Sunday, May 26, 2013

The Refashioners 2013 - Starts 3rd June!

People, I'm so excited! This year's instalment of The Refashioner's is just around the corner, and it's promising to be a total inspirationfest, let me tell you! For newer readers who may be unfamiliar with the series, let me recap I first ran this challenge back in 2011. You can catch up on all past posts here. Essentially this is a blind challenge. A call to arms of some of the interweb's best sewing bloggers to flex their creative muscles and step up to the plate. All of the bloggers below have done just that; and about 2 months ago they received a "mystery" package, from me, in the mail. A garment (or maybe something else...) that they were charged with turning into something amazing. They had no idea what they would receive. Would I be kind to them? Or would they hear a faint evil laugh echoing as they opened their parcels?? Well, in the fullness of time, they'll tell you that themselves.....

The Refashioners 2013: Joanne,  Tasha,  Liz,  Zoe,  Karen,  Marie,  Elisalex,  Lauren,  Sally,  Dixie.

Starting from 3rd June, there will be not 1, oh no, but 2 weeks of guest posts from the talented stitchers above! Some of whom are old hands at refashioning, and some who are dipping their stitching toes in the water for the very first time; and pushing themselves out of their familiar comfort zones. All in and effort to inspire us all to have a go at refashioning and show you  that a flat length of fabric is not the only starting point. That you have all the raw materials you need at the back of your wardrobe, or in your local charity shop/thrift store. I for one can't wait to show you what they've come up with. This is going to be AWESOME!

Friday, May 24, 2013

MMM'13: Weekly Round Up

OK! We're on the home straight and to be fair, I'm starting to miss some of my non MM garments. The thing is, if this was a sustainability or thrifty challenge then I'd be laughing. Because anything I have in my wardrobe has either been thrifted (usually for a song. 7 for all Mankind Jeans for 99p peops. Oh yes!), thrifted & refashioned, or made from scratch (mostly from thrifted fabric). So my sustainability and thrift credentials are pretty respectable. But when looking at only MM garments (in my case made from scratch or refashioned) not all of my MM items have MM partners; and for the first time this week I had to really think about the "no repeats" part of my challenge. A couple of times this week I found myself in an outfit combo that I'd already used; so had to rethink and have a quick change. Nonetheless, I am on target for MM tops and bottoms every day so far, with no outfit repeated...

18th May: Sorbetto Tunic & skinnified jeans -  A bit summery for this weather (I did have a cardigan on all day too). The only thing I don't like about this top on me, is that from the side it looks a little tent like as it hangs straight down from my "shelf". Won't stop me wearing it though Mrs C ;)
19th May: Polka Dot Kimono Tee & Skinnified Jeans - Ahhhhh, comfort city! I've yet to find another fabric this soft, light and cool. It was a total bargain from Goldhawk Road. Easy to work with and launders really well without the need for ironing. Is that not the perfect fabric?!
20th May: Nautical Tee & Golf Trousers - Comfort city AGAIN. These trousers have been a great addition.

21st May: Chambray Shirt (under thrifted jumper) & Golf Trousers - I like this kind of "preppy" look. Smart casual and a little tomboyish. It feels like it suits my personality, if that makes sense?
22nd May: Aztec Tee & Skinnified Jeans - This really is a lovely jersey. I had to restitch the neck and hemline the other day. I hadn't used a stretch stitch the first time round (slapped wrist!). Comfy, comfy, comfy!
23rd May: Coffee Dyed Silk Top & Skinnified jeans - Stop Press! Portia wears something tucked in! Ta dah! Actually, I think this works. Probably because it's a very fine crepe silk so doesn't bunch up and drapes well. This is the first time I've actually worn this top because it just doesn't work hanging loose. Guess I just had to pluck up the courage and try something out of my usual comfy zone; and actually, I'm glad I did!

Soooo, this week I have realised....

