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Improving on Primark

I haven’t bought anything at Primark for about 5 years now (I got fed up with stuff disintegrating in the wash and having to put the zips and buttons back in pretty much as soon as I’d bought something) however I did used to acquire the odd amazing item.

one such item was this black and white skater dress I picked up about 6 or 7 years ago.

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on the hanger it doesn’t look like much and, its come apart at the side seam so much its probably unwearable these days. But back in the day it was one of my star dresses. It cost me about £3 but everyone who saw me in it was like, ‘omg thats a really nice dress, & really suits you.’

However I was never satisfied with it. The lace on it was virtually made out of dishcloth string, the polka dots were painted on as raised lump rather than dyed or woven into the fabric, & the skirt was a good couple of inches too short.

(close up of the skanky lace and painted on dots – now massively cracked and faded)

So the idea of remaking this came to me a fairly long time ago. Basically as I came across the Kitschy-cooo lady skater dress, which I have made multiple times in its long sleeved incarnation (hereherehere and here) I also picked up a random job lot of lace collar appliqués from the local fabric stall. The issue then was finding a decent polkadot jersey to make it in.

This was harder than you’d think. For about two years the only options on the fabric stall I came across were also painted on dots, annoyingly so were the options at Rolls and Rems, which charges a lot more, so I really wasn’t impressed. I tried looking on the internet, but the only fabric that made it clear the dots weren’t painted on was some horrifically expensive Japanese double sided fabric, which looked lovely, but far too decadent for what I needed. But eventually I found quite a small quantity of jersey from the fabric stall and although the dots were the wrong size it was finally a black and white polkadot that was good enough quality! (annoyingly I came across a larger quantity of jersey with the right size properly printed polkadots halfway through making the dress. Sods law I suppose!)

So here it is next to the original…..

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Not a completely identical match, but in terms of quality and length a massive improvement.

The only mistake I made with this dress was to leave the cut out fabric lying around for a bit too long. Thus I had to re-iron it when I finally got round to using it, & it stretched a little. But it wasn’t anything I couldn’t fix easily during construction.

& here it is on….

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Excuse the fat arms, I would normally wear it with some sort of cardigan. But I’m really proud of this, it looks exactly the kind of flattering and impressive the Primark number did when it was new. Only a lot more expensive/classy looking than if it came from Primark. But of course I only spent about £5 on the materials (Thank-you very much fabric stall) so its not actually any more expensive. This is why I love sewing!

At the moment I’m working on another cowl neck top – boring but necessary. I have pictures from SFX to post that I haven’t got round to yet, & Jon and I picked up the most amazing vintage wooden card index box from the street the other day – filled with lace! This will obviously need fixing up and blogging about at some point.

Oh yeah, I am now also on Instagram, as euphoricstimuli , about bloody time basically!

 

Fashionable velvet sweatshirt

So back in September last year when the September editions of all the magazines came out, the things I was most taken with were the burgundy velvet sweatshirts that appeared everywhere. 

Of course when it actually came to buying one, they are all £60-£80 plus and even the ones made for blokes I doubt would actually fit me. Certainly no one to my knowledge was making a reasonably priced plus size version.

So I got the idea to make one, but was struggling to find reasonably priced stretch velvet online (no matter how nice it looks in the photograph, do not go buying stretch velvet off eBay- big mistake) . Eventually I found a load on a reputable fabric website, but it was £12 a meter so before I bought it I thought I’d check the local fabric stall just invade they had anything suitable…..

And completely hit the jackpot. Ok it wasn’t burgundy, but I picked up 4m of the most beautiful lavender pink stretch velvet for about 4 or 5 quid a meter (I forget exactly). It was nicely thick anyway but was backed with a black stretch fabric that had been fused on, so it was really really stable and good quality.

So then all it came down to was finding time to make the thing. I wanted to do it asap as I don’t know how long the sweatshirts are going to look current for so I was determined to get some wear out of it this winter.

