Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Kate's Suit

I'm going to harp on again about the lack of actual, real life fabric shops where I live..... but for some strange reason we have tonnes and tonnes of curtain fabric shops - I mean hundreds of them! My focus on sewing must be somewhat different from the general population of Northern Ireland who regard what hangs over their windows more important than what they hang on their backs. Anyway, I decided if that was my only choice of fabric shopping then I was going to use it..... the following outfit is made entirely from curtain fabric.
I've no idea of fabric content, as curtains wouldn't be washed as often as clothes and there is an assumption that they are dry-cleaned, there are rarely any care labels, but it looks like a linen: quite a coarse weave, slight sheen and in an light golden sand, lineny-type of colour. I stood in the shop and scrunched this fabric up as much as possible until a sales assistant came over to ask if she "Could help?". I explained that I was doing a wrinkle test. Her face told me I shouldn't ask for a flame test......
So I bought 2m at £9.99 - not the cheapest garment cloth but is actually, surprisingly, wrinkle resistant, and takes a good crease for a pair of trousers for Kate in SWAP '13.
The pattern is TNT Vogue 8751. Really, I can't believe this myself - I cut out a 14 and sew it! No messing about, no alterations, no muslin - and they're great trousers too.

Side pockets, wide legged, high waisted, deep waist-band - I think this might be my fifth pair. I love them. Isn't it great when you find a pattern that just works? As an added insurance against excess wrinkling I also lined this pair to calf length (that's all the lining fabric I had).
Here's another post I've made about this pattern - white linen.

But in this case it wasn't just the pattern that worked but the fabric too. It frays quite a lot - a hazard of using furnishing fabrics - but a few zig-zag stitches along the seams soon sorts that out. I was so enamoured with this cloth that I returned to buy more for a matching shirt - guess who was serving that day too?
I bought another few metres  to make Vogue 1246.

This is a shirt / jacket thing. 
The shirt has interesting details on the sleeve hems; a V held in place with a working button. 
The front can be worn open or closed over, and there is a little bit of interest at the back with a string tie - your choice to wear loose or fitted, even tied in front. The single fastening on the front is secure enough to hold the shirt closed and decent.

Single button closure

 The sleeve heads are bias bound with a bit of left over patterned silk which really helps as this is the queen of fraying fabrics. All the inside seams were finished too by pressing over the seam allowance and sewing flat - then, of course, another pressing.

So here's everything together......

 Just in case you thought spring had sprung and there was heat in the sunshine - we still have snow on the ground!

So back inside, 'cause it's freezing.......

I also like the outfit with a white shirt underneath - to break up the single head to toe colour and to add another layer in these freezing temperatures.

I had my reservations about this shirt - while I love the Laganlook style and I love wearing loose baggy shirts and jumpers, I am gradually realising that I look better (wee bit slimmer) in fitted (not tight) clothes. Opinions please... is this shirt a keeper?

So Katherine has now three items to wear in SWAP '13 - starting to catch up with Audrey but only one month to complete the rest!!!!

Thursday, 21 March 2013

What's Better than....?

A white shirt......

With statement buttons....

Made in pristine Oxford cotton from Vogue Very (very) Easy 8708 - OOP and only minor modifications.

And dark blue tailor tacks sewn into the collar!!!!!!!

But is part of SWAP '13 and the first for Kate.
Long enough to hid the behind but shirt-tailed to look tailored when worn loose.

Trousers are also sewn for Kate and will be publicised soon when I have another shirt to match completed. 

Sunday, 17 March 2013

For your Erudition - EH

I'm in a quandary - I don't know where to start with this month's designer - do we even label her as a designer? Most certainly prolific, popular, perfectionist and prominent - and so much more besides, but never had her own design house, did not produce clothes for the mass market nor the wealthy, but for a very, very select few.

For almost six decades, starting in the 1920s Edith Head defined the cinematic stylings of Hollywood, and hence influencing each and every one of us, our mothers, grandmothers and beyond. She become chief designer at Paramount within only five years of blagging her way in  — the first woman to hold the position. She worked on more than 1,100 films, wrote two seminary style books, and became a style icon in her own right. You gotta love a woman who develops and sticks to her own design ethic regardless of the tumultuous fashion shifts happening around her.

Her first book The Dress Doctor (1959) was as much a autobiography as an insight into consultations with Hollywood actresses from Clara Bow to Audrey Hepburn.  

She saw her role as a Hollywood costume designer as a doctor, altering clothes to fit the needs and personality of a "patient"; aiming to (heal) satisfy the stars, who were all "difficult to dress." while at the same time fulfilling the demands of the director and the film's period setting. There were suggestions in the book for assessing and dressing various body types, for planning to shop by constructing a "grocery list" of a seasonal wardrobe, the importance of appropriate accessories and use of colour.

These are all standard procedures nowadays, even if we don't always obey them, but Edith was the first to directly address Ms Average and as such became a well-known fashion authority for the American woman in the mid 20th century.

