Harry Potter Tote Bag

Just a quick one to share the second of 2 successful Christmas presents I made this year (both for my second Christmas with my friends in January). I say ‘successful’ because after making 4 skirts for my sister last Christmas (1, 2, 3, 4) I cut out another Grainline Moss skirt from the leftover red corduroy from the red Delphine skirt but I forgot that last year I sewed it with a reduced seam allowance, so it didn’t fit.

Anyway, back to the successful make…..my friends and I do secret santa each year (though we buy for 2 people and not just one) because one year there were probably around 8 of us (the number changes as partners change and 2 children have been born since the tradition started!) and so all of us buying for everyone else meant a slightly obscene number of presents. Plus we all fly up to Scotland each year now, so anything that reduced the baggage allowance has got to be a good thing! One of the people I drew was the girlfriend of one of the guys in our group, who I had not met yet (though she turned out to be lovely, so that’s good!) so I did what anyone would do in my situation – some facebook stalking!

I discovered that they had been to see a couple of musicals, they’ve travelled quite a bit and then I saw that they had been to the Harry Potter Studio Tour and since I had, funnily enough, started re-reading all the books around the time I had to make a present I thought I would make a Harry Potter themed tote bag. Making things for someone you’ve never met is always going to be a bit of a gamble, but I thought a tote bag is always useful even if the design misses the mark.

I’m pretty sure I copied this design from something I saw on Etsy when I was looking for something to buy, before I’d had the thought to make something.

I used my own tutorial, which I wrote quite a long time ago now, for the dimensions of the pieces. I used french seams for strength and used medium weight calico from my local sewing shop. I used a narrow small stitch of zig zag to sew on the glasses and the scar – I looked for some felt in my stash but I didn’t have enough. I could probably have used some jersey, but I came across this cotton first and doubled it so it wouldn’t be see-through.

I reinforced the straps, as I have done with each previous tote I’ve made as I feel like one of the worst things would be for the straps to come off when someone was carrying some heavy shopping home!

This is a pretty quick post, really, as there isn’t much to say about a tote bag!

Have you ever made a present for someone you’ve not yet met? How did it go down? Did you find it as stressful as I did?!

p.s. I’m already on Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – I only read 2 books the whole of last year, so I’m close to doubling that in January!)

Book: Balenciaga – Shaping Fashion

After I loved the Balenciaga exhibition at the V & A, I had to fight not to buy myself the book of the exhibition as I didn’t really NEED to carry it home from London! And then I was very fortunate to receive a copy for my birthday from The Boyfriend’s parents. And it’s definitely a good reminder of all the amazing clothes in the exhibition.

I would definitely recommend going to see the exhibition if you’re able to – it closes on February 18th. But if you can’t make it, then I would definitely recommend the book. I haven’t had a chance to read much of the words yet, but even having it for the pictures, it would still be worth it!

My mind is still blown by this beading!

I’m not entirely sure I knew what Balenciaga looked like until I looked through this book!

Kind of tempted to try to recreate this coat, for the lols!

In my whole life I don’t think I would ever get this good at embroidery!

I think I love this hat?!

This coat was in the exhibition – the engineering of it still amazes me. There are ribbons on the inside to hold everything together, but it looks so effortless it looks like it’s just draped on the model.

I LOVE this coat. Another recreation to add to the list….

This beading is mind-blowing.

This is a page of swatches of different fabrics and colours from 1967 – a sheet like this was made for each season to easily keep track of what was what and which model was wearing each outfit.

Although I love Balenciaga’s more out-there designs, I also love his more wearable pieces, like this tweed suit. I love the shape of the collar.

The House of Balenciaga had a ginormous building in Paris, which was featured in French Vogue when they included maps of all the big couture houses.

I really love this coat – it’s made of mohair and was described by British Vogue as ‘almost the equivalent of bubble bath in froth’. I would love to know what colour it is – unless it’s creamy white like the froth?

You can definitely see Balenciaga’s Spanish roots in this dress on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar.

This dress is really pretty and was a commission for a specific client.

And I find it even more amazing when you see what’s going on underneath the seemingly simple silhouette on the outside – there’s a whole corset and underwear inside the dress to give the wearer support.

Let’s not forget Balenciaga designed cabin crew uniforms, for Air France.

