Book: The Singer Sewing Book

A few weeks ago The Boyfriend spotted this book in the charity shop he works in and he, very kindly, bought it for me (for a couple of £s I think!) and it’s great! It covers every technique you could possibly need. I slightly assume that home sewers had books like this in the 50s and 60s to tell them how to do the things that the pattern instructions don’t explain?!

I love, love, love the poetry of this dedication. And I wish I’d called my blog ‘a happy purpose’!

I’ve seen some other similar posts on facebook about how to plan for your sewing time by making sure your dinner is prepared before you start and you’ve done your hair and make-up ready for when your husband gets home and there’s a little of that here, but I ike the practical tips of making a date with yourself to sew (with or without friends) and planning ahead of time what you’re going to make.

I like this little guide about the different number of stitches each type of fabric needs, and which needle to use.

There are colour wheels to tell you which colours would suit you depending on your hair colour.

This is my one – I assume I’m a medium brown. It’s kind of accurate – for my blue-grey eyes I should go for 7, 9-16 and all us medium browns can wear 5 & 6 and beige, ivory and maroon. This at least includes all the blues, including turquoise which is one of the colours that makes me look the least ill. I’m thinking of adding maroon/burgundy to my palette for the Winter (though I doubt I’ll get around to it!).

This bit is a bit dubious – I’m not sure I buy into the idea that each body type has specific shapes and types of clothes they suit. I think everyone should wear what they want. Though this was written in the 50s and maybe it’s in the context of making fit adjustments.

Speaking of fit adjustments, there is a whole section on making pattern adjustments – I definitely need to get better at making adjustments, then transferring any adjustments I do make onto the flat pattern, so I think this section should be really useful.

This book covers everything you could think of – and probably some things you woulnd’t think of! There;s a section on basting and markings.

Darts and tucks.

Gathering, shirring and ruffling.

Pleats and insets.

There are tips on pressing as you sew – one of the things that helps makes look much more professional.

Seams and seam finishes.

A whole section on every sewist’s favourite thing – pockets!

Neck openings and collars.

All the kinds of sleeves you could think of.

Belts and belt loops.

This section on ‘tailoring well done’ will hopefully come in handy with my suit refashion and if I ever get around to making a coat.

This is a section I would not have thought of – cording, tubing and self-trimming.

At the end of the book is a series of fashion illustrations, demonstrating some of the techniques covered in the book.

And no book like this would be complete without a section on hand stitching!

I’m hoping this section will come in handy – it tells you how to mend things, including darning holes. I’m trying to become a bit more conscious of how I consume things and extending the life of garments by being able to mend them is definitely a step in the right direction.

I do usually google things when I’m not sure of how to do them, but I think a book like this does have a place still, as it can tell you about techniques you may not have known existing – you can’t google how to do something if you don’t know it’s a thing!

 

It’s also nice to own an old sewing book, too, and to see that things really haven’t changed very much; the way my Grandma sewed a french seam is the same way I would sew a french seam. I like the continuity of sewing and that those of us that do it now are continuing something that has been done by generations of women before – women who would prepare pudding before sitting down to sew!

Save

Atelier Brunette Collins Top

Back in August, when it was still kind of warm (though some of October has been unseasonably warm!) I made another Collins Top by In The Folds. I really love this top, and the swingy shape of it. My first one was definitely one of the most comfortable things in my wardrobe when we had a heat wave! I might try the version with sleeves for Winter. Sadly because September went pretty cold, I haven’t worn this top yet apart from to take these rather blurry photos. But it will be waiting for my next Summer!

The fabric is some cotton from Atelier Brunette, from Sew Over It. They don’t still have it in stock, sadly. I had admired Atelier Brunette fabrics for quite a while, though they were always a little out of my budget. The I decided to have a little splurge a few months back and ordered either 1m or 1.5m, thinking I could squeeze a sleeveless top out of it for the Summer. I have to confess I was a little disappointed with the fabric, because it is a little see-through and not as soft as I had expected. Maybe it will soften with repeated washes and wears?

I used a yellow button from my stash and as with my first version, I made a rookie error. I was clipping a seam and cut through the stitches, making a little hole – perhaps this pattern is cursed, even though I love it?! I managed to sew the little hole up with some zig-zag stitches – the hole wasn’t as bad as the overlocker hole I made in my first version!

Love the high-low hem! Speaking of the hem, I just turned this one up, without using the bias tape method I did on my first one. It seemed to work fine, as this cotton has a little give, so there weren’t any massive puckers, as I had feared!

I can’t wait until next Summer so I can wear this top! Or maybe I should move somewhere warm!? Any suggestions? 😉

 

 

Designer Inspiration: Cristóbal Balenciaga

A couple of weekends ago (the day after I went to the Great British Sewing Bee Live), I went with my Aunt to the Balenciaga exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. It was a Birthday celebration for my Aunt, but I really wanted to go too, so win win! Fair warning, this will be a very photo-heavy post. Also I can’t remember all the things I read in the exhibition, so my comments may be few and far between! I’m definitely thinking I want to buy the book of the exhibition because I bet there is tonnes more information in there!

