Monday 27 March 2017

There's layers to this shit player, Tiramisu, Tiramisu

(Sorry. I haven't even heard that song all the way through, but it gets lodged in my head every time I've worn or looked at one of my Tiramisu dresses in the past year or so.)

I haven't made a Tiramisu dress since early last year, and given how often I wear my spotty one I'm not quite sure why. I think it might have something to do with finding out more about the company after I made my second version; the way that indie companies operate and market themselves means that I'm much more reluctant to make a pattern when the company and/or its figurehead is behaving unprofessionally, even if I already own and like the pattern. (See: why I have never made a second Moneta.) But I had some fabric that gave me an idea, so I broke it out again.

I got this fabric at Walthamstow Market for a whopping £1.10 per metre. There were two of these huge panel prints in every metre, and also a lot of plain navy space, so I wanted to make a dress with pattern on the skirt and nowhere else. I got two metres, cut it out on the single layer and had two of the panel prints left over. It's amazing how much fabric you start saving when you ignore the cutting layouts.

This fits more like my first Tiramisu than my second, which is a shame because I much prefer the fit of the second one. As I was writing my notes for this post I remembered that I went down a size for the second one, but I must have not altered the pattern to match. It won't stop me wearing this one, but it will motivate me to alter my pattern now.

I did change a few things on this one. I eliminated the centre front and centre back seams so I didn't have to cut the print in half, I used the neck and arm bindings as facings instead because I'm really not hugely keen on the look of the bands, and I stitched both the bands and the hem down by hand. That's not something I would normally do with a jersey dress, but I spent most of last week back with my parents preparing for my grandmother's funeral and I wanted to have something practical and uncomplicated to keep me busy in between flower logistics and eulogy writing and all the usual funeral things. Having been somewhat stressed by all this, the stitching is probably not my best work, but from where I'm sitting it falls squarely into the category of "Fuck it, that'll do" and I have absolutely no interest in redoing it. Unless it falls apart, which I suppose isn't out of the question.

There will probably be more Tiramisus, though I don't have any particular plans for another one. Part of me would like to give it a go in the striped fabric it's designed for, but I'm not bouncing around with enthusiasm to create and wear a stripy Tiramisu of my very own. I did just buy some ridiculous black and white striped jersey where the stripes go all over the place and change thickness and stop randomly and become something else, and I briefly considered using that; putting on a wide-eyed innocent face and saying "I used stripes, just like it said" to see if anyone would come out of the woodwork and explain to me that I'd done it wrong. Ultimately, though, I think it would just hurt my eyes, so I'll use it for something simpler.

I'm hoping to have a really productive week of sewing, but this does depend on the bundle of haberdashery and patterns I ordered actually turning up (I've never had this problem before, and I'm a bit grumpy about it). If it doesn't, I might just wrap myself in all the fabric I've acquired recently and stomp up and down the flat proclaiming myself to be immensely talented and the height of style. It would make for a different sort of blog post, anyway. 

Monday 20 March 2017

A red Turner, and Dress Yourself Happy

I've been struggling a lot lately, as you probably know. It's been hard to get excited about sewing, or wearing the things I make, I haven't wanted to make statements and I've been trying my hardest to be completely unnoticeable. However, I'm also sick of that. I'm currently trying every avenue I come across that might help me get better, and I know that in the past, I've been able to make "I'm too self-conscious to wear this" go away by hitting it backwards. If I'm wearing it, I can't possibly be too self-conscious. I'm doing a Dress Yourself Happy on Instagram for the next month (I don't know if that's even a thing, but it was a pre-existing hashtag so I'm using it for my own ends now) to get me wearing only things I feel good in. And to help that along, I made a red dress.

This is not the red dress from my spring sewing plan. I've had a thought that that fabric might make a good Kielo, but I'd want to toile that first (I've bought toile fabric, so that's happening soon). This is some red marl jersey that turned up in one of my packages from The Textile Centre, as part of an order I'd made at 1am. I have absolutely no memory of ordering it or what I thought I was going to do with it, so it sat there for quite some time while I considered my options. Originally I thought of a layering piece, but it's just slightly the wrong colour and didn't quite go with any of the things I'd want to wear it with. Eventually I went with another Cashmerette Turner because a) I wanted to try out my fitting adjustments on a less annoying fabric than last time, and b) it's a super simple pattern so I wouldn't have to worry about anything other than having a nice red dress. 

This is my third Turner, and the fit is much better on this one. I made a size 12 G/H and lowered the waist by an inch, though I think it could still use a little more. I went for short sleeves even though it's March; I wasn't keen on the thought of long sleeves in this fabric and since I'll probably wear it primarily for dancing, the shorter sleeves will be more versatile anyway. The lining is a scrap of red jersey I had left over from my Coppelia, which I thought would feel nicer next to my skin.

