MOVED!

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Purple faux fur jacket and the V&A

I didn’t make this one. I found it at the Woking Hospice Charity shop (for £12!!) and decided to alter it. At an over-generous size 12 from Oasis, it was huge on me.

So I put a seam down each sleeve to make them more narrow. And a seam down each side of the body at chest/waist height, to make it narrower there too for a warmer, tighter fit.

I also moved the hooks it has for closures from the edge of the coat to the side, turning it from a single-breasted jacket to a double-breasted one. There are no buttons to emphasize this, just a thicker front. Amusingly, the side pockets overlap right on the front. Thankfully, I’m not too scared of looking too padded, so I’ve happily been walking around in it all weekend. It’s much warmer than my French Connection wool & cashmere coat, despite being 100% synthetic. I guess the thickness of the fur makes up for lack of good materials!!

Bottom line is that if you find such a jacket for sale anywhere, altering it is incredibly easy (took me less than 30min while pausing to watch Adventures of a London Call Girl on tv) and definitely worth it!

Oh, and this weekend I dropped by the V&A to see their decode exhibition. Some cool interactive things, but nothing to really make me go WOW. Aside from one exhibit which allowed the users to upload pictures and participate that way in the “art” being shown… If they have an IPHONE. I’m a user / visitor too. And I was not allowed to participate.  And that’s everything that’s wrong with Apple and its fanatics. I’m a user too. Why segregate?

On the bright side, there was a goooooorgeous dress on show. Can’t remember from whom. Oh, right, Christian Lacroix. Of course. :)  Too elaborate to truly be worn, and yet so surprisingly desirable…

Christian Lacroix gown at the V&A

Planning a “Tuxedo Tuesday” with friends. Loosely inspired by Barney’s “suit up” line on How I met your mother, combined with us girls’ perpetual desire to dress up but not having sufficient occasions for it. *sigh*. Maybe some day soon!! Anyone ever tried it? Where did you go? We were thinking a pub, or hotel bar…

Teal Victoriana jacket: Cut!

Ta daaa!!

Took me 2 evenings, but I’ve cut all the (10) pieces required to make the jacket. Hurrah!!

From the looks of things, it shall be one chunky jacket!! :D

*GRIN* WAAAAAARM!!

Blue Tuesday…

Very very blue…

Not in the mood for anything much, and didn’t want to think. So I plotted my next project: a jacket. And then, of course, I went out like a happy bunny and bought the fabric required for it. Spent a whopping £48 on teal wool/polyester blend (50-50, which is a good blend), basic beige fleece, and a very very very pretty striped lining that Helen from the Woking Singer shop showed me. I’m generally scared to death of stripes, but I liked it so much, I’m going to brave them!!

So last night I laid out the fabric and started cutting. That’s cutting through 6 (yes, SIX) layers of fabric. 2 wool, 2 lining and 2 fleece. Let me tell you, it gets tough on the fingers! I’m mightily proud of my scissors, and grateful that the table isn’t in overly sensitive polished wood and can take the pressure.

I only managed to completely cut 2 of the 3 pieces you can see laid out above. Tonight I finish off the last one and depending on whether the table is required for Xbox surgery (M$ refused to fix the red rings of death, BF tried on his own, managed, but a week later it bust again so he’s planning a repeat…) or not, I will cut the remaining… 6 I think. I doubt I will have time to begin assembly before Sunday, as we’re feeding some friends on Saturday and will need to clean & tidy up the place a bit before.

Well, at least I’ve made a good start on the jacket. Looking forward to picking out buttons and frills for it, possibly adding pockets both internally and externally (Will have to do the internal ones before I start putting it together!!) and then, of course, wearing it :) It’ll be a while before I can do _that_, but at least I’m planning to have quite a bit of detailed sewing fun until then!! And that’s why I decided to do this in the first place. Hurrah!! (sort of… it’s only a sewing project…)

How to keep going…

The tiny Singer shop in Woking doesn’t have any red cotton jersey (or at least not as much as I’d like) so I can’t make the freeflowing red dress I was hoping to wear to go shopping at London Fashion Weekend (one needs comfy clothes that slip off easily. And I like red.)

The pattern I’d ordered from the same Singer shop before Xmas never made it into their order, and I’m still waiting on last week’s Vogue pattern order I put in myself from the USA. So I can’t make another dress I want. Thankfully I have found the perfect fabric to make it in: a beautiful teal weave (now that _does_ exist at the Singer shop… I might line it in yellow!

While I wait for either the fabric for the red dress or the pattern for the blue dress to show up (I do have 2 alternatives, whichever gets here first) I am going to buy myself some delicious velvet, fleece and lining to make this decadent not-so-little piece. And I am referring solely to the jacket. The fleece will be to use as interlining to keep me warm. Jackets that are purely decorative should never be made, or allowed to be sold. Unless they’re called cardigans or fit under a *real* jacket.

I am not sure if I’ll add scalloped lace edging to the sleeves, but I am looking forward to putting in the shiny lining in a nice fabric. I’ve seen some pretty burgundy velvet, but perhaps, if they have something in green, I’ll go for that instead. With teal lining, perhaps? I haven’t decided, it will depend on what’s available. But for 2m of fabric, I think this is one of the coolest jackets one could have. I am immensely amused that the pattern is being sold as a historical costume, when jackets with a similar collar, buttons and sleeves are flooding the marketplace in 2010. The bottom flaps are shorter on the ones being sold, but you know what? I like my bum warm, so this will be just perfect!