This is a semi-circular coat with rows and rows and rows of flounced lace attached to a net lining, over satin trousers. I don’t think it would seem weird for someone like Tilda Swinton to wear this on the red carpet now, and it was made in 1960!

This pink dress is possibly my favourite (or one of my 2 favourites) of Balenciaga’s designs. And, again, I love it more knowing what’s going on underneath the simple silhouette.

And finally I couldn’t not include this amazing feathered dress, which was designed by Givenchy, who was a pupil of Balenciaga and shared his high standards in textiles and construction. Again, this was made in 1968 but still looks so modern.

Did you manage to see the exhibition or are you going in the last couple of weeks? Do you have any favourite designers or books you love looking through for inspiration?

 

 

2 Pink Mini Chestnut Tops

I didn’t end up making any Christmas presents for actual Christmas, but my uni friends and I always get together in January for ‘Christmas 2’ (which I originally suggested when I knitted 2 cushions for my 2 best friends and I knew I wouldn’t get them finished in time so I suggested meeting up in January to give myself a couple of extra weeks!) and then CocoWawa Crafts released the Mini Chestnut pattern. I had already bought the adult version for myself and then thought the mini version would be perfect for my friend’s daughter (who I’ve made things for before, including the Norman wall hanging, felt allotment, travel matching game, and I knitted a baby cardigan when she was first born) who is now 6!! I checked with her mum, my friend, and she said she would probably like it and that her favourite colours are pink, teal and turquoise.

I got this lovely pink speckled jersey from Sew Me Sunshine. I ordered 1.5m because the pattern said 1.2m but I assume this is for the biggest size – I made the age 7 size (based on my friend’s recommendation of how big her daughter is) and I made 2 easily out of the 1.5m of fabric. The fabric was a little thinner than I thought but she can easily layer up the top with a cardigan over the top (which she did on Sunday) and it means she can still wear them when it’s a bit warmer.

I bought 2 colours of ribbon from my local fabric shop – in a matching pink and a contrasting teal. The teal picks up the colour of some of the specks in the jersey and I think it looks really nice.

I used my normal sewing machine to stitch the seams and then overlocked everything (except the cuffs as they were too small and I didn’t want to shred the sleeves at the last moment! I also didn’t overlock around the edge of the facing on the back as the overlocker did not like a single layer of this fabric! I’m glad I tested it on a scrap of fabric before putting the actual pieces through! I zig-zagged the raw edge, though it wasn’t totally necessary as jersey doesn’t fray.

I used some off-cuts from the ribbon to stabilise the shoulder seams, which is an optional step in the instructions. I thought it would help the tops last as long as possible (hopefully until she grows out of them rather than they fall apart).

I used my twin needle to top-stitch all the bits that needed topstitching – the facing on the back (which I also understitched), the hem band and the cuffs. I love how a twin needle makes things look really professional – as does the overlocking I think, even if the tension is still not quite right.

   

Making these tops was really fun – because the clothes are small, they’re quick to make up and making 2 at the same time definitely saved some time! I had hoped to have mine made in time for Christmas 2 so we could match, but I didn’t get chance to make mine yet. It’s going to hopefully be my first make for myself of 2018. I’ve got some really lovely thick sweatshirting all cut out ready and I could definitely do with a warm top/jumper at the moment as it’s pretty cold in our flat!

 

 

Nancy Dress from Crowd Fabric

I know I say this all the time, but this really is one of my favourite makes. If I say so myself, it was a good combination of fabric and pattern – and I love the pattern! It’s the Sew Over It Nancy Dress, which was I think the first pattern they released as part of their PDF club in January last year. The fabric was from Fabrics Galore and although I bought it ages ago, miraculously they still have it! There is a second colourway too. which is more blue and green. I made the size 10 based on my waist and hip measurements and since it’s a loose-fitting dress, I thought it would be okay that my bust measurement is about 2 inches smaller than listed for the size 10 and I think I was right. I’m glad I didn’t fiddle around trying to do a small bust adjustment!

I found the pattern quite simple to make, and even with my slightly inaccurate cutting because of the shifty fabric. The only fiddley part is adding the side panels in as there is a square corner, but the instructions talk you through how to do it and it worked out fine.

I like the fact that there isn’t a zip or any buttonholes in this dress. It just has a hook and eye at the top of the opening on the back. I used one from the old sewing box I bought from our local antiques shop, but it was a bad choice as it doesn’t stay closed. I think I need a smaller, tighter hook that will stay in its eye. Of course I finished this in November and still haven’t fixed this issue! I just put a safety pin on it! Anyone else do this – once something is finished and wearable, I can’t be bothered to fix it?! The trousers I altered in 2016 were missing a button until about 3 weeks ago!

