Friday, March 22, 2013

Important news about Google Reader...

If you follow this blog (or any other blog for that matter!) via Google Reader, I'm sure you are aware of it's retirement as of July 1st.  (If you haven't heard, then you might want to read this article. Or this one). As of July 1st, Google reader will be no more. Which means that, if you're anything like me and have hundreds of blogs in your reader, you'll be looking for an alternative service; AND a way of transferring all of those blog URL's to your new service.

When it comes to this blog, you can keep up to date with posts in a number of ways:

  • Blogger Dashboard - If you blog via Blogger and follow your blogs in your Blogger dashboard; then from what I can gather, there should be no change when Google Reader retires. 
  • Bloglovin - I'm on Bloglovin which seems to be the weapon of choice for many. You can find me here. Just click to follow.
  • Hello Cotton - This is a relatively new one on me. (Is it me or does Hello Cotton sound like a range of panty liners?!) Anyhow, I've just joined up and you can find me here. Again, just click to follow.
  • Facebook - A couple of weeks ago I finally got around to setting up a dedicated facebook page for this blog. Click to like my page and you'll receive blog updates and other snippets direct to your FB newsfeed.

But how about all those other wonderful blogs that you follow? You're not going to want to input each one individually into your new service! Well, I've been doing a bit of digging and came across this well explained tutorial for downloading your reading list from Google Reader, and transferring it to Bloglovin. Phew! That's that one solved then! You're welcome ;)

Monday, March 18, 2013

DIY: Bleach Polka Dot jeans

Ok so following on from my previous post, here's how to polka dot the life out of your jeans! This is my favourite kind of DIY as it utilises stuff that you'll likely already have in your cupboards (yay!) or can pick up for very little at your local shop...

You will need:

  • Cotton buds
  • Thick household bleach
  • Greaseproof paper

To begin, line your jeans inside with greaseproof paper....

Dip your cotton bud in your bleach and start adding your polka dots. (Be careful to dab off any excess before you put your cotton bud anywhere near your jeans, or you end up with fine trails of bleach landing on your jeans) I had a couple of queries on facebook regarding how to get even spacing between the dots. So for those of you that asked...I eyeballed mine BUT there was a degree of method to it. Essentially I worked in rows. Lay down the 1st row of dots in a straight line along the hem. Then moving up about an inch, stagger the 2nd row so the dots are centred above the spaces inbetween the dots in the 1st row. Then move up another inch and place the dots in the 3rd row, directly in line with the dots in the 1st row. Make sense?

Repeat this process for the front and back...

Work as quickly (and carefully!) as you can. This process is quick and your first dots will be bleaching lighter and lighter while you are working on the next side. You can see what I mean in the picture below. I started at the bottom of the right side then by the time I got to the top of the left side, the dots on the right were really bright, whilst the dots on the left were still developing. Keep an eye on the last lot of dots and as soon as they all reach a similar intensity to the rest....

Plunge them into a bath of cold water to halt the "developing" process. Then launder and dry as normal and you're done!

A Word on Colour:
My polka dots ended up pale pink because the original dye used on these jeans would have contained a pinkish pigment. If you bleach dot jeans of another colour, then the resulting polka dots will also be a different colour, depending on the pigments used in the original dye on your jeans.

TIP: Test a spot on the inside waistband with a teeny bit of bleach to gauge the final colour of your polka dots, if you want to be sure about going ahead. If you don't mind a bit of unpredictability, just go ahead and see what happens!

IDEA: Cotton buds work really well for polka dots. But if cutesy polka dots aren't your "thang" then consider using other "stamps" to get larger polka dots or different shapes all together. You can buy stamps from craft stores or experiment with making your own. Cutting shapes out of sponges, felt etc or just look around your home for something semi absorbent that would make an interesting shape/stamp.

I also had a couple of queries about how I resized these jeans down 2 sizes. Let me tell you, I wouldn't normally recommend sizing jeans down by that much. It was only because this started out as an experiment on an old pair of jeans that I'd out grown. But it turned into something that I really wanted to wear. Yes I have sized these down 2 sizes but the inside of the waistband is a bit of a mess if I'm honest. However, clearly it IS possible to do. There are alot of variables when it comes to how easy a pair of jeans are to resize. There are a few different places to apply any resizing.  It also depends on the level of finish that you can live with on the inside. I've been thinking for a while that I could probably explain my techniques for altering jeans a little more clearly than I have in the past. So maybe that's an idea for a future post...