I haven't had a red dress since the very first one I made. I'd got it into my head a while ago that red was too... something, I don't know. Too much, maybe. But as soon as I put this one on I remembered that I actually LOVE the way I look in red. Why don't I have more of it? Note to self: more red clothes. 

As you can see in this photo of me fishtailing about because I couldn't think of another way to pose, the skirt is somewhat see-through. I didn't notice that until I tried the dress on, so to keep it on the right side of decency I partially lined it with a scrap of that terrible jersey I keep complaining about (it's nearly all been used on lining and toiles now, so I'm almost free of it). I don't mind if the outline of my legs is visible, but I'd rather keep my pants to myself, thank you very much.

 (Fishtailing out of shot because I am a professional and totally have awareness of where I pointed the camera. Also my camera definitely isn't wrapped in Sellotape to keep the battery compartment shut.)

This has reminded me that no, I really do know what I like, and I'm starting to feel a tiny bit better about things. I've got solid plans for my next few projects (that I really need to get on with because my boyfriend has started to give my fabric box a look whenever he walks past it) and I kinda sorta feel like I vaguely know what I'm doing again. Amazing what a red dress can do. Let's hope it lasts. 

And finally, from the "It was on the camera, I can't explain it, let's put it on the internet" files: 

I can see into your soul now. I apologise. 

Monday 13 March 2017

wrap top diaries: Papercut Coppelia (with bonus Vogue 8685)

Hi! Everything hurts today. I took a dance class at the weekend with RuPaul's Drag Race alumnus Laganja Estranja, which claimed to be for "all dance abilities" and was NOT. I had to give up halfway through (which I don't think he was very impressed with, but I am an occasional blues and burlesque dancer and I just don't move that fast. Also I will never do another backwards roll in my life if I can help it), and yet my muscles are so stiff today that I can barely move.

(We learnt a "beginner version" of the death drop. I told my boyfriend about it and he tried it out, but he'd already had three gins and just bruised the shit out of his knee.)

ANYWAY. Sewing. 

After my last wrap top post, I was quite keen to get on and make another. I thought it was the kind of basic garment that there would be hundreds of versions of, but that wasn't the case. I couldn't find any still in print from the Big 4, and since my printer is currently misbehaving I couldn't get a PDF. The only currently available printed pattern I could find was the Papercut Coppelia, so I went ahead and bought it.

This is actually my second Coppelia. The first one looked literally exactly the same as this, but after I wore it for a few hours I discovered that the jersey had somehow turned my armpits burgundy. Maybe burgundy armpits are in for spring, but I wasn't a fan, so I chucked it out and made another one in better quality jersey. 

The Coppelia has raglan sleeves, a neckband, super-wide cuffs and a waist band which extends into the ties. Also, and most importantly, it is NOT TOO SHORT. This alone is enough to warrant making more of them, even if raglan sleeves aren't my favourite. It hits my natural waist nicely, so I can wear it over dresses and with skirts. That really shouldn't feel like such a victory, but there we have it. 

On my first version, the neckline gaped like crazy. Papercut's instructions say that you should vary the length of the neckband based on your fabric's stretch, but they don't give any more guidance than that. It seems a little bit odd to be because I've made a lot of things with neckbands and every other pattern has been able to provide a standard size of pattern piece. Sometimes you make a judgement call, sure, but I'm not sure about that being written in the instructions. Small quibble, but I am nothing if not a pedant. 

While we're here, a word or two about this dress. This is Vogue 8685, which I now realise I said I was going to make in my winter plan and then never posted about. I don't feel that I can give a proper review of the pattern at this point because this fabric just did. not. work. It's really soft and comfortable, but it doesn't hold shape at all, so it looks shapeless and oversized even after I took six inches out of the side seam, and the fabric is too sheer over the bust (hence no photos of just the dress). Also it makes a terrible neckband. I can sort of get away with wearing it if I have something layered over and/or under it, but mostly it's just going to be a house dress. I still think the pattern has potential, so at some point I'll try it again with a less floppy jersey.

I'm planning another couple of wrap tops; one in a navy and one in a cream. This colour, as much as I like it, turns out to be quite awkward to pair with most of my clothes. This is probably why people talk about planning their wardrobes around a colour palette, but frankly I just can't be arsed. I'm not going to walk away from fabric I like because it's teal and I have petrol in my seasonal colour concept. Does mean I need more tops, though. What a drag. 

Monday 6 March 2017

leopard print realness

Several weeks after my birthday, I present to you my birthday dress. It ended up getting two outings; I'd intended to wear it for cocktails on the Saturday, but then found ourselves planning a trip to a 1970s bar on the Friday and you can't make a leopard print wrap dress and not wear it to the 1970s bar. Then I wore it the next night as well because I could and nobody was going to stop me.