The pattern I decided to use is the Sewaholic Patterns Fraser Sweatshirt, partly as it was what I had in my stash anyway, partly because I’ve used Sewaholic patterns before and had good results, especially as they are designed for pearshaped ladies, & partly because when I read the reviews of the pattern it was supposed to be exactly the same construction technique as the Renfrew Top, which I’ve made multiple times, so I was reasonably confident about getting a good result first time.

The downside of the pattern is that looking at it on other people, the length runs a bit short, & although on smaller girls the sweatshirt appears lovely and fitted, on larger girls it’s a little boxy. Both of which were issues with my finished version, but I’m happy enough with how it turned out.

Anyway, I agonised for ages as to which version of the pattern to make, I had strong inclinations towards a black Peter Pan collar as I thought that was a colour combination that worked extremely well with this version I found through google image search. But at the last moment I decided to leave it plain, which is a decision I’m really glad I made as it lets the fabric really look luxurious on its own.

Anyway, pictures….


This is it hanging on the wardrobe, which is an unedited photo and very much true to colour with what it looks like.

The next 3 photos of it on me I have messed around with filters a bit as I was feeling a bit insecure and didn’t think they were the best photos in the world. (I don’t normally bother with them) 


As I said, it’s a little short, if I made it again I’d legnthen the bottom by about two inches, as I’m not sure it hits me at the most flattering point, & I know they look better but I am really not used to full length sleeves, I’m so used to 3/4 length I automatically shove them up my arm.

But overall I am really happy with how it’s turned out and with the pattern, & I’ve  worn it so many times it kind of needs a wash already.

Christmas 2014- 3 years late

So after a very long break, its finally finished…..

I first bought the fabric for this dress back in 2014, having stalked it in the internet for several years trying to get hold of it. Its called ‘In the beginning Winter Solstice’ by Jason Yenter. I fell in love with it and thought it would make an amazing Lolita dress when I first saw it online, but when I got hold of it I found it harder than I expected to get nicely co-ordinating lace. I wanted to go for gold to pick up the metallic highlights in the print, but back a couple of years ago it was not as easy as it is now to find nice lace on the internet, & its ruinously expensive to buy it in shops. So I found the right lace mid 2015, got the dress cut out and was all ready to go with it for xmas, when I had a massive mental block and didn’t know what the hell to do with it, or how to design it to do what I wanted (I had this sort of image in my head of what I wanted it to be, but couldn’t work out how to make it a reality.)

So I left it for a year, got going again with it after Halloween 2016, knew exactly what I wanted to do, it was all coming together lovely, & then I got the evil flu of doom that has knocked out so many people and was ill for 6 weeks, so got zero sewing done.

So then I was just determined to get the damn thing finished. There was a Lolita meet up I was going to at the end of January it was perfect for, so worked my butt off, got it finished, am very happy with the way it turned out, & then typically a freight train derailed at lewisham station 3 days before the meet, the trains suddenly got very unreliable, and after a nightmare journey home from Charing Cross one evening which took 2 hrs, one of which I was standing on various overcrowded trains (the journey should take 20 minutes and one should get a seat even in rush hour) I really couldn’t risk my health for that happening again  on the day of the meet as the trains were still down.So stayed at home 😦

Then after that I just got fed up with it, its February now, snowdrops are starting to come out, and I really wasn’t feeling very Lolita or up for an xmas dress. So it waited till this week to get photographed…

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I’m reasonably happy with the dress, I’m just not excited by it, but I’m sure I’ll be in complete love with it again next Christmas. I’m not massively feeling it for my co-ordinate either, I wore a wig cuz my hair desperately needs to see a hairdresser to sort out the colour one way or the other, so wasn’t really suitable for Lolita,  I think I need to wear it with a higher necked blouse and I think I probably need wrist cuffs and a cape of some sort, as tbh it was bloody freezing taking those photos. But given this is a ‘totally not the right season, I’ve just got to get some damn pictures!’ attempt. I think for next Christmas it’ll turn out lovely.