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Refashion: Polka Dot Jeans

Today I finished up a little spring themed refashion. Spring because of the pastel tones and polka dots; and spring themed because I insisted on wearing this in the freezing cold today in a bid to tempt spring from it's hiding hole. Dress for the weather you want, not the weather you have, is my new mantra :) I am SO over this winter malarkey it's not even funny! Anyhow, I took a plain pair of jeans, and polka dotted the life out ot them and took them in two sizes...what d'ya think?

If you follow my facebook page then you'll know right away how I did this ;) Heck, you can probably work it out by looking at the photos.  But for those of you who want a more in depth "how to"; bear with me while I sort through my photos! I have a new camera and am trying to get to grips with that AND a new editing suite. Gah! (I have been cussing ALOT today! Lauren would be proud ;). So my usual step by step will follow shortly. But for now, just wanted to share the after pics, as I'm a wee bit chuffed with this one....


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Inspiration: Orla Keily Autumn 2013

Autumn 2013!!! For heavens sakes we're barely into Spring 2013 (not that you be able to tell by the weather) and already, a post about Autumn 2013?! What can I say, except I'm sorry!! Better to do it now than in the middle of the summer right? At least we can all still appreciate a nice warm coat right now!

There is a very good reason for it though, I promise. My Sewlution for 2013 is to draft a pattern for, and sew myself, a COAT! Aaargh! The prospect scares me slightly. But feel the fear and do it anyway, that's what I say! I've already begun the process of testing out a vintage dress pattern that I want to use as a base. I plan to test the fit and then adapt it (it's coat like in the sense that it's a wrap dress a size to big, which will hopefully allow for outerwear ease), changing details like the neckline, sleeve shape, length, adding pockets and a lining etc and came across this Orla Kiely collection

Anyhow, I've been browsing looking for detail inspiration, and I came across Orla Kiely's collection. How delicious?

All images courtesy of Orla Kiely via Calivintage

I'm leaning more towards the simplicity of the mustard one above left. That neckline would allow for a chunky knit cowl to sit nicely on colder days. But all of these coats are to die for aren't they?! What's more, there are any number of vintage patterns out there that would easily replicate these. The red one is particularly cute too....

Off the subject of coats, this mustard print tunic is more than a bit "me"; and I REALLY like the silhouette of this navy shell top with the elbow length sleeves and cute cuff detail...

While these silhouettes are not something I'd usually wear (apart from maybe the shirt with it's fab pleated collar), isn't that burnt out velvet just delicious?! And the silhouette of that dress bears more than a passing resemblance to the short sleeve version of the Elizalex dress, no? Handy that they just happen to be just starting a sewalong too!

Not that I'm endorsing ripping off a design before it's even hit the stores (cough) Merely offering up inspiration and food for thought.....!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Come say Hi on Facebook...

I have FINALLY gotten around to setting up a dedicated page on Facebook (social media dinosaur that I am!).....

The purpose of this page is to share little snippets of stuff that don't warrant a fully blown blog post, to keep you updated with new posts as they are published, offer sneak peaks of stuff before it hits the blog, inspration found around the web etc etc. Sooo if you wanna come say hi on Facebook click here to be redirected, (or on the Facebook icon at the top of the blog) and then click "like" to start receiving updates. Only if you want to of course.....;)

Monday, March 11, 2013

Stop Press! The Refashioners is back!

Oh, yes!!! That's right!! it's back!! May I present to you, The Refashioners 2013...

This year, starting on 3rd June, there will be not one, but TWO weeks of fabulous and inspiring posts from some fabulous and inspiring bloggers from around the blogosphere. Just check out this years line up:

Zoe - So Zo...
Dixie - Dixie DIY
Lauren - Lladybird
Tasha - By Gum By Golly
Sally - Charity Shop Chic

Ammended 12/03: Also Liz - Cotton & Curls

Oh and little ole me! Hello!

Sooooo, pop the dates in your diaries peops! You are not going to want to miss this! And spread the word and share the fun with your readers too (only if you want to that is!) Feel free to grab the code for one of the buttons below (2 sizes) and add it to your side bar :)

300px Wide:
The Refashioners

The Refashioners

350px Wide:
The Refashioners

The Refashioners

Watch this space! Eeeeep! I'm so excited about this one....!

Curved hem "cheat"!

It's fair to say, I like me a curved hem. It's also fair to say, I find them a buggar to sew. But last week my college tutor delved into the college stash and pulled out this hemming aid. (I was working on my Aztec top at the time) She had no idea what it was called, or where it had come from. All she knew is that it was bloody brilliant for hemming knits. She demonstrated it on a straight hem sample. Brilliant, I thought! And duly took some home with me to finish my top. Then, as I do alot, I made it slightly more complicated for myself, by deciding I wanted a high/low curved hem (my own worst enemy I am!). And therin lay the challenge that spawned one of my favourite things.....a eureka moment!