  • The world doesn't end if I tuck something in
  • Tartan trousers rock. Must find me some more
  • Sometimes a garment that languishes unworn in your wardrobe, need only be worn slightly differently to make it work. The silk top is a case in point. It actually has cuffed long sleeves, and a boxy shape with a cuffed hem. Trust me it does nothing for me. But tucked in and with the sleeves turned up, it's much more wearable.
  • I roll up long sleeves unconsciously....seriously, every jumper or cardigan I wear. I've only just noticed looking back at these round ups! They just get in the way when you're busy don't you think? Is that where the phrase "roll up your sleeves and get on with it" comes from? Is it a psychological thing that says "right, I'm rolling my sleeves up now. I mean BUSINESS!" Why don't I just get knitwear with 3/4 length sleeves? Would it be as satisfying as actually rolling them up, or less frustratiing when they keep falling down while you're washing up? So many little time...because well...I'm busy! Can't you tell from the rolled up sleeves?!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Inspiration: Colour Blocking

One of the things I don't feel very confident with is combining colour. When I saw this collection from Tata Naka I was blown away by their colour palettes and clever use of panelling and seaming. If you can look past the slightly wacky aesthetic, this is really clever stuff. While I don't think could pull off one of these looks myself, there are elements that would be fun to incorporate into future makes....

All images Tata Naka via Calivintage

What say you? Genius? Or the wrong side of whacky?

Monday, May 20, 2013

FO: Electric Blue Sorbetto Variation

This is me dressing for the weather I want rather than the weather we have! In fact, as I type this, I'm staring at a grey drizzly morning and wrapped up in a chunky cardi with a warming cup of coffee! (I drink an unhealthy amount of coffee every day!) It's a variation of the Sorbetto pattern using the same fabric as my Electric Blue Kimono Tee....

Essentially I lengthened the front & back pieces to create a high low scooped hem. It's a hem treatment I'm growing rather fond of; although this is the most exaggerated incarnation of it so far! (You'll notice a few examples in this recent inspiration post) The neckline and armholes are finished with self fabric bias using my nifty cheat method...
One problem with this top....despite pre washing the fabric, the kimono tee I made from it has shrunk to unwearable proportions after just 2 washes. So if I want to keep this top wearable, it's handwash only. Which is a pain in the backside! Ah well! Come on summer! Where the heck are you?!

Friday, May 17, 2013

MMM'13 - Weekly Round Up

So another week down! So far no repeats. The addition of a couple of new makes has made this week a bit easier to be fair. Every new top I make could be another 5 outfits when paired with 5 different MM/skinnified jeans. BOOM! Anyhow here's how it went down this week. Some good, some not so good:

10th May: Chambray Tee & Skinnified Jeans - Simple and unfussy. Not alot can go wrong here!
11th May: Electric Blue Tee & Refashioned Jeans - Gah! My newly made blue top has SHRUNK despite conscientious prewashing. Furthermore, it's shrunk even further in the next wash so now it is unwearable! These jeans were a 16 that I downsized to a 14 and narrowed before I lost my weight. They're too big in the waist now, and so bunched up with a belt. But I rediscovered them and thought they might do in a pinch. Undecided. There's something about them that just doesn't work but I can't put my finger on what it is.
12th May: Refashioned tee & Skinnfied jeans - Yeah, I'm ok with this outfit. It's never gonna win any style prizes but it's comfy and casual and that's good enough for me!
13th May: Refashioned sweatshirt and refashioned jeans - No, no, no, no, no! No matter how I try I cannot get this sweatshirt to look right with anything other than non MM jeans. And look! It's those trousers again that didn't work on the 11th either.What is it about them....?

14th May: Geometric top & skinnified jeans - OK, but don't love it. Plus my fringe was doing my nut in that day!
15th May: Refashioned Chambray Shirt & Skinnified Jeans - I really like this outfit. Plus I felt better after taking the scissors to my fringe. Ah, the relief!
16th May: Chambray Tee & Refashioned golf trousers - Another outfit I like! (Seriously, you may not realise what a milestone it is for me to look at a pic and go "actually, that looks alright!")
17th May: Chambray shirt & skinnified jeans - Everything works for me here except the cardigan. It seems to optically widen me because it's hiding any shape/waist definition...

