Thursday, 3 April 2014

Something old, something new....

There isn't a perfect solution of what to do with your wedding dress once the big day has been and gone. After so much planning, searching, fitting, tweaking and stress you're left with a beautiful dress that, unfortunately, you're unlikely to wear again.

Being kept as a keepsake, occasionally to be pulled out to reminisce over is the fate of many dresses. I frequently encourage my own clients to consider shortening the dress and dying it to turn it into a beauteous party dress. This gives them the chance to wear it again without feeling over dressed. If you prefer, there is always the "trash the dress" photo shoot which, whilst it might not be for everyone, looks like a crap load of fun and you've got to love the look of a wedding dress underwater.

But by far the appealing idea for most brides is that the dress should become a family heirloom. You can pass your dress onto a daughter for their wedding when the time comes, or, as was the case for a recent client, you can turn the dress into a christening gown.

We started from this...

There was plenty of fabric and under netting to work with as well as the button detailing down the back.

And I made her this....

 I was able to use the fabric and lining of the wedding gown to make the dress, while reusing some of the net edging as trim on the bottom of the dress. I used the buttons from the back of the gown to run a line down the back of the baby's dress to keep a little reminder there of what the christening dress had once been.

So if you're unsure what to do with your dress at the end of the big day, consider turning something old into something new.

The Chosen Wedding Fair is just around the corner

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Working with Vintage Patterns

For anyone watching The Great British Sewing Bee tonight, you'll have seen them working on vintage patterns and it is something I'm asked about a when I'm teaching at The Thrifty Stitcher.

Vintage style has made a huge impact on current trends and more and more people are looking at original patterns for inspiration or simply a copy of 1940's and 50's style. And I'm no exception...

Finding vintage patterns isn't difficult but working with them can be. Body shapes and sizes have changed in the last 70 years so you can't simply pick up a size 12 vintage pattern and assume it will be the same as a modern pattern. More importantly vintage patterns only come in one size, unlike modern patterns which will have several sizes included in one pattern sheet, a vintage pattern must be bought at the correct size (or more likely the closest size you can get to your own size.)

So here's a quick run down of working with vintage patterns.....

The pattern I used came from The Vintage Pattern Shop, circa 1946. I haven't had a pattern from them before but i turned out to be brilliantly helpful. I'd highly recommend them for anyone looking to make their first plunge into vintage patterns. The pattern was a reproduction but came with a fantastic booklet of how to use the pattern, ideas of how to alter it and some helpful note pages to help compare the original measurements of the pattern to your own measurements. 

I went from this...
To this....

I'd always recommend, tracing off the pattern and altering the copy instead and chopping into the vintage pattern you've bought. You never know if you'll need to refer back to the original and if, unlike this case where it was a reproduction, it would be a shame to chop up an original pattern.

Copy over an markings on the original pattern. Then compare your own measurements to those of the pattern, work out where you need to add or remove ecess. Make sure you are very methodical it this point. Look at bust, waist, hip and nape to waist but you may also have to alter area's like the arm hole depth and the sleeve head, or the length and position of the darts.  The process of turning one pattern size into another is called grading, the more sizes your altering it by, the more areas you'll need to add into or take away from.

I chose this pattern because I loved the design of it, but it was an original size 11,  I'm a comfortable modern 18..... I had a lot of work to do. I slashed the pattern open down the length of the front and back to open up the bust, waist and hips, adding in the extra evenly around the full pattern.

I also slashed it across at the chest and back to lengthen the armhole. this also meant the sleeve needed opening up by the same amount.

Once I had the pattern to a better size I put together a quick mock up to fit to myself...

Sorry, no picture of my purple haired oddness this time, but this is the mock-up I ended up with. As well as fitting it, at this stage I was able to make any alterations to the design I wanted, moving the neckline for instance. Once all the alts were pinned or marked in place I transfered the alterations to the pattern.

On a side track for a second, I totally love the sleeves. A short sleeve that's doubled over so it lines the sleeve and finishes the edge all in one easy step. Very elegant solution.

I find it beneficial again trace off the pattern and alter the cop. This way you have a definitive version of your pattern that doesn't have additional lines, markings or cuts that may become confusing later.

So after 3 patterns and a fitting, you'll have this....

Very satisfying. Now the hardest part... finding the perfect fabric to make the finished shirt out of...

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Upcoming Fairs

Hello and thank you to everyone who came along on Sunday to see me at the Dickens Inn. It was a great day.... once the nerves had finally eased off.

But this is just the beginning, I'm also going to be in person at a couple more shows in April. If you missed me on Sunday come see me in April.

Saturday 26th April at the United Reform Church, Wanstead

Sunday 27th April at the Islington Assembly Hall