Thursday, 23 June 2016

Cats Eyes and Polka Dots

I am finally getting round to sharing this post a couple of weeks after the photos were taken.  Notice the glorious sunshine? Yeah, I'm actually missing that.  The reason for the delay is for the last two weeks I have had a really heavy cold.  A proper scabby nose from all the blowing, voice losing, sinuses killing cold.  In June.  Seriously.  I cannot remember the last time I had a cold and I am almost certain I haven't had one like this since I was a child.  What on earth is going on.  I am about 75% recovered now, I don't think I am contagious anymore and I am back to just constantly sniffing and having an annoying tickly cough.  Lucky me.

Anyways the woe is me aside that is not why I am here today, I am here to share these beautiful Alexa sunglasses from my pals at Glasses Direct.  I love Glasses Direct, they always arrive super quick and more importantly my prescription is always spot on.  I usually opt for London Retro frames but this time I decided to browse through their own collection appropriately named The Collection.  I think they are really good value and there are so many nice styles to choose from.  I went for the Alexa firstly because of the shape, I do love a good pair of cats eyes and secondly because they are a really subtle teal snakeskin print.  I thought they would look perfect as sunglasses though they would look pretty awesome with clear lenses too. I really like the Andi and the Belladonna frames, in fact there are loads of pairs I would go for as regular glasses and they start at just £25!

I am having to wear glasses over contact lenses more and more and while I have a couple of pairs of London Retro glasses that I love and wear in rotation I didn't have any prescription sunglasses in my most recent prescription.  The lenses are both anti reflection and polarised so they are great for wearing while driving and help reduce the likelihood of a glare induced migraine. I am really taken with them, just need a bit more sunshine so I can get to wear them please.

Shoes: Asos (Old)
Sunglasses: The Collection Alexa Glasses from Glasses Direct*


Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Teal Lady Skater

I've been perfecting my sewing with knits skills ready to tackle this beautiful wool mix jersey from Sew Essential.  I initially went for this fabric because it's my favourite shade of teal and I haven't made any block colour dresses yet but when I saw it was 18% wool I was really intrigued to see what it was like.  It has a lovely weight to it but is really drapey at the same time meaning it hangs beautifully.  It feels really luxurious to touch and sews up like a dream.  I'm thinking the wool will help as a temperature regulator too - breathable in the summer and warm in the winter and will report back when I find out.  It is the most expensive of the fabrics I have used so far coming in at £13.80 per half metre but I personally think it is worth that price tag and can see a navy version in my future sewing plans.  I originally planned to make the Out and About dress with this fabric but am glad it has become a Lady Skater instead, this also meant I over estimated the amount of fabric required so Gray may be getting a matching tee at some point!  Gray can now see the benefit of me sewing and has asked me to recreate his favourite tee.

As this is a solid print fabric I knew the hem would be pretty visible so wanted to give my twin needles their first outing.  I had bought both ballpoint and stretch twin needles in preparation and set up my new Janome DKS100 with two spools, inserted the ballpoint needles and grabbed a scrap to see how it looked and disaster!  The right hand needle was mostly skipped stitches so I re-threaded the machine, changed the bobbin, changed the presser foot tension and nothing made any difference.  I was ready to give up when I decided to switch the needles for the stretch ones and low and behold it worked perfectly straight away.  I had read that ballpoint was best for jersey type knits and stretch for high lycra content such as swimwear so thought I was opting for the right one.  I haven't been able to find any other details about how to choose the right type of twin needle so if you have any info I would love to hear it.  I am really pleased with how the hem eventually turned out and have used it on a couple of dresses since.

Sew Essential offer up a lovely range of dressmaking fabrics, I have my eye on some of this scrummy velvet for an Autumn/Winter version of the Lady Skater.  How perfect would that be?!  Christmas party dress sorted.  I can't believe I mentioned the C word already, haha.  Apologies for the squinting in the photos, I need to remember to wait til the sun has gone down before attempting outfit photos. Direct sunlight is not the most flattering, I am all squinty with too many harsh shadows but the dress looks ace so ho-hum.