So what have I learnt this week?

  • I may have to rethink my lifelong love of cardigans. At least worn loose like that. The shape of the stripy jumper seems more flattering. Maybe need to aim for a few more jumpers in this shape
  • Longer jeans are more flattering for sure
  • Prewashing doesn't always future proof your makes against shrinkage. Scandalous!
  • I like patterned trousers! Must get me some more.
  • Chambray is NICE :)

Thursday, May 16, 2013

FO x 2: Chambray Tee & Refashioned Golf Trousers

Where I live we have quite a well off retired population. The kind that indulge in expensive hobbies like sailing and golf. As a result the charity shops here will often throw up golfing or sailing related wear. These trousers were a case in point. (£1 rail! Score!) I loved the tartan/plaid pattern and subtle colour way; but not the frumpy leg shape. so I tapered and skinnified them and teamed them with yet another kimono tee incarnation. This time with a boxy shell top vibe and the addition of a dinky patch pocket...

More ammo for MMM'13!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Bitesize Blogger: Opening External Links in a New Window

Welcome to a the first of a"mini" series of posts about the nitty gritty of this blogging malarkey! You may have noticed a few tweaks and changes to the look and functionality of this blog of late. Well, recently I've been delving into some html coding, & addressing all the niggly little things that have been bugging me about my blog. Some of it to do with functionality; some of it purely aesthetic. Anyway, you know how much I like to share my little eureka moments with anyone who'll listen; and I've had a few of you ask about different changes that I've made too.  So if, like I did, you have little niggles about your own blog, but feel a bit glazed over by html, then hopefully I can help show you how quick, easy, (and strangely!) fun, it is, to get the tool kit out and start tinkering with the insides of your blog! (Seriously, if I can do this, anyone can!)

One niggle for me is the way Blogger automatically opens all links in the same tab. So if I've got a link to another site in one of my sidebars, readers will be directed away from my blog and onto, let's say, Karen's Sewlutions post. Now I think people should click on the links in my sidebar, otherwise they wouldn't be there! But I don't want it to be at the expense of my blog. I want readers to hang around and have a look around my blog. They're less likely to do that if Blogger shuts down my page in order to send them to another blog that I've linked to. Ideally I want Blogger to keep my page open, then open any external links, in a new tab. (If you're not sure what I mean, then click on Karen's Sewlutions button in my sidebar. Watch, and it will open up a new tab along the top of your screen, with this page still open. Sorted!) This is how to get Blogger to do that. It involves adding some simple html code to a specific place in your template. It's not as geeky as it sounds. Promise!

1) Click on "Template" in your dashboard. Click on "Backup/Restore". This will download a copy of all of the coding that goes to make up your blog, and save it in a file on your computer. It's wise to do this after every few adjustments you make to your blog template. Then click on "edit html"

2) This will open up all the geeky gobbledy gook (aka HTML) that is behind your blog; and how it looks and functions. Within the first few lines you'll find a "<head>" tag. As highlighted in blue in the screenshot below. Click right next to it, on the same line...

3) Copy the code snippet below...

4) Then paste it right next to the "<head>" tag....

5) Click "save template" and you're done!

From now on, any links to external sites that you put in any of your posts OR your sidebars/footers etc, will open in a seperate window. Any links to other parts of your blog, will open in the same window. So your readers can go visit the sites you recommend, but still leave your blog open to come back to when they're done!

Told you it was easy ;) (and secretly quite satisfying. Or am I just sad?!)

Refashion: Chambray Shirt

I've been toying with the idea of a sleeveless shirt for a while. There're a couple of examples in this inspiration post.  In fact I bought this shirt last year on a day out with Zoe, charity shopping in Leigh on Sea. (That's why the lighting/colour in the "before" pic is a bit weird. Taken in the middle of winter last year, so dodgy light). Is that not a perfect day? Charity shopping with someone who loves it as much as you!

Anyway. A pretty simple refashion, although not as simple as chopping the sleeves off....

