Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Drafting the Purple Mushroom Dress

I suppose other people come up with better names than 'The Purple Mushroom Dress', but this dress was inspired by purple mushrooms, and so that will be it's name forevermore. 

Today I'm writing about this dress:


Specifically, how I went about drafting it.

I started with a t-shirt, and a basic straight skirt pattern. The skirt is not a knit block, but it doesn't matter as I'm using a jersey fabric. Front is on the left, Back is on the right. 

I didn't use a t-shirt with a bust dart, which in hindsight would have been better. Oh well.

The sleeve remains the same throughout.

I split the t-shirt at the waistline.
And added a new seam allowance. I put a slight curve on the front.
Looking just at the back skirt block, I am ignoring the seam allowances at this point.
The darts will be eliminated, and replaced with tucks.
I want to create 6 tucks on the front, and 6 on the back. That means 3 per half.
Each tuck is 1.5cm deep, (5/8") so I need 3cm (1 1/4") to create the fold.

3 x 3 = 9cm of tuckable fabric is required.  I measure the darts, which were each 2cm deep, and then added 5cm at the centre line to make a total of 9cm. I haven't converted this into metric because the measurements are slightly skewed by the conversion. But the concept is the same.

2 + 2 + 5 = 9cm, total required for tucks. 
Metric is easier folks.

I don't want to increase at the hemline, as I want the skirt to draw back in.
I have omitted the vent from the block pattern because I am making this in a jersey and it will stretch. If I was making this skirt in a woven I would need to allow more space to enable movement.

There is a 5cm (2") extension on the centre line,
So I reduce the outer edge by 5cm (2").
And smooth it out.

I then need to create the tucks. From the centre fold, I create 2 lines 1.5cm apart, and then leave a 4cm gap, then 3 lines 1.5cm apart, 4cm gap, 3 lines 1.5cm apart. Thusly:
The spacing is up to you, as long as the tucks = the amount of fabric you've allowed yourself. 

The process on the front is exactly the same.

I then drew in a pocket line on the front.
Which is then split into it's 3 component parts - front of skirt, pocket facing and main pocket which also shows at the front.
Hems and seam allowances on all those pieces, and the pattern is done.

I finished the neckline with a binding, which I cut as a strip from scraps.

So there you have it. One dress, for jersey fabric, inspired by purple mushrooms. 

Friday, 27 March 2015

2015 Design / Inspiration Challenge - April

April's Challenge is to reimagine an item. Upcycle a second hand piece, or pull out a failed project and revive it in a new form.

This is kind of the month I've been looking forward to the most, because I love a good upcycle.
To start with, here are a few I've done before.

Before (you'd certainly hope so!)

And after (link here)

Frumpy dress:
 Much better here.

I stole the lining out of Jon's hoodie:

 Made it into a bear. Oh yeah.
Don't worry - I restyled the hoodie too.

For further inspiration - check out the Refashionista

So go out. Get yourself something for April fools. And use your seamster superpowers to make it awesome!

Due Date Tuesday 28th April, I will post the reveal on Wednesday 29th.

PS. May's challenge is to create 3 - 4 mix and match pieces that work together. April should be a quick (re)make, so you can start planning May a little early!

Thursday, 26 March 2015

March Challenge - The Reveal!

It's time for the March reveal! 

Mushrooms may not seem to have much bearing on sewing, but since the March challenge was to make something inspired by an unrelated object, they are completely suitable in context. Based on the colour and the shape of the mushrooms above, (and others on my pinterest board here,) I created a dress with a tucked skirt, in a lovely flowing wool jersey. I wanted to emulate the gills on the underside of the mushroom in the skirt.
It was also inspired by another object - although this was related. I wanted something I could wear with this amazing and unusually coloured scarf Jon gave me for Christmas a couple of years ago.
I didn't quite get finished, and the hem is only basted into place, but I'm rather pleased with the result.

In terms of meaningful interpretation though, Jennifer's comments around her idea seem much more thoughtful than mine. Here is her comment in full.

'I found this month to be extra challenging...I have difficulty translating inspiration. When I see something I like I say 'ohh I can make that', but the concept was already born and I copy. I don't seem to have the ability to see things as something it isn't. I liked all the examples and then caught my self thinking..'a lamp shade dress, hmm I can do that', but that again is just a copy. Anyway, while surfing Pinterest late one night with burning eyes I saw a dress that looked like something else. I did not make it, but did complete my first garment sketch. It is a simple halter dress. The tribute or support ribbons (pic 1) have played a huge roll in my life the last 8 months and when I saw this halter dress to me it looked like the ribbon. So in memory of my dad and support for the cure of the rare disease that took him this is my support ribbon halter dress (pic 2)' 

Which just goes to show, that just because something is inspired by something else, doesn't mean it needs to be crazy or unwearable. It can just be meaningful.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

The Drapey Top from the Great British Sewing Bee

It's been so long since I've posted!