Close up of the fabric and bows….

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Anyway, now thats over I am 1/2 way through my pink velvet sweatshirt, so very relieved, was totally on schedule but haven’t been able to sew this week as I got another random germ. But as that seems to be going away, I’m sure I’ll have something to show very very soon.

 

 

 

Hipster shopping in Lewisham -Cacti and toadstools.

I finally have my actual computer back! 🙂 I installed a new hard drive all by myself and got it loaded up again with everything, and it works, & I am so damn happy, as finally I can do stuff like clear out my emails properly and post on here without worrying about my phone app crashing every 5 minutes. I am less happy about the fact all the iPhoto photos on my external hard drive are no longer compatible with the version on my laptop, so I still might have to take it in to the Mac-store and get someone to sort it after all. But you can’t have everything I suppose. 😦

Anyway, apart from burgling my computer. I have been away for a week and then came down with the inevitable lurgy for this time of year. So I’ve been permanently under the weather and haven’t done much sewing.

However I decided to go for a walk to Lewisham this morning to get a bit of fresh air and exercise. As well as me being ill, London has been freezing cold and polluted as hell lately, so I haven’t got out much.

This may have been a bit of a mistake for my bank balance, though I am really happy with what I’ve come home with.

First the fabric stall.

Back in summer they had some cactus prints in and posted on Facebook about it, but I was ill that day, & by the time I got down there the next day they were all gone. I wasn’t that gutted though, cuz they were all on a white background. & me and white fabrics aren’t best friends.

But today I picked this up:

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The lighting makes it look a bit shinier than it should, but it is black, & covered in cacti  and succulents. I’m not quite sure which pattern to use with it yet, but I am dead excited by this. I need to use it soon though as it is excruciatingly hipster at the moment.

Oh yeah, I also picked up some grey jersey and a pretty floral fabric to add to the general stash (I don’t know why I do this, I am so badly out of room to store the damn stuff!)

 

Then I went to Tiger,

I was tipped off about Tiger being amazing for Christmas stuff last year, but then I didn’t make it there till after Christmas, and as they change their stock immediately afterwards and don’t have a sale, missed out on the pretty stuff completely. Seeing how much I bought this time round, maybe it was for the best!

Er yeah….

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Clockwise from the top

They have been doing stuff with the stags on all year, & I loved it, but this is the first time they did a tray that was actually a sensible size, so I snapped it up.

The small thing with a stags head is a felt fridge magnet, it is so damn cute, & I needed another fridge magnet as there is a particularly large Japanese takeaway menu that isn’t properly stuck to our magnet board at the moment. So for that one at least there was an excuse.

Which is more than I can say for the gnomes, they are apparently paint it yourself, but I think I might leave them white to go with our bedroom decor. I have no idea why I bought them really, except they were £3 and there is a female gnome, I have a real thing for female gnomes.

The two boxes of small mushrooms are supposedly for putting on the tree, but I’m not sure, I might keep one of them for craft projects, I can see them going really well with a fairy wreath.

Talking of which the four wreaths at the bottom are actually for round candle sticks. They have mushrooms and berries on them. I have four lovely black candles I stole off my brother earlier in the year, that will go with the wreathes very well but I don’t have nice candle sticks to go with them yet. I’d really like old fashioned brass ones.

The grey man at the front reminded me of Gandalf, which is a good enough reason to buy anything.

The two in the pack together I just thought were quite cute and the lots of little dolls in the pack are a garland of elves apparently. I quite like the idea of a garland of small dolls.

And lastly the mushrooms in pots. They are candles apparently! I just thought that was adorable!I love fly agaric mushrooms and I love candles so its a perfect match. there were cactus ones as well, but apart from obviously I am going to have a dress, I’m not that into cacti as a hipster thing (we tried recently but they lived about 6 weeks) so I left them behind.