After removing the sleeves, I took it in by about 2" each side (this was a baggy shirt!) and shaped it slightly at the side seams, added bust darts for further shaping; then reshaped and finished the armholes. I added a button under the collar so I could do it up right up to the neck; which gives it a more current look. The fabric is really soft and it's a really comfy garment to wear.  I can see this making a great wardrobe basic. Worn as is on warm days, or layered up on cold days. Which makes this multi seasonal and VERY likely to be cropping up alot for the remainder of MMM'13!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Inspiration: Need Supply Company

I am seriously crushing on these pieces from Need Supply Co. The delicious colour palette, the simple shapes and styling....
All images Need Supply Co

Sunday, May 12, 2013

9 Quick Projects - Skirts & Trousers

Need a quick project to boost your Me Made wardrobe? Check out these super quick skirt and trouser makes: 1,  2,  3,  4,  5,  6,  7,  8,  9.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Me Made May - Round Up

Ahhhh...9 days down and not a repeat in sight (yet). Actually, it's a bit trickier than I anticipated because alot of my past MM items (ie when I was a larger size and also bodged alot of my makes!) have long since been sent to the charity shop. Some have even fallen apart :/ In addition, this week has exposed some recent makes that are pretty much wardrobe orphans; or at least don't have any Me Made partners. So if I am to succeed in my self imposed challenge, I shall have to rack up a few new makes as I go along! Anyway, here's a run down so far...

1st May: Aztec tee & skinnified jeans. Hmm, wrong shoes for this outfit I think. My sandals would have made it look less frumpy.
2nd May: Refashioned sweatshirt & skinnified jeans. This is borderline. It's ok (maybe slightly 80's soft rock!) but I think I need some relaxed fit trousers to go with this top. It's proving tricky to style this top even though I love it. My dark denim jeans work with this but they're not Me Made.
3rd May: Plum Pudding Tunic & skinnified jeans. I like this overall silhouette. I must measure the length of this tunic as it hits at just the right point on the thighs to be flattering.

4th May: Refashioned Tee & skinnified jeans. Erm, Axl Rose eat your heart out! This worked ok with the long chunky cardigan I wore it with. But if you ever see me out in this combo ever again, SLAP ME!
5th May: Kimono Tee & Refashioned Maxi plus Me Made necklace. I really like this outfit. There, I said it! Perhaps some more jersey maxi's on the horizon? Have to get some jersey first...
6th May: Nautical Tee & skinnified jeans. This top is one of my very earliest makes but still gets worn all the time. I guess it was an early precursor to my kimono tees. This combo is OK, but I don't love it.

7th May: Stripe Tee & skinnified jeans - This is a classic combo for me. Skinnies, top and a cardi
8th May: First ever Kimono Tee & skinnified jeans - As above. I'm in comfortable territory here. Kinda my uniform and how I feel most comfortable. This is still my fave kimono tee. Fabric is so soft and cool. Quite a bit looser these days, and I actually think I might add some more ease back in to my kimono tee pattern for future makes. I redrafted it after I lost weight but I think I prefer the looser fit.
9th May: Tea Dyed Silk Top & skinnified jeans - The colours work here. But the shape of this top is all wrong on me. Just feel so frumpy in it. I bought some matching thread today...look out for a refashion...

So...observations so far:

  • Keeping the Me Made pledge on my bottom half is easy. Practically all of my jeans are bought from charity shops and then refashioned to fit.  I have pairs in black, navy, khaki, purple, polka dots, and light denim. Plus two pairs in my refashion pile awaiting "the treatment"
  • I'm gradually increasing my stock of Me Made tops. This has always been my stumbling point. It's getting better. I currently have about 10 me made tops and one new one already this week and 3-4 more in progress! (inc a Laurel!)
  • I REALLY like jersey maxis. So comfy and so quick to sew, even on a standard machine. I'll probably use the one above as a template to churn out a few more...
  • I desperately need to cut and colour my hair! It's getting very unruly
  • I really ought to get acquainted with my iron! The only time I use it is during construction. I rarely iron stuff before I wear it. Ahhh, lifes tooooo short man!
  • I still hate the photography part!
So all in all, some really useful info  gleaned already :) How are you guys doing?