Well, here’s to hoping that getting my hands and brain busy will dispel the clouds hovering over my head, at least temporarily, so I can breathe. And on the plus side I’ll end up with a beautiful jacket, too!

Polka-dot and pink flower dress

Wednesday night I went from having 6 pieces of fabric lying about, to having a dress. It’s missing the zipper down the back and still needs to be hemmed, but the silhouette and finished product is very recogniseable. Here’s a seam-by-seam (or nearly) photographically enhanced account of the adventure:

The front piece with the 4 darts. The first 4 darts (of 12) that the 6 pieces require.

Next came sewing the shoulders (front pieces to back pieces) and the neckline all around (baste it first, cuz you don’t want it to wiggle!). You end up with this:

Then comes sewing around the armholes and the strange step bit of flipping it around by passing the back panels through the shoulder holes, to get the pieces out to the right side.

Once that’s done, you sew down the sides (lining and outer) and ta-da!!!! You have what I have. A dress!!! I’ve pinned it on the doll to see what it’d be like finished.

The secret is, of course, that if you look on the back there’s quite a bit of work to be done. Here I’ve sewn the zipper onto the lining on both sides (rolling the lining inwards to make for a clean finish from the inside) and have pinned the outer fabric in place on one side (the other remains to be done) in preparation for the final sew-down (ha ha ha)

Not bad for an evening’s work :) And to think, I got home at 18:15, and went to bed at 23:15 and took at least an hour “off” to prepare and eat dinner. So all this in 4 hours. Not particularly fast, I have to admit, but if I can churn out a dress in 3 evenings (1: trace & cut, 2: sew basics 3: zip & hem) then that’s actually pretty good!!

Upcoming challenge: The Red Dress for London Fashion Weekend. There is no reason to wear anything special, BUT, it’ll be full of designers, sellers, and fashion-enlightened people, so it’ll be to my benefit to look good _and_ it does get uncomfortable and warm. So making myself a smashing (and perfectly fitted) red dress out of comfy cotton jersey sounds perfect. Plus I’ve been drooling over a belt for the past 3 years, and it’d look amazing on a red dress. So I’m a sucker for pretty things… Sue me! :P

Next day (Thursday evening)

Took me longer than to put the darts in, but…. I’ve put the zipper in completely invisibly (by hand, with tiiiiiny backstitching), the hem is done securing the lining in place as well (also invisibly, at least from the outside, I’m quite impressed with the itsy-bitsy stitches I managed to do -also by hand-) and I’m wearing the dress!! Had to take it in on the hips a little as the pattern was bigger than me, but that was easy :) Also re-did the front darts. Patterns seem to allow for more of a belly in women than what I’ve got (which is nearly none) and if I were to stick to the pattern’s shape, I’d have a dress with a poofy blob down the front. Very strange.

Yey!! That’s me, on our windowsill, ready for work. I wore the dress with a rollneck in a pink similar to the flowers due to the low temperatures out there. It’ll be worn on its own in all its sleeveless glory when “summer” comes. Aka a weekend in april and maybe a week in July…

Walked into work and was greeted by a compliment “That’s very nice” and a tease “Honolulu airlines today” from the same person. Have to admit, I’m *this* close to coming to work in fancy dress (english for masquerade/costume) just to see what they would say. Love working in R&D. Somehow fewer people in the other departments have the twisted sense of humour “we” do. And I like it here :)

Replacing handbag lining

After my misadventure with the TopShop flimsy lining, I decided to re-line my handbag. Why? Because it’s cute, and looks small, but fits an amazing quantity of things, including an A5-sized page-a-day yearly moleskine diary. Yes, the big fat black one. And a massive wallet. And all my other clutter necessities. So. Here’s how I did it.

  1. Remove old lining. I left a 1.5cm “fringe” of the old one, as I wasn’t sure my machine can stitch through leather. I sewed most of the new lining onto that “fringe”, and am considering cross-stitching on top of it to a) make a prettier edging and b) ensure the new lining stays on by securing it to the leather.
  2. Cut piece of new lining wall (with possible 2nd piece for reinforcement)
  3. Cut pieces for pockets
  4. Put pockets together (gives a better finish)
  5. Affix pockets to the bag.
  6. Add zippered pocket if you wish (the best tutorial for that is from u-hanblog)
  7. Sew new lining to the bag, going all around the edge
  8. At this time I also stitched the “TopShop real leather” tag onto the lining. Thought it’d be a cute touch and memento of where the bad lining came from.
  9. Sew down the side to form a tube and close the lining up
  10. Cut the bottom piece(s). I used a second piece to reinforce this too, even if it won’t be under much strain.
  11. Sew the bottom piece as far as you can (from the back, to get a clean finish) using the machine.
  12. Finish sewing the bottom piece by hand (good side of fabric to you). I was rushed (wanted to go out in 10 min and use it) and did it very quickly and it’s not pretty, but you know what? It’s at the bottom of the bag, in the darkest recesses of my daily clutter-carrier, and I don’t really care :)

I also chose to take this opportunity to add a magnetic closure at the top of the bag, as none had been provided and the bag was infuriatingly left gaping at all times. In a city like London, this is an open invitation for peeking, and less desireably, pick-pocketing too. Adding such closures is the easiest thing in the world, and I recommend it to anyone who has trouble closing their bags. Mind you, you do need access to the space behind the lining in order to secure it in place, but a small opening should suffice.