Anyway, here we go…….

His earlier clothes definitely had a Spanish influence, from his roots. I particularly love the matador-inspired jacket, above.

I feel like you could find this pink flowery dress on the high street this year! It has the statement sleeves that are everywhere at the moment (and which I’m coming around to!).

Lace was definitely something that popped up quite a few times – he was well-known for using lace, and slightly rejuvenating its reputation and making it cutting edge again.

This was definitely one of my favourite pieces – and I loved how they had x-rays of the garments so show all of the structure going on underneath what looks like an effortless, easy dress. They had a few dresses where they had a recreation, the x-ray and a video showing how the garment came together.

Love, love, love the fashion sketches!

I took a video of this dress because it was constantly rotating that that’s the only way to full see it all!

I kind of want to have a go at recreating this one! Maybe one day…..

This cape/jacket is amazing! I took a photo of the accompanying blurb so I’d remember how it  works – there are hidden ribbons underneath all of the pleats to hold them in place. Otherwise you wouldn’t be able to ever put your arms down!

This is a recreation of an original which was black and impossible to photograph! It’s a bit bonkers, but I kind of love it.

This might be my absolute favourite one – again the original was black so my photos of it didn’t really come out, especially with the reflections from the glass to contend with. This recreation was done by Claire-Louise Hardie of Great British Sewing Bee fame.

I love how you can see there is a separate sort of binding on the hem, which you couldn’t really see in the black original. There was a video showing how this one was constructed, and I thought it would be on the V & A facebook page (as I didn’t get a chance to video the video) but it’s not there, sorry! It’s all one piece of fabric and the only seams are on the shoulders. It boggles my mind how that even works!

If my memory serves, this one shows the influence of Japanese fashion on Balenciaga, in the form of the kimono-style belt.

This is another one there they show all of the engineering underneath what looks like a simple shaped dress! The corset is inside out so you can see all of the boning in there.

This red dress had to be one of the most bonkers ones to see the construction of! It’s tied underneath to the wearer’s knees!

The video of how this one works is online, and is definitely worth a look!

Fabric choice is definitely key in so many of Balenciaga’s designs, and especially this one.

I didn’t know this, but he also made a bunch of really cool hats!

Throughout the exhibition there were photos of the original buyers wearing the designs that you were looking at, which I really liked. It made them seem like real clothes (and hats), that people actually wore, and not things just to be revered – though it’s great that so many of them survive, and in such great condition.

After the hats was a whole section on embellishments, which was AMAZING! I naively never think about the fact that designers in the past, and now, make their own textiles, by embroidering/embellishing/painting the fabric, I always think they bought the fabric like that and just cut it cleverly, but of course, that isn’t the case! This beading is amazing!

This ombre jacket/dress was particularly amazing because there was a video showing how the beading etc was done – it was recreated by the couture embroidery house Lesage.

This is the recreated piece of beading and embroidery. I would definitely recommend watching the video, least of all because it’s all done upside down, where the right side of the fabric is on the bottom of the frame. And the person does it so quickly, it’s mind-boggling!

This dress was all hand-embroidered! And the pieces were all marked out and only the pattern pieces were embroidered so as not to waste time embroidering bits that would be cut off, but it was done when the fabric was still flat, before the dress was assembled. The shape of this dress also is amazing – teeny tiny waste!

I strangely love the feather sleeves on this one, even though it’s a bit mad!

All of the flowers on this outfit were hand painted! The craftsmanship involved in this level of fashion is truly amazing! Makes it seem almost worth the crazy price tags!

The above suit definitely seems pretty tame compared to most other things in the exhibition, but I love how they displayed the tailoring tools, below. I had no idea the tracing wheel had been around that long!

This is one of the more famous dresses, I think, and it’s on the cover of the book of the exhibition. I love how well the brooch goes with the dress – there are also bejewelled shoulder straps, though it was tough to get high enough to take a photo!

Classic 60s shift/sack dress. Not sure about the hat though……

This part of the exhibition was definitely more about wearable clothes that he made for his many wealthy clients.

I love the scalloped coat, which was made for Ava Gardner.

 

On the first floor of the exhibition space were loads of designed influenced or inspired by Balenciaga. I was particularly exited to see this dress, worn by Tilda Swinton, which I wrote about in my post about why I love her! I can’t remember who designed it, let me know in the comments if you know! (I should have taken notes!)

Also very excited to see this Courreges coat, which I posted a photo of in my post about him! Courreges studied under Balenciaga, so it makes sense he was represented here!

This one has a clear inspiration, from a garment in the other part of the exhibition!

I weirdly love this look, and I’m not sure why. The trousers are totally wearable and not too out-there, but I love the whole thing.  Especially the shoes.