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Refashion: Monochrome Maxi (inc Tutorial)

I've been wanting to try out a maxi skirt for a while. The really gathered ones just don't suit me. Gathering around the waist in general is a no no for me. (I'm too straight up and down, so any gathering at the waist just makes my waist look thick).  But when I saw this slim fitting jersey maxi dress, I thought it would make a cute skirt....

Nothing really wrong with the dress. But another no no for me are racer backs. I need a bit of "soft scaffolding" to keep my "ladies" sitting where they ought to, and I have a thing about not having my bra straps on show. So I just chopped off the top section and added an elasticated waistband....
Now I know many of you won't need the full deets on how to add an elasticated waistband, because, well, it's one of the first and easiest things we learn. But I'm mindful too of the fact that I will occasionally play host to some readers just embarking on their sewing "journey" ;) So I wanted to document  this process for my archives....because of it's versatility it kinda HAS to be in there...just in case anyone ever needs it :)

Encased Elastic Waistband:

1. If like me, you're refashioning a dress into a skirt, then start by cutting in a straight line, straight across, and remove the top portion.
2. Turn under and press a 5/8" hem, (stitch if you like but not necessary) then turn over again, according to the width of your elastic (mine was 1.5" wide) plus 2-3mm extra. Pin in place.
3. Stitch close to the inner edge, leaving approx 2" open/unstitched.  I used a stretch stitch because I was working with jersey, If working with a woven fabric, a simple straight stitch will suffice.
4. Put your length of elastic around your waist. Stretch it around until it's under tension and feels like it would hold your skirt up, but still feels comfortable. Holding it in place with one hand, use a pen to mark on both ends, where you want to join the elastic.

5. Attach a safety pin to one to one end of the elastic
6. Feed the safety pin through the gap you left in the waistband
7. Start feeding the elastic through
8. As you ruche the fabric and pull the elastic through, take care that the elastic doesn't twist.

9. Keep feeding the elastic through until it comes out the same place you started. Again making sure you don't twist it.
10. Line up the marks you made earlier
11. with the two ends of elastic overlapped, and the pen lines lined up, stitch and back stitch along these lines
12. Trim the excess elastic close to the stitching and then slip stitch or machine stitch that little opening closed; and it's done :)

Such an easy waistband. Probably the easiest there is; and with so many different applications for all manner of garments whether woven or knit fabric.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Top Tip: Reinforcing Pattern Markings

If you've got a pattern that you've used multiple times (we all have a favourite right?!), then you'll know how battered those little pattern markings get after you've tailor tacked them a few times. Once they've been used a couple of times, those small holes can easily enlarge or tear and well, that's just a pain in the rear! Here's a handy way of making them more durable....


Thursday, May 02, 2013

April Round Up....

I've been focussing alot recently on organising myself a bit better so I can make more time for making. Yay! So I thought each month, it would be interesting (for me at least, and hopefully for you too!) to take a look back at the previous month and see my output. Half of these I'd forgotten about already! How bad is that?!

Top Row: Blue Kimono Tee, Applique Cushions, Crochet & Chain Necklace, Sweatshirt Refashion.
Bottom Row: Nautical Outfit Refashion, Leather Planner, Bleach Polka Dot Jeans, Fishook Earrings

So I'm averaging about 2 handmade items a week. Not bad. I'm anticipating May's tally will be higher though. MMM'13 always motivates me to make more so I don't run out of outfit options mid month. Especially as this year I have given myself the added challenge of not wearing the same outfit twice! Aaargh!
In addition to that, May will be the first full month of using my new planner, and in theory, being sooooo organised that I have more time to sew. We shall see!

Do you keep tally of how much you're getting done? What's your sewing/making output per month/week?

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

DIY: Planner (Part 2) The Printable Planner Pages (inc Free Download)

...and so we arrive at the point where we get down and dirty with a printer, a guillotine and a hole punch! These are the Free Printable Planner pages. Ready to download whenever you are and completely editable (so if you find this post 2 years down the line you can still just change the dates!). All of these pages will print onto A4 or, as pictured below, A5.