I really love the swingy shape of this dress – and I’ve got loads of compliments on it each time I’ve worn it. I even wore it on Christmas Day! It was supposed to be my birthday dress but I didn’t get it finished in time so I wore my yellow Marianne dress instead on that day. I’ve already got another Nancy cut out from some viscose I bought ages and ages ago because I really like it as a comfortable but smart-looking work dress. I might sew the sleeves with a reduced seam allowance as that’s the only place that could be slight improved –  things are always tight on the sleeves on me and I don’t know why. I don’t think I have disproportionately big arms compared to the rest of me, but perhaps I do!

I tried to do some twirling to show the movement of the dress, but it didn’t really work – I think I should have filmed it and made a GIF (I say this as though I would know how to do this!).

This is definitely one of my favourite dresses – the only downside with viscose is it needs ironing and creases quite easily while worn but it’s worth it for the lovely drape. Do you have any favourite fabrics to sew with?

I didn’t have any funny outtakes from this photoshoot so I thought I’d share this ‘real’ photo of what I looked like before I took the other photos – in a warm jumper and slippers.

Btw, I forgot to mention it in my plans for 2018 post but one of my resolutions is to try to take better photos of my me-made outfits – I want to try to venture outside and maybe try different poses! I just need to magically become unselfconscious! If you have any tips for taking photos of yourself, please let me know!

 

 

#2018MakeNine and Plans for the Year

Now that it’s January 2nd (and I’ve had my first day back at work, boo!), I thought I would do a little post about my sewing plans for the year – I did the same last year but this year I’m hoping to stay a bit more focussed on my Make Nine and other plans for the year so I maybe do a bit better than I did in 2017!

After careful consideration, here is my #2018MakeNine:

There are some repeats from last year – of the patterns I still want to make! And like in 2017 there are a lot of Closet Case Patterns on my list!

From left to right in rows from the top the patterns are:
1. Carolyn Pajamas – Closet Case Patterns
2. Honetone Coat – Marilla Walker
3. Ginger Jeans – Closet Case Patterns
4. Morgan Jeans – Closet Case Patterns
5. Carnaby Dress – Nina Lee
6. Ebony Dress – Closet Case Patterns
7. Hannah Dress – Victory Patterns
8 Guise Pants – Papercut Patterns
9. Portobello Trousers – Nina Lee

I have all of these patterns already and the list reflects my need for more trousers and jeans in my wardrobe. I also really, really, want to make a proper Winter coat in the first month or two of this year as I don’t have a really good coat that’s warm. The Carolyn Pajamas are also on my list as I want o level up by using piping for the first time – I already have 2 fabrics in my stash to make them so I have no excuses!

I am also again sort-of-joining in with #SewMyStyle this year – I made one pattern from the 12 last year and this year I’m planning to join in with 3 months, though I’m substituting one of the patterns.

In March it’s the Closet Case Patterns’ Kalle Shirt and Shirtdress – this would probably have made it into my Make Nine but I’ve snuck it into my plans here instead. November is lingerie month and I bought a bra kit at the New Craft House Winter Party which goes with the Harriet Bra pattern by Cloth Habit so this will be good motivation to actually use the kit and make a bra. This is part of my plans to level up my sewing this year. October has a couple of tote bag patterns as the prompts and I still want to make the Colette Cooper bag so, again, I’ve taken it off my Make Nine and added it to the Sew My Style list instead.

In theory this gives me one thing per month to make, so as long as I keep focussed I’m hoping I can get all of this done. Listening to this week’s Love To Sew Podcast definitely helped me to think about what I want to achieve this year – mostly taking on more involved, advanced projects with a few easier sews thrown in. I would definitely recommend it if you’re struggling to narrow down your choices for Make Nine, if you’re taking part.

I have a couple of other things I would like to do this year – like take up knitting again, and make some clothes for The Boyfriend – but I am also going to try to be a bit easy on myself if I don’t get all of this done. I’m sure I would have time to do everything I wanted if I didn’t have to have a job, but then I wouldn’t be able to afford fabric or patterns!

What are your plans for the year? Are you hoping to grow your skills or your wardrobe?