Friday, 27 September 2013

A Sewing Epiphany?

Close Up on Presser Foot Sewing Over Stitch Starter and Onto Fabric

Image sourced from HERE

Now I know this may not be news to many of you, and you may already subscribe to the Craftsy Blog and will therefore have seen this recently, but I thought I would share it here just in case it might help someone else.

This has to be one of the things that I find most frustrating and annoying when sewing with a lightweight fabric (such as chiffon or silk). You spend so much time and care to prepare your fabric, using special pins, cutting it out sandwiched between two layers of tissue paper, changing your needle…and then you put the fabric under the sewing machine foot, press the pedal down and watch the fabric get eaten up by the machine! I can tell you this has definitely caused the most swearing and screaming to come out of my sewing room over anything else!

I did learn the trick about holding onto the needle thread and bobbin thread before you start sewing, and quite often that does it, but not always. So when I read about using a Stitch Starter on the Craftsy Blog, it honestly felt like an epiphany. It’s so simple but solves the problem – and it works on bulky fabric too (to avoid that horrible jamming and birds nest worth of thread accumulating on the underside of your fabric! I’m really excited to give it a try – and I’m currently working with some very misbehaving slinky fabric so it’s perfect timing.

If you are interested in finding out more about a Stitch Starter check out this post.

I also see that the Coletterie has just written a post about sewing with delicate fabrics which might also be useful.

Disclaimer: I have just realised that this post sounds like I’m getting something from Craftsy, but I’m not and they haven’t contacted me, I just wanted to share the information!

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Thoughts on sewing and weight change


Firstly, can I just send out a massive ‘thank you’ to all the wonderful people who left such lovely comments on the post on my wedding reception dress – they made my day/week/month!

Secondly, how awesome are those Christian Louboutin tape measure shoes, in a kind of OTT-I’m-a-little-too-obsessed-with-sewing kind of way…

OK, now onto the topic of this post!


So, I’ve been back from my honeymoon for about two months now…and while I have actually been doing a little bit of sewing, to be honest, my heart is not in it. You see, I think I may be the first bride in the history of weddings who actually put ON weight before her wedding! In fact, I’ll let you in on a little secret. When I came back from my honeymoon I had to go out and buy some new clothes to wear to work that would hide my belly for fear that I would start a rumour that I was pregnant – yes honestly, I had developed a little pot that looked like a bit of a baby bump!!!

Actually, I’ve noticed that since I’ve hit my 30’s it’s not as easy staying in shape as it used to be (yes, we’ve all heard that before – well I can confirm that it is true!), and also…living in a happy stable relationship (not complaining) has also been bad for my waistline.

Because of that, i haven’t really sewn as much as I used to. I keep looking through all my lovely fabric and daydreaming about what I’m going to turn it into (come on, I know you do it too!), and then I’ll fold it up and put it away, saying that I’ll make that dress/skirt/top when I’m back to my old weight. But I’ve been doing that for over a year now – it’s not good!

Now I know I’m not overweight, so please don’t be giving off to me about complaining about my size. But I think it’s all relative to what you are used to. I’m not overweight, but I am bigger than I used to be. My clothes tell me so. For example – you may remember my pink scallop skirt:

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In the blog post I mentioned that it actually ended up being slightly too big and didn’t sit at my waist. I thought about unpicking it and taking it in, but I didn’t (see, I told you I don’t like doing alterations!). Well, it turned out to be a good thing that I didn’t take it in as it now fits my waist perfectly…and it’s perhaps a wee bit tight on the thighs!

So what do you think would be the best approach? Hold off on sewing clothes and focus whole-heartedly at getting back to my old weight/size, or just start cutting into that gorgeous fabric and use it already? I don’t know! I’m inclined to lean towards the first approach. I don’t like doing alterations, so if I make clothes for my current size I’m going to be left with some lovely homemade clothes that later on won’t fit me, and I’ll never get around to taking in. I find that thought such a shame because ideally I like to think that what I make will be in my wardrobe rotation for as long as possible – classic pieces so to speak. And plus, if my mind is of the opinion that I WILL loose the weight, then I’m not as inclined to put so much effort into my makes, if I know I won’t get an awful lot of use out of them, and then that partly defeats another reason I make clothes – to make something beautiful that I’m proud of!