There is also loads of craft stuff for kids in Tiger at the moment. I had to stop myself coming home with about 3 different types of toy weaving looms and one of those knitting dolls, but really we do not have the space.

Anyway. instead of buying stuff I need to get on with making stuff, my xmas dress is halfway through, so hopefully that will be finished in then next two weeks. I don’t want it to go over to another year!

 

Simplicity 1137 – the medieval goth dress.

So about 18 months ago, Simplicity patterns decided to bring out a spate of Game of Thrones inspired patterns, which I viewed with interest, because although I have no intention whatsoever of doing straight Game of Thrones cosplay, some of the patterns looked like they’d make good medieval or goth dress basics if done in a different colour way.

Such a one is Simplicity 1137, based on costumes worn by the character Sansa Stark, it looks to me a bit of a mess on the cover, however looking at the technical drawings I thought it had good potential as a goth dress.

No one had reviewed it, which made me a little nervous, but I hoped that was down to the newness of the pattern rather than it being awful. However for this first version I decided to use random fabric off the local fabric stall rather than anything nice, just in case.

This actually worked out rather well, as the fabric I chose (largely on the basis that it was the only black fabric available in the necessary quantities – this dress is a massive fabric hog) turned out to be not only machine washable but had the right level of weight for the dress, which needs quite a heavy fabric, & did not need underlining, which is what Andrea Schewe, the designer suggests in her Blog post about the pattern.

Andrea Schewe’s blog is an invaluable resource btw if you are planning on making more recent Simplicity costume patterns. She writes about all the ones she designs and has guest posts by other designers, often there are tips, which you just wouldn’t know if you weren’t told that make the difference between a mess and a decent make. Such as this one about using a decent weight fabric or underlining it. When I had finished the folds of the dress hung beautifully! 

For the sleeves of the dress I decided to use a black and red brocade fabric I picked up a while back and reviewed in This post. It’s by Sartor, a company who provided some of the fabric for Game of Thrones, so I thought it was appropriate, & bonus points I bought one of their cheaper polyester brocades which means like the main part of the dress, it is also machine washable, which is a massive advantage to me.

So…. I’d heard rumours that Simplicity had resolved their insane sizing issues with the costume patterns at least, so I cut a size 20, however I didn’t much worry about having massive seam allowences, and it fit perfectly! 

There is a logical point after you’ve sewn the seams of the dress together and put in the zip but before you add the sleeves and facings to fit the dress properly, so I didn’t make a proper mock up. It fit extremely well with minimal adjustment. I did however wait till I’d fitted it to cut out the sleeves fabric, as I didn’t want to waste expensive fabric if the dress wasn’t going to look good.

It is extremely easy and a straightforward pattern to follow. I did it in three batches of about 3 hours each. The only issue I had was working out what the hell the hem is supposed to be doing. I think there’s supposed to be a slight train at the back, at least there was when I’d finished, but I’m not sure if there definitely meant to be.

Anyway, piccies of the dress….


I think it’s really flattering. I’m totally happy with it. Although I wore it for Halloween as a witch costume I think it’s professional and non-costumey enough looking that I could get away with it in a goth club. 

I would make this again in a flash if I could think of a reason to, & I would definitely reccomend the pattern to other people. 

The lady vanishes

So I knew I hadn’t posted for a bit, but I didn’t realise it’s been nearly three whole months since I posted anything.

Partly it’s because I got ill, which wrote off August, then September was spent holding the fort because Jon was going for a promotion (which he’s got) and spent every weekend either working on his job application or interview practice, so I ended up having to do a lot more house jobs and cooking during the week instead of sewing. In the past couple of weeks I’ve been working on stuff, but although very straight forward, it’s a larger project than I tend to do these days so it’s taking multiple weeks to finish. 

However I have finished this hat for Jon…..


It’s another Bobeek hat, Jon liked my Red hat so much he wanted his own model. 

