonne of changes to every pattern I make, add to that that this is a raglan sleeve and I am very fussy about getting raglans to fit properly. I found the pattern to be really well drafted, everything matched up superbly even after I had hacked up the pattern with fitting adjustments. I'm looking forward to making a few more of these in some heavier fabrics for winter. I will probably tweak the fit a little more around the waist and add a zipper (this version is loose enough not to need one)

 I have no pics of the inside but all the seams are overlocked together and the neckline and sleeves are finished with bias tape - I actually had a packet of vintage bias tape in the correct shade of blue - I'm never normally that lucky!

I have a teensy scrap of this fabric left which has been squirrelled away into the fabric hoard for next years summer sewing.

Thanks for reading :)


P.S. Is anyone on Instagram? I finally got on there and have been basking in the glory of millions of fluffy cat pictures. I'm rachel.loulou on there and I would love to find some sewing pals to follow.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Unselfish Sewing: Kids Edition

A post which contains some actual sewn items - who woulda thunk it! My mother cornered me for my annual unselfish sewing stint a couple of weeks ago, so last weekend was spent making summery PJ's for my little sister. I made a pattern based on a couple of pairs of her existing jamas and sized up a bit. I made a knit pair and a woven pair and they were super easy to make. I may have a go at digitising and grading this pattern as it is very simple shapes.

The fabric was from the local Boyes, a cheap stable knit of dubious quality and a cotton batik which was really lovely to sew with ( I purchased a couple of lengths of batik in over patterns for myself, one of which was made up into a dress before I started on the PJ's)

Beware crappy photos ahead - Taken on my phone on the day we got all the after-storms from Hurricane Bertha, not modelled because I'm not putting pics of my baby sister on the Internet.

The Knit Version


The Woven Version

massively chuffed with my top stitching here.

Ive had the weekend off work and had some big plans for sewing up some Autumn/Winter stuff but I've been really bummed out about Robin Williams' death. All I've managed to do is a bit of knitting and watching loads of crap TV interspersed with trying to hunt down a copy of The Birdcage on DVD for under £20.