Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Summer Sewing Plans

Hey guys!!! How are you all? 

This week my mind has turned to the lack of sewing output I've had recently, and how that ties into an absolutely brilliant opportunity I've recently been given. 

This coming summer - June, July and August - I'll be working as a waitress in one of the most beautiful hotels on the Isles of Scilly. 28 miles off the coast of Cornwall, the islands have a gorgeous, sunny summer climate - and I need to be prepared! I am super excited, but there is one bit of bad news - my sewing machine can't come with me. That means I have to make everything for my summer wardrobe before I go! 

Five weeks into a new semester, my time is already mostly filled with the constant seminar work that comes with being a uni student, coursework, essays and, pretty soon, exams. Therefore, sewing time will be tight and if I want to get everything ready, I'll have to be really organised. I've put together a plan of some projects I really want to complete: 

McCall's 6503 shirtdress in pale blue nautical cotton

Sewaholic Cambie in soft, lightweight floral cotton

Yoke Top from 'Learn to Sew with Lauren' in a silky cotton lawn

New Look 6483 top in green floral cotton lawn (the red view in the bottom left

Vintage Butterick 7278 with pink floral cotton

My current plan is to cut out the pieces for every project before sewing anything, so when I finish one I can move onto the next without my motivation being dampened by the need to cut (is it just me or is cutting out patterns the absolute worst bit of sewing?). I'm fairly sure that with lots of different projects ready to go, a lot of procrastination time will be saved and everything will be ready sooner. That might even give me time to squeeze in a few extra makes! I've always been a pretty speedy sewer so I'm hoping these projects will be ready in time for a long summer away from my machine. 

Has your mind switched to summer sewing yet, or am I a bit early this year? 

Beth x

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Incorporating Vintage Styles into Your Wardrobe

In sewing terms, vintage is defined as materials over twenty years old - not a fine wine, as Google helpfully suggests. I'm sure that a lot of you, like me, spend much of your day on Pinterest swooning over fit and flare dresses of the fifties or fringe trims of the twenties - in many ways so much more elegant than the fast fashion we see on the high street today. However, whilst there are some out there who dress in these beautiful styles on a regular basis, many people don't feel comfortable wearing full-on vintage attire in their everyday lives. 

As a student reading History at university (specifically Welsh History but the same sentiment applies!), I feel a strong connection with the clothes of bygone ages. If you're lucky enough to chance upon a thirties skirt at a vintage fair, imagine the person who owned it when it was brand new. It's survived a World War! That original sixties shift dress your grandma has tucked away in her attic was around when the Beatles were performing. The stories vintage clothes hold are something that could and should be delved into and treasured.
If your reason for not choosing to sew with vintage patterns is that the styles are not practical enough for your everyday wear, think about how you could change the design to suit your needs. Shorten the skirt or decrease its volume, remove the shoulder pads, add or take off sleeves, don't bother wearing a petticoat underneath. Bringing vintage designs forward into the modern world, whether they are original or reproduction, helps us to connect with our past and preserve the rich history our ancestors helped to create and were a part of.
Furthermore, if creating a vintage garment from scratch is not your forte, you may want to consider up-cycling or refashioning instead. Search through stalls at vintage fairs or charity shops for unique treasures. The long, eighties skirt you've just discovered may, of course, suit you perfectly. However, just like I feel with an increased skirt length, you may feel it looks a little frumpy. But wait! Before you put it back, consider its potential. Would it look much better if you simply reduced the length and re-hemmed it? With the addition of some straps, could it be transformed into a chic dress? In our ever increasing consumerist society, it is becoming more important than ever to look back at older materials and give them a new purpose, rather than discarding them for the sake of something brand new. If a vintage garment isn't for you, don't dismiss it - change it. That's the beauty of sewing! We can do exactly what we want with the materials to hand to create exactly the look we want.
Finally, another simple way to get in touch with your vintage side is to not make it the focus of your outfit. If you are in love with the fifties look, why don't you start out with a touch of red lipstick and a headscarf? For a forties appearance try incorporating collared blouses with fitted or pleated skirts into your regular look. It doesn't take much to look retro inspired and as you practice bringing different styles into your wardrobe, your confidence to wear vintage fashions will grow until it becomes second nature.
Our past should be valued, not forgotten. Vintage styles are a primary way for home sewers to keep in touch with their own personal heritage as well as to flex their skills and create looks that are different to those we see on the high street. By using what has been left to us by past generations, we connect with others throughout history and are able to give new life to garments and materials that would otherwise be replaced by unnecessary new products which don't have the beautiful back story all vintage clothes and patterns come with. Together, we can preserve this past and bring it forward to give it a new use in the modern day.