Edith's second, and probably more famous book, How to Dress for Success set out in prescriptive detail what to wear and when; how to dress to get a man and a job; how to accessorise and was chock full of snippets of advice and guidance. The modern day Trinny & Susanna. 

She married twice herself, her first husband being a young love from university. Her second husband was an architect and a keeper. 

Through her books, writings and radio, and later, television interviews she became an accepted advisor of fashion culture and style.  Aiming for a shift in American's fashion influences from the Paris couture houses to Hollywood Head critiqued and advised individual women on dress sense and saw it as "my chance to turn America into a country of neat and natty women, women with assurance, women who knew they looked right". 

Of course, Givenchy designed the clothes for Audrey Hepburn but in the background was Edith ensuring that that they fitted the atheistic of the film and the viewing public. Costume design has to add to but not detract from the movie and it's a fine balance that Edith managed to perfect.

Who wouldn't want to wear Grace Kelly's green suit in Rear Window? And subsequently believe that they would look like her and have her life? Such is the power of Hollywood.

Edith went on to have 35 Oscar nominations and 8 wins, for films including 'All About Eve' (1949), 'Samson and Delilah' (1949), 'Roman Holiday' (1953), 'Sabrina' (1954) and 'The Sting' (1973). These remain records for both the Costume Design category and for any woman in any category in the Academy Awards. But she worked tirelessly behind the scenes too: designing for and dressing the stars, the actual ceremony production and artistic direction.

As if she didn't have enough to do, Edith also, designed patterns for the home sewer, so we  too could live the Hollywood dream.

She worked right up until 4 days before her death in 1981 when she was designing the costumes for Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid.

Maybe she is a mere copier of the fashions emanating from Paris and didn't produce anything original, she nonetheless allowed millions of women globally to see themselves as Tippi, Audrey and Elizabeth, and many, many others for many years.

So, I suppose in honour on International Women's Day this week - I nominate Ms Edith Head: designer to the stars and builder of dreams for ordinary women.

I leave you with the best advice I've yet to come across -

Don't let your clothes be fitted too tightly. Even a perfect figure looks better if it doesn't resemble a sausage. Only bathing suits should "fit tight."

Unless, of course, you're designing for superheroes.....

On a final and totally unrelated note but significantly related to today's date - 

God bless, or who ever you see as holding your destiny in their palms, I trust they will look favourably upon your life.
The choir sang this this morning and I must admit, hard nut that I am, I had tears in my eyes.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Bag o' Linton!

With my recent order from Linton Tweeds I also received a little package of fabric samples. Believe me I was tempted, but so far have resisted. I remembered that I had ordered some samples from them a few years ago and rummaged around the various drawers and cupboards to find the brown envelope that contained the precious tweeds.

Each sample package contains the very special tweeds and boucles they make for the big design houses along with plain dyed wool crepes to match.

I laid out all the samples on the sewing table and came to the quite realistic conclusion that this would make a fab patchwork. I started sewing them together.

I am the first to admit that patchwork is not an interest nor a passion of mine, and added to the fact that each sample was a slightly different size, fabric content and weight, did not allow for an easy project. But heck, when has that ever stopped me?

Once sewed together I had the dilemma of what to make from the cloth. Cushion covers were an obvious choice but I knew DH would not approve - he's very particular about home decor! But it was too good to not use.

I searched the internet for ideas and settled on a handbag. Most of the sites were the traditional quilting methods etc, but not to be put off by quilters' precision and colour matching skills I selected this free bag - I love hand drawn patterns.

Thanks so much Melissa and though this bag was released in 2006 - it still has a place in today's world.

Melissa's tutorial has pictures and sketches and finished product - just what you want, when you don't know what you're doing.

My version is a little different from Melissa's original but pays homage to her pattern. As such I haven't created a photo tutorial  of my process but hopefully you will see how it developed.

I dug out some fine cerise pink wool that has been hanging around for about 20 yrs. It's leftovers and not enough to make a garment from- about 1/2 m but too good to throw away. This project was perfect for using it up.

This is the bag lining with inside pockets for phone and other stuff.

Because the Linton tweed is loosely woven and liable to stretch, I added a wide grosgrain ribbon in the shoulder strap to try and keep the shape and length.

Eventually, all fell into place.

I created an outside welt pocket with a old jeans zip as closure to hold keys and the like. I made the welt too big and had to pad it out with more Linton wool crepe. Live and learn.....

For security I sewed a 18" bright pink zip to close the bag entirely. I have no idea what a bright pink 18" zip was doing in my notions drawer - obviously the fairies put it there 'cause I didn't.

Those lovely people at Linton's also sent a keyring with the recent order and I've used this as a ring pull on the zip - Linton fabrics with a Linton badge!

When I turn the bag around there's a slightly different colour variation.

What I like best is the idea that some people in the world are walking around with thousands of pounds (dollars /  Euro) worth of clothes made from these fabrics and I've got a freebie patchwork bag made from the same stuff - ain't life fair sometimes?