Shoes: Orla Kiely x Clarks


Sunday, 5 June 2016

Let's talk knits

Three weeks ago I finally took the plunge and started sewing with knit fabrics.  Sewing and fitting knit and woven fabric is quite different so I put it off for ages having heard it is quite tricky.  I spoke to a few sewing friends for their top tips, found out the best places to buy jersey, which in my opinion is way harder to buy online than woven fabrics are, and arranged to go visit my mate Daisy Crumpet for a sewing with knits masterclass.  Over a few cups of tea we spent the afternoon putting together a muslin of the Lady Skater Dress by Kitschy Coo bodice in some cheap leopard print jersey I bought specifically for this purpose.  Once home I made up the skirt, attached it and decided that actually sewing with knits is a piece of cake.  Unfortunately I haven't actually worn the muslin I made as the fabric is cheap, thin and doesn't feel great but hey that's okay as I have now made 14 others that are all lovely to wear and sewing them has been really enjoyable.  I originally intended to make the Out and About dress by Sew Caroline as that looked most like my beloved Emery dress but it didn't arrive in time and I had also bought the Lady Skater PDF ready for making a Liberty sweatshirt dress so I just went for that.

This is my second Lady Skater dress, made out of a lovely dandelion print from Monaluna.  It's supersoft and lovely to wear but doesn't have that great a recovery so will need regular washing to bring it back into shape.  I use clear elastic in the shoulder seams and waist of all of my dresses to prevent them stretching out of shape and know that this fabric definitely benefits from that.  It's been a steep learning curve that all jersey behaves differently, I had to take this one in and it is still bigger round the waist than my other dresses plus it ended up a fair bit shorter even though it was cut out to the same length.  I've decided it's fun and flirty even if I do feel a little exposed in it!  If anyone has any helpful tips as to how to work out how each jersey will behave I would love to hear them.  The fabric is from Elephant in My Handbag, they have a lovely selection of jersey knits that can be found here.

Shoes: Orla Kiely x Clarks

The things I have learned along the way:

*  Sewing with knits is actually easier than sewing with wovens - no zips to insert for a start.  I use my overlocker for everything but the hems so it all comes together quickly.

*  Taking your time to learn good technique and having the right tools will give you a great finish.  I was worried my knits would look handmade so I avoided using zigzag stitches on hems and bought a tape to help stabilise them.  I love that I make my own clothes but I want them to look better than what I could buy in the shops.  Plus my stripes match up, dammit! 

*  Slow and steady wins the race when it comes to knits.  I love sewing foot to the floor and find it really hard to slow down but it is important to take it down a notch when sewing with knit fabric, no one wants a stretched out hem.

*  I actually like circle skirts.  I don't like circle skirts on woven dresses so haven't ever sewn one.  The skirt on the Lady Skater falls really nicely, it's gentle in a nice drapey jersey and more swishy and full bodied in a sweat.  I have made three sweatshirt fabric dresses so far and love wearing them.  It turns out I am not really a fan of a gathered skirt on a knit dress, I have added a gathered skirt to a couple of my dresses and much prefer wearing the circle skirt versions.  Wearing the Lady Skater dress has made me decide to give a woven circle skirt another go, I have some lovely crepe that will make an awesome Emery so am going to try it with a half or three quarter circle skirt (whatever my fabric will allow).  I'll still never be a fan of a full circle skirt.

*  Fitting knits is way easier than fitting wovens.  The Lady Skater is designed with negative ease over the bust so the stretch in the fabric does most of the work.  I didn't need to size up sleeves to fit my arms and there are no darts to sew!  For the Lady Skater I narrowed the shoulders, took off a little of the shoulder height and shortened the bodice and that's it in turns of fitting.  I also raised the neckline but that's personal preference rather than a fit adjustment. 

*  When it comes to knit fabrics it really is a case of getting what you have paid for.  Turns out I am not a fan of sewing with or wearing cheap jersey.  Most of the jersey I have bought is organic, manufactured in Europe and of lovely quality.  A lot of them have been around the £16-£20 a metre mark which I initially thought was really bloody expensive til I realised I only needed 1.5 metres compared to 2.5 for a woven dress.  I am going to compile a post of good places to buy knit fabric in the near future, I have spent many hours hunting around online.

*  Plus everyone knows knit dresses are in fact secret pyjamas, I had forgotten how comfy knit dresses are.


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