What are your thoughts on this?

Friday, 6 September 2013

DIY I Do : My Wedding Reception Dress!

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Well, we had the inspiration post and the muslin post - and finally here is my big reveal!

As I mentioned in the previous posts, I decided that since I had saved money on my main wedding dress, and because it was hard/near impossible to bustle, I would have a go at making a fun and flirty evening/reception dress for my wedding day. 

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I based the dress on the gorgeous Cambie pattern by Sewaholic, but adjusted it to be strapless. This meant that I had to introduce inner construction details such as boning and a waist stay. I used skills that I had learnt from Gerties Craftsy Bombshell Dress course as well as the Susan Khalje Couture Dress course.

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Because Gertie is an advocate for the spiral steel boning and I had previously used it in my Bombshell dress (which I still haven't blogged!!) I thought I should stick with what I knew and use it for this dress. It takes a fair bit of force and fiddling to cut the strips…and I had to raid my husbands tools box:

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…but it's totally worth it as the freedom of movement you get from them is great.

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I decided to bring in the blue theme and used a navy blue grosgrain ribbon for my waist stay. I probably should have sewed it in with matching thread - but I was actually working on this until the day before and I think by that time I was just like "I DON'T CARE JUST GET IT DONE"!!! But that aside, the waist stay was an absolute necessity to get the dress zipped up - it holds the dress in place and takes the weight off the zip.

The main dress was made up of a beautiful ivory silk dupion that my mum picked up at a market in Spain for €5/m - yes you read that right, €5 PER METER for real silk dupion!!! The english lady who ran the stall at the market is a retired bridal dressmaker and was selling off all her stash. I think I got my mum to buy about 5m of the ivory for me because at the time I still thought I might be making my main wedding dress, which would have been full-length. So I have quite a bit left in my stash…what to do with it??!!! I'm contemplating trying to dye some and see what it's like. Anyway, I'm getting off track here.

I added in some couture techniques to this dress, such as underlining the silk dupion with silk organza and also basting on all the sewing lines. This was the first time I had worked with silk organza and I loved it. It's such a lovely fabric to work with and gave a little bit extra body to the dupion, which was quite a thin fabric. The dress was lined in the most gorgeously soft and flow-y lining that I bought online at Truro Fabrics. It was more than I normally spend on lining, but em...I recon you can afford to splurge when it's your wedding dress!

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This is a close up shot of the zip guard that I sewed in with a pick stitch. Again, just another little couture feature. The zip itself was actually an invisible zip which I thought would suit the style of dress better due to the tulle overlay I was doing.

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I had a lot of deliberation about how I was going to do the asymmetrical polka dot tulle detail. I initially wanted to build it into the dress, but I obviously didn't have a pattern piece for the tulle and would have had to drape it on me, before the bodice was attached to the skirt - and physically it was impossible. So I decided to make a sort of sash/belt with the tulle attached to it. The draping for this took AGES and was really difficult to get right. It also didn't help that I was doing this the week before the wedding - talk about pressure!!!

I also decided to make the sash out of the same coral silk that the bridesmaids sashes were made from. I realised this erred on the side of bridesmaid in itself, but as soon as draped the coral silk around the dress I fell in love and it just had to be! Plus I asked my florist to give me a Coral Charm peony to pin into my hair - so it tied together with the sash colour perfectly. 

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The skirt was made by cutting the full style Cambie skirt (minus pockets - I was tempted, but due to the tulle, decided against it…but I do love Wedding dresses with pockets!) out of both the dupion and the tulle and treating as one layer. Under this I had another layer of very fine plain tulle and then to the lining I sewed two rows of stiff gathered tulle to create volume. This is also how I made the flower girl's dresses.

The dress was a lot of fun to wear and to dance in and it was great seeing people's reactions when I came downstairs in a new dress for the evening! The added bonus was that it really showed off my beautiful Jimmy Choo shoes, which up until then had been rather hidden!

I'll leave you with a few professional photos from our mini couples session once I changed dresses (we snuck out during dessert to take these in an abandoned greenhouse/yard at our wedding location) and some of the dancing:

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