A simple Year to View....

...Month to View

...Week to View

...pages for the list makers among you

...which could be edited for anything just by changing the this for my fellow bloggers!

Editing Options:

I've provided these pages as editable Word documents. (In theory they should work in Open  Office but may be a bit glitchy. Let me know!) Essentially they're created using the "table" function in Word and then all the individual rows, columns and cells have been formatted to create what you see before you. The entire thing is editable. But presuming you're happy with the overall layout then the 2 main things that you're likely to want to edit/customise will be:

  1. The dates in each cell. You'll need to change those to create a set of pages for each month/week I'm afraid. It doesn't take that long really. I just sat there watching the telly while I was doing mine. Alternatively you could delete out all the dates, print blank ones and fill them out by hand. Obviously the boxes that are blocked out in colour will change according to the way the dates fall in each month
  2. The colours, the font size/style/colour, and the position of the text within each cell. You might choose to have your date numbers on the right of each box/cell for instance. 
I've highlighted in the screenshot below, the menus where all these changes can be made. But if you get stuck, email me :)

Printing Options:

The files provided will print automatically onto A4. If you want A5 size then simply select the "2 pages per sheet" option when your printer dialogue box pops up. Be sure to print with "no scaling" just as you would when printing a pdf pattern ;) Your printer will then print both the left and right hand pages onto one A4 sheet that will then need to be sliced down the middle. More on that in a minute!

But what about the blanks on the reverse of my printed planner pages you may ask? Well, you could leave them blank so that between each week you have two blank pages for notes/sketches etc. Or you could feed your printed planner pages back into your printer, back to front, and print the "Notes/To Do" or "Blog Ideas" pages on the back of them; which is what I've done and it works really well for me.

Cutting and Punching your Planner pages:

If you've printed on A4 for a large size planner, then obviously no cutting is required. If you've printed your pages 2 to a sheet for A5 then they'll need to be sliced down the middle to give you your individual pages. I took mine into my local copy shop and asked very nicely if I could use their industrial guillotine. (I offered to put a donation into their charity box, which I think meant they couldn't say no!) It meant I could cut more pages and cut them more evenly. The ones you can see sticking out below are the ones I tried to cut at home with my dinky paper guillotine that cuts about 2 pages at a time and has no paper size guide to line it up. Nuff said!

For punching the holes, if you've got a 4 hole punch that matches the dimensions of your rings (or you local copy shop does ;), great. If not, you could do what I did. Create a little card template, and lay it on top of your pages to show you where to punch the holes using a single hole punch.

Important: Each week/month/year (and indeed notes/blog ideas pages) will have a left hand page and a right hand page. Before you punch your holes, you'll need to make sure that all the edges that need to be punched are aligned ontop of each other. So I'd recommend sorting all your left hand pages into one pile; and all your right hand pages into another. The left hand pages will need holes punched on the right edge; and the right hand pages will need holes punched on the left hand edge. Make sense? Scroll up to the page images at the top to see what I mean!

Assembling the planner:

Your pages will probably have got a bit mixed up during the cutting and hole punching process. I'm afraid I haven't worked out a way around this. It's simply a question of matching up your left hand pages with your right hand pages and inserting them into your planner like so...

...and there you have it. Your very own handmade leather planner with customised planner pages!!

Other Options:

  • Use a different fabric. Wool, denim, felt, linen? All would work equally well with this design.
  • Embroider or appliqué your binder to personalise it even more.
  • Add a pen loop (I forgot!) or stitch some pockets into the lining.
  • Use a different fastening. Press stud, button hole, magnetic closure, velcro, fabric ties, a buckle...
  • Choose some different planner pages. These are good (I originally planned to use them myself but they just didn't work in A5) or you could just google "free printable planner" and have a root around. There're some great free downloads out there. Even one that offers filofax compatible free printables

Happy planning!! (Any questions or problems with the download/editing pages etc....just drop me an email)