I think this stuff is akin to Steam a Seam. Karen goes into more detail here about the overall process of using it. But this "cheat" is primarily concerned with how you get the stuff to go around a curved hem; when it is essentially a straight strip of paper. Hmmmm......

Notching that's how! After all, don't we use notching on fabric seam allowances to achieve all those curved elements; like collars, sleeve seams etc. Stands to reason then, that to curve that straight strip of paper backed stuff, notching would do the trick, right? Right! So I notched the entire strip before pressing it to my hem edge. As I worked along the edge I used the notches to manipulate my strip to follow the curved edge of my hem. Worked like a dream! When it came to peeling the paper backing off, it was a bit fiddlier, as essentially I was adhering the strip to itself where the notches overlapped to create the curve. But this was seriously a minor detail. The paper backing still came off fine, just in 3 or 4 pieces rather than one smooth strip. It pressed over beautifully with none of those mini folds/pleats that I often have to fight with when sewing a curved hem. I applied the same technique to my curved neckline too, which was alot easier than facing it or applying binding.  Happy days!

Gonna try this on a woven fabric to see if it's as effective there. If it is, then I can see this stuff becoming a staple in my sewing supplies. (I really ought to stop calling it "stuff" if we're gonna have a long term relationship....;)

Friday, March 08, 2013

DIY: Candy Set

Now, before I launch into this "how to" I have one word for you.  Buttons.  I once made a version of this using old vintage buttons and crystal drops. (Long since lost sadly) So if you have a healthy button stash at home you could create the perfect sewist themed accessory using the same process!

This is another one of the items I made when I was challenged to remake a bag of cheapo costume jewelry into something a bit more, well, tasteful, I guess! I's a simple way to jazz up a plain chain necklace or bracelet.....A beady charm bracelet and matching necklace. I think it turned out cute, at least....

You will need:

1) Open up your jump ring and slip on a bead (or button!) (To open a jump ring, grip it on both sides with pliers so the opening is in between your sets of pliers. Then simultaneously move one set of pliers away from you and the other set of pliers towards you. This opens up the jump ring without distorting it's circular shape. If you try and prise it open left to right, it'll get all bent out of shape. Just tellin' ya!)
2) Slip on a link of your chain
3) Close up your jump ring (as for opening but reversed :)
4) Keep adding beads/buttons in this way; alternating from left to right. So if you lay your chain flat as I have, the 1st bead is added to the right side of the 1st link. The 2nd bead is added to the left side of the 2nd link, the 3rd bead is added to the right side of the 3rd link and so on. (This creates that "cascading" effect in the finished piece rather than having all the bead hanhing side by side from the base of the chain when you wear it)
5) If you want to add in some bead drops then you can make some using headpins. (Se how to here)
6) Add them to your chain, alternating in the same way as you did before.

Now go raid your button stash!  ;)

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

FO: The Aztecs are coming...!

To date I have sewn very little jersey. I don't have an overlocker for starters; and my machine still has nightmares about a particularly thin and cheap jersey she ate last year. But when I saw this Aztec print jersey just before Christmas, I was tempted to try again. I reasoned that at £11 a metre (yes you read that right!) the quality of THIS jersey had to be as good as it seemed. I knew as soon as I clapped eyes on it, what it would be destined for. I don't wear alot of "busy" patterns like this, but when I do, I like to keep the style simple, and let the fabric do the talking. So yes, you guessed it....this is yet ANOTHER variation of my kimono tee pattern, with a couple of tweaks....

I lengthened the pattern and cut a high/low curved hem. It's fast becoming a favourite of mine. I drafted something similar here, only this time I cut a convex curve at the front. So the hem basically resembles shirt tails.  I was a little worried about hemming. I mean a curve hem on woven fabrics is bad enough; but on jersey?! Ah well, I had a little eureka moment!! Which I shall share once I've worked out where I've saved the pics!  Oh, and the top is teamed with another pair of refashioned jeans, so I guess that's two FO's!

Everything's been a little manic for the past week. We finally finished up filming the pilot at the weekend. Now it goes to edit for about a week and then....then it goes to the channel and we spend a week or so biting our nails to find out if they want to commission the full series. The weekend was fun. Bloody cold, but fun. We were filming outside all afternoon in Camden Market. Nothing like being filmed in a place filled with achingly cool and hip types to make a girl feel self conscious, ha ha!

Anyway, fingers crossed and I shall keep you all posted ;)