This is another Simplicity Amazing Fit 1653, with longer sleeves and wider ties, which I definitely did on purpose and not because I zoned out slightly and sewed the pieces together instead of folding them in half. I also managed to make the wrap the correct way round this time, though I've actually found the wrong-side wrap on my first dress makes it much better for dancing in (since I'm primarily a follow and having ties on the left would create a bump in the body-to-body connection). This isn't a dance dress, so no such issues here. 

I bought this fabric in a bid to stop making so much grey stuff. It was in the sale at Dragonfly Fabrics and I thought it would be a fun throwaway thing to make up, but I was surprised at how much I liked the fabric when it arrived. The quality of the print is beautiful and the fabric is lightweight but not too thin and stretchy while still maintaining its shape well. I haven't used Dragonfly before, but I was impressed.

I'm surprised how much I like this. I don't think I've ever owned anything leopard print in my life (or animal print in general, come to that) and this probably isn't a turning point towards a wardrobe full of giraffe, but the fabric is just so beautiful that I have no choice but to be won over.

I'm not yet sure how versatile this dress will be, but not everything I make needs to be suitable for all occasions. Even if it's just a dress for cocktail bars I'll get more than enough wear out of it, and it might be that once I get used to wearing an animal-print dress I'll think less of wearing it on a day-to-day basis. We shall see. Has it broken me out of my black and grey rut? Eh, sort of. My fabric stash currently contains nothing of either colour (except remnants) and my spring plan is all red and blue and silver, but I can't deny that my brain is quietly formulating plans for at least three black things. It's so easy, I can't help it.

(I'm not sure if this marks a return to outdoor photographs. I saw a rain-and-wind-free window and I jumped through it.)

Thursday 2 March 2017

sewing plans: spring 2017

Spring is the most difficult season to plan for because it means literally nothing in this country. The other three are easy enough: for autumn, you make warm stuff; for winter, you make warm stuff, and for summer, you make optimistic sleeveless dresses that get worn under jumpers for the whole three months, except that one week where the temperature goes nuts and all the trees start melting. So rather than make "spring clothes", I'm going to use this season's plan to fill a couple of wardrobe gaps, get started on some things I've been putting off, and making something bonkers just because I want it.

Latrice will lead off:

1. A ridiculous dressing gown.

I've wanted to do this for ages and I've decided that now is the time. I have this 1970s maxi wrap dress pattern and ten metres of silver stretch satin, and together they will create the most amazing OTT robe. Ten metres is a bit more than I need for the dressing gown, so if time permits and I don't have to recut any pieces, I might make a matching nightdress as well. This is going to be one hell of a time suck project, but I am READY for it. 

2. A vaguely appropriate spring dress

The other reason I'm not good at spring is because it apparently means pastels and florals all over the place, and I still look like a sarcastic Goth in those fabrics. However, on the off-chance that we do get a couple of nice days it would be good to have something to wear, so I'm going to make Vogue 8972 out of white jersey with navy polka dots. Vogue 8972 was one of the very first patterns I bought (thinking "Easy Options" meant it would be easy) and I've now got to the point where a) it seems much less difficult than it did in 2015 and b) I know how the pattern can be altered to make it less difficult still. Provided it doesn't end up looking too girly, it should be a really versatile dress.

3. A red dress

I bought some amazing red jersey from Abakhan a couple of months ago. It's so hard to find fabric with colours that good that I've been too afraid to do anything with it. I'm still not sure what it'll be, but I will be using it in the next couple of months. This is the fabric, by the way - if anyone has any suggestions I'm all ears.

4. Another pair of Thurlows

My first pair of Thurlows were great, but they were also really obviously work trousers and I've not been well enough to work very much lately. So I want to make a pair I can wear on a day to day basis, with a bit less flare in the leg. I'm thinking of using a burgundy or aubergine needlecord, which will take them out of work territory but also won't be hard to pair with things I already have. I'm interested to see whether this will work for my wardrobe, since it currently contains one pair of jeans that I wear once every couple of weeks and no other casual trousers at all. If it turns out that I like and wear them, I might try making some patterned ones.

5. A couple of jersey tops that will go with several skirts I already have and are not grey or black

This has been on my mental list for ages, but almost all my tops are still grey or black because I cannot find jersey in the right weight and colour. I've managed to get hold of two pieces (red and light blue) that I think will work, but if I find fabric for any more then I will make more. Running up a jersey top is a couple of hours' work at most, so I'm hoping to have a few by the time June rolls around.

Next up: leopard print dress. Yay!