I've been crazy busy of late, general life stuff, and my sewing time has been used up with minor repairs, not very exciting alterations (think trouser hems) and maintenance (yawn).

But I watched The Great British Sewing Bee was this week, there was a draped top that I rather fancied making, and so today has been all about that. Here it is.

The pattern on the fabric runs vertically rather than horizontally, which is a bit unusual. On the show they used fine drapey woven fabrics, but I went for a jersey.

The pattern for the top is a single piece. The fold runs down one the long side here. Let me try and stay glamorous and illustrate that point...

Ok maybe not. 

Now the Sewing Bee doesn't tell you where there patterns are from - this one was simply referred to as a Japanese pattern. A bit of research leads me to believe it is available in 'Drape Drape 2'. But I don't have it, so I drafted the pattern myself.

Here's how it works.

I started with a basic t-shirt pattern (don't I always) with no darts, and cut the front out as a full piece rather than a half piece.

I created a dolman sleeve by extending out the same width as the sleeve. I think In my next version I will make this sleeve a bit more generous, but it worked. This is then split and rotated to the right side.

So in the illustration below, the red shape is the original pattern, green is with dolman sleeves, then split and rotated out, forming the curve on the right.

The line on the left side is the centre fold.  Rotating the whole piece so that the centre fold moves to a vertical position, I made a mirror image of this, with a back neckline instead of a front neckline.
Which ultimately leaves a pattern piece like this.

The neckline distorts as it drapes, so to overcome that problem I basted the sides, redrew the neckline as it hung on my body, and adjusted it before adding binding. The piece is sewn up the sides, and along the shoulder, leaving a gap at the top (viewed this orientation) which forms the sleeve opening. I didn't take photos as I went, but I'll try and take some if I make it a second time.

I had to make the sleeve a little shorter in order to make it fit on the fabric - It's quite a wide piece.

So there you go, a bit of insight into a seemingly tricky pattern. 

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

5 Things I Learned from Volunteering in A Charity Shop

Recently I've been volunteering in a Charity shop. Charity shops, Thrift  Shops or Op shops - whatever you call them, theres a lot of discussion around such shops online. There are advantages to such shops (price, variety, making greater use of products instead of throwing them into landfill), and there are also lesser discussed disadvantages (such as the impact on smaller local businesses, and the question of the stuff which doesn't make the cut). All up, though, they still seem like a rather good idea to me.

In any case, for someone like myself with an interest in clothing and textiles, it's a bit of a playground. There are a wide variety of styles and things to examine and learn about, including stuff I would never otherwise see. I got to test my fabrics knowledge and I may have made a few sketches for later designs.

As an aside, volunteering is fun, in general. You meet some pretty quirky people out there, and I like quirky people. In addition to the meeting the people and sketching the sketches, here are 5 things I learned while working in a Charity store.

1. People buy loads of stuff they never wear. 
For whatever reason, a surprising (even alarming) amount of stuff arrives with tags still on it. Mistake / regret purchases are a huge part of the stuff sold. It's a win for the charity shop, but a reflection of a fairly wasteful culture. I'm not going to lie, I'm pretty sure I've donated never or hardly ever worn stuff myself on occasion, but I didn't grasp how normal that is. If the idea of wearing someone elses 'old clothes' bothers you, it shouldn't hold you back from shopping second hand. 

2. Quality stands out.
If you know anything about fibres and clothing construction, it's really obvious which garments are well made. Quality natural fibres are obvious too. They look good even when they're second hand. Silk or pure wool stands out a mile. If the idea of investment buys is lost on you, grab the best looking garment off a rail and find out what it's made from. You'll see. 

3. People value brand names over wear and tear.
I don't really understand this, but a 'good brand' item with a bit of wear and tear will be priced higher than an item in good condition which isn't branded. My theory is that this is a reflection of the fact that people increasingly use brand names as a synonym for quality. Some brands produce stuff that is of a better quality, for sure. And it can be a good starting point. But there's a lot of inbetweeny brands where I don't think it's a terribly relevant factor, and it's more relevant to look at the individual piece. Even so, that's how it plays out. 

4. Loads of your donations don't make it to the shop front.
If you're a bit unsure about whether something is 'good enough' to keep, if it's looking a bit frayed or worn, it probably won't make it out there. The sorting at the back is pretty stringent. A bit of wear around the edge of a pair of jeans, or a small stain can be enough to rule something out. You may feel better about putting something in a charity bag instead of the bin, but chances are it will just go to the bin. You might as well just chuck it out in the first place, or reuse it for cleaning rags at home. Donating an overly worn out item is just a way of easing our consciences, and lots of places then have to pay to throw it out.

5. There are a lot of weird things out there that probably shouldn't exist.
Plenty of 'WTF' items arrive in thrift stores. Like the chain for your napkin so you can hang it properly around your neck (You know, like the dentist has, but for the dinner table), and the giant (slightly scary) my little pony soft toys. There's a lot of stuff I just don't understand. And weirdly enough, people buy that stuff. Because there's all kinds of weird out there.

And quirky.