Bonkers but amazing!

This was definitely one of my favourite inspiration designs, it looks kind of like a ship.

And it’s slightly pointed at the front!

The beading on this one is amazing!

This seems to be the evolution of the trapeze shapes Balenciaga played with. I really like the strapping details on the back.

I really like this silver and black version of the pink ombre one.

This one is an even more crazy version of the one on the cover of the book.

The pink dress with the statement sleeves….

…which has a zip all the way down the back.

This tube-y dress was by a Japanese designer, I think, who plays with zero-waste fashion and using as few seams as possible. I’m keen to start looking into zero-waste sewing/fashion, so I found this really inspiring.

Phew! There we go! I definitely want to have a go at recreating some of these looks. Which is your favourite? Do you hate the more shapeless looks?

 

 

Save

August (& September) Makes and October Plans

I’m back from my blogging break. Thank you to everyone who left me a message on my last post. It’s lovely to know there are people out there who are so nice and caring. Sorry I didn’t reply – I didn’t really know what to say.

I ended up not making much in September – I was working on an embroidery thing for my Aunt, who I made the meme cushion for and I wasn’t at home for quite a few days so I didn’t sew any clothes, but I did have some sewing fun at the Great British Sewing Bee Live and seeing the Balenciaga exhibition at the V & A museum – there will be full posts on each of these things (including my stash from the GBSB live!) coming up soon.

So my makes are from August. You’ve already seen the items that took up most of August – my outfit for the New Craft House Summer Party, including shoes! By the way, they’re throwing a Winter Party on December 9th. You should all definitely book tickets – I’ve already booked mine, to defend my ‘best outfit’ title! 😉

The only other thing I made was another Collins Top – I love my first one so much I made another over the bank holiday weekend……and then the weather went really cold so I haven’t worn it yet, boo!

And now onto my plans for October (and probably November too, to be honest!).

I really definitely want to make my 2 pairs of jeans, which I already have fabric for, made by the end of November. I want to make one pair in October, but I haven’t decided which pair yet.

I’ve had this coral Anderson Blouse cut out for a couple of months, and now it’s getting colder, I do need some more nice long sleeved tops for work, so this is first on my list to make – hopefully I’ll make it this weekend.

I bought this amazing mustard graphic jersey from Fabrics Galore a couple of months ago (they’re sadly out of stock, but they do have it in a grey colourway) and I’ve decided it might be perfect for an Ebony Dress – I’m not sure I’ve got enough, so if not it will probably be a Marianne Dress, with the long sleeves.

If you can’t tell, I’m craving snuggly jersey dresses now it’s getting colder. I got this stripey jersey, which is pretty thick, from What Katie Sews’s destash sale and I’m hoping there is enough to make an In The Folds Jersey Dress as I like my electric blue one so much. I might shorten it a bit, though, as it is pretty long!

The third dress on my list is the Sew Over It Nancy Dress out of this amazing crowd print viscose which I bought at the same time as the mustard jersey above. Fabrics Galore still have this one in stock!

My final plan for the next month or 2 is to at least cut out the Carolyn Pyjamas in this amazing boaty Liberty print fabric my friend gave me a few months ago. Now it’s getting cold, I find I want some lovely snuggly pyjamas – a lot of my ready to wear clothes, including pyjamas, are getting a bit worn out now but I’m reluctant to buy replacements, so I’m going to try to replace the things I still wear that I’ve bought with versions I’ve made.

The one thing I really absolutely must make is my suit refashion for the refashioners. This is my suit. It actually belonged to my dad – I asked my mum if I could have it a couple of months ago, and now it definitely feels more poignant to be refashioning one of my dad’s suits. I think I’ll ‘just’ make it into a suit that fits me as I don’t have one, and I figure I can wear the trousers and the jacket separately at work if I don’t want to be as smart as wearing a full suit!

What are your sewing plans for Autumn and are you joining in with the refashioners this year?

Save

Save

 

 

 

Save

Blogging break

So I thought I would pop on here to let you know (if anyone’s still reading!) that I’m taking a bit of a break from the blog – as you may have already guessed!

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen that my father died 2 weeks ago (on September 2nd). He had been ill for several years with a rare degenerative brain disease called Corticobasal Degeneration. He had also had kidney cancer a couple of years ago (almost 3 actually, now I think about it) and at the end of last year they discovered the cancer had come back, but this time in his lungs. It was decided not to treat the cancer this time as his system had weakened significantly and it felt that it wouldn’t be in his best interest. I saw him in July and he looked really ill then, and he steadily declined over the Summer. It is, obviously, sad but at the same time there is some relief that his suffering is over.

As I’m sure you can understand, writing about the things I’ve made would take energy I just don’t have at the moment. I hope to be back in October, and I hope there are some people still out there when I return! I am still making things, so hopefully I’ll have some fun things to share.