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Our Trip to Abakhan

Hello all! 

Yesterday I went on a trip to Abakhan in Mostyn with Bangor University's Craft and Sewing Society - have you ever been? It's amazing! 

I've only ever visited the Abakhan in Chester, which for my modest fabric needs has usually been pretty good. However, it doesn't even compare to the branch in Mostyn. It spans multiple buildings, one of which is dedicated entirely to knitting! Another is for dressmaking of course, and for sewers, it is pretty much heaven. 

There was so much choice it was almost overwhelming, and I spent about an hour just wandering around touching fabric randomly and sighing longingly. I'm sure you can all relate! In the end, I came away with these three choices - the top two are metre lengths of cotton lawn for blouses, and the other is a plain navy cotton for a pleated skirt. 

I also picked up a new pattern! I really love View A here, and am looking forward to picking up some suitable fabric for it when I go home at the weekend. 

Finally, I picked up some bits and bobs I've been wanting for ages. Here you can see: 2m of white piping, 10 self cover buttons, regular and ballpoint machine needles, two spools of shirring elastic and 4 belt buckles. Hopefully these will help me to embellish my garments - I am really trying to get a bit more inventive with my sewing, stretching both my skills and imagination. 

Now I am really looking forward to delving into a new project and getting my stitch on. 

I hope you have a lovely week everyone, 

Beth x

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Winter-Summer Dress

Two makes in two days! I'm feeling so inspired to sew right now. 

This is New Look 6457, which was a complete joy to put together. A little more technical than my usual makes, it took a bit more concentration and tweaking to get right, which helped maintain my interest in the project.

It took about four and a half hours from start to finish. I shortened the bodice by 4.5cm to stop it looking frumpy on me, and added a trim of two rounds of pink ribbon for an extra pretty detail. 

Now, I know what you're thinking: this is very much a summer dress. When my local market's fabric stall got their summer stock in, I knew what I wanted to do with this fabric right from the start. However, I also knew that once finished, I wouldn't be able to resist waiting at least two more months before it could be worn...so I invested in some woolley cream tights! They match perfectly and mean I can wear this dress even though it's still chilly out. Look! It even matches my thick cream cardigan. 

What a dress. Summer and winter...perfect. 

I hope everyone is having a lovely creative week (and staying healthy! There are so many colds going around). 

What are your current projects please? 

Beth x

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Vintage Refashion

Hey guys :) 

Since Christmas I've been a bit slow on the sewing front, as on my return to uni I was thrown straight into exam season and then a new semester, which triggered a bit of a sewing block. However, I now finally have something new (well...old) to show you! 

A vintage refashion! 

I picked up this 80s skirt at the vintage store in Upper Bangor near where I live. On some people longer skirt lengths can look fabulous, but on me I always think they look dowdy. However, I knew that the large amount of fabric had great potention and I snapped it up for just £7. 

This is what it looks like now! To transform it, all I did was trim down the elasticated waistband, turned it over and stitched to stop fraying. The elasticated piece I'd trimmed off was then converted to two separate straps. Done! 

I'm so pleased with this dress - it only took half an hour to refashion and it's really reignited my love of sewing. My university's craft society is going on a group trip to Abakhan this weekend, so I really hope to pick up some inspirational dressmaking materials that I can put to good use now I seem to be out of my sewing block. I'm also definitely calling into the vintage shop to pick up another of these skirts! 

Thank you for reading and I hope that wherever you are you're having a lovely week and the weather is not too cold :)

Beth x