We went to Loop in Islington, which seemed a good idea at the time as John Lewis and Liberty are not amazing for masculine coloured chunky wools.

Jon chose the wool, it is Misti Alpaca Chunky in colourway M620. It was a bit pricey at £15 a ball, but according to how much yarn you need according to the knitting pattern, it should have been easy to do from one ball. So that doesn’t work out too bad for a luxury hat (it’s 100% baby alpaca)

Of course I needed more than one ball. Luckily it was by a respectable amount rather than like one row or something, but it’s now a £30 hat. & my knitting is not up to the quality needed for £30 hats. Grrrr!

It has also come up a bit larger on the top bit than my other two versions. The band is ok and the right size, but I think with it being slightly thicker yarn it’s a fatter hat than the other two were. Luckily Jon likes this, & likes the hat, so it’s all good. & he’s accidentally chosen a stunningly fashionable colour, so he’s really happy.

Next up for knitting is a pair of wristlets and a neckband for me out of Cascade heather, am a little apprehensive about this as it will be my first time playing with cable since I took knitting lessons.

In other satisfied customer news, heres a picture of my Mum in the Tilly and the Buttons Coco dress I made her in summer…..


Mum really likes it.& now she is thinking of getting into sewing again (she was awesome in the 70’s) to make her own versions.

Anyway, I’m aiming to have the dress I’m working on finished for Halloween, so I shouldn’t be absent for as long a time next post. 

2 shades of grey

So actually I’ve been quiet on here, but fairly busy with sewing.

I’ve finally finished my Colette Patterns Moneta dress. I’m reasonably impressed, it was easy to sew and all, and this being my first time making it I followed the instructions pretty much to the letter.

However I was much concerned by there being no instruction to stabilise the neckline. & indeed the neckline on mine is somewhat lower cut than on a lot of the versions on the internet (though it does seem to be more of an issue with the plus size pattern range looking at peoples photos, than with the standard sizes.) If I make this again I’m going to have a good look round for pattern hacks on the internet for ideas how to stabilise it better.

Part of the issue may be the fabric I chose though, the jersey I used was terribly soft but somewhat drapey and stretchy and a little bit see through. One of the things I’ve noticed about high street clothes over the past couple of years or so, is that since cotton prices went up a few years ago, instead of putting prices up the way you’d expect them to, the stores have shifted to using slightly thinner cotton in their jersey fabric. this is noticeable on the street, but also on the local market store, as they get samples from the hIghstreet stores design studios. Luckily I have a massive stash of all different types of jersey some going several years back, but the piece I used for this dress is a tiny bit thin and stretchy for my liking, and that reflects in the low neckline.

I actually quite like the neckline though, it looks deliberate and super off the shoulder necklines are in fashion right now, so its really not a problem.

Anyway, photos…..

 

The necklace in the photo is  from Curiology & says Witch. Their site is down for a few weeks at the moment, so I can’t add a link, but I am completely obsessed with their jewellery, I have three pieces. I love the fact they can make an fairly normal outfit instantly and casually goth.

The other thing I made this month was a dress for my Mum for her birthday. She really liked my versions (here & here) of Tilly & the Buttons Coco dress, so when I found some grey sweatshirting down the market stall, I thought it would be nice to make her one as well. (It also helped that there was a sale on some of the patterns, so my Mum has her own custom size one now, which is just as well as she goes across 3 sizes, which is a nightmare!)

Anyway, here it is, hanging on the door of my wardrobe before I sent it to Mum, due to the continuing heatwave I haven’t managed to get any pictures of her wearing it yet.

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Anyway, future sewing plans are somewhat up in the air at the moment. Looks like there will be a winter version of the Goblin Kings Ball, we may well be going to the SciFi Weekender next year, & I’m determined to actually finish my xmas lolita dress, so theres lots of fancy sewing coming up, in amongst the less exciting but still necessary job of padding out my everyday wardrobe. So I’ve got a schedule again. & I really need to be getting on with things. Eeeek!