Thursday, 24 December 2015

Victorian Rose Applique Skirt

I have been inspired by some lovely clothing on Pinterest and decided to try stitching flowers onto one of my latest Victorian style creations.  This skirt was made using some vintage crinkle cotton for the black & floral underskirts.  The overskirt layer on top was made from a heavy satin taken from a vintage 80s puffball skirt - the satin has a lot of body which I like as it sits quite firmly on top of the skirt.  I decided to applique some roses onto this using offcuts from the floral cotton.  I constructed roses by the "spider rose" technique and then further sculpted the roses by stitching the petals  here & there to add depth & texture.  I finished them with some small embroidered leaves.  My first attempt at applique flowers, it won't be the last!


Sunday, 20 December 2015

More Victorian Stitchery

I found a lovely striped wool vintage 80s two piece which was perfect for a transformation project.  The lovely colours - stripes of grey, red, mauve & tan - made me think of Victorian daywear outfits so I combined the textile with pieces in dark red, grey plaid & black cut from other garments. 
The jacket was an oversized long shirt style (so very 80s) which fitted well on the shoulders due to the obligatory shoulder pads but was pretty shapeless when it reached the waist & hipline.  So I cut the jacket across the natural waist & added shaped godets cut from the grey plaid to give a peplum effect.  I then added dark red trims to the front to give the jacket a smart look.  On the back I stitched a half belt with long ties so the fit can be adjusted & also to add some extra detail.

 Don't you think this would make a perfect Christmas morning outfit for a Victorian themed Christmas?


Thursday, 10 December 2015

How to Make Steampunk Military Epaulettes from Curtain Braid & Tassels

Years ago I bought a little sample pelmet in the John Lewis sale because it was decorated with some gorgeous classic old gold braiding & tassels.  These have been saved ever since waiting to be used in a sewing project.

I decided to see if I could make some braid epaulettes for this cute military style velvet jacket.

If you want to have a go yourself, here are some brief instructions of how I went about it!

Firstly, assemble some supplies ; braid & tassels; sellotape; fabric glue; thread

The most important thing is NEVER cut the braid without having first wrapped a small piece of sellotape around it, otherwise the whole thing will spring apart, fray & unravel.  You have been warned!

The tassels had already been stitched onto the braid (photo above) so I measured the seam on the jacket from the edge of the collar to the shoulder seam & used this as my cutting guide.  I cut a loop of braid twice this length with the tassel at the fold point.

I then cut a piece of braid without the sellotape method as I wanted some strands to wrap round the cut ends of the braid - you will see what these unbraided strands looked like on the left of the photo above.  REMEMBER though to use sellotape on the ends of these for the next stage.  Cut the individual strands so that you can wrap it around the cut ends of the main braid - I wrapped it round 4 times.  Be sure to put the taped ends of the strand on the underside (this might seem like a fine detail, but I did it wrong first time & had to rewind!)  I used repositionable 404 spray adhesive for this so I could adjust the strands.  I then glued the ends of the strands with fabric glue & left them overnight to dry.

I never trust just glue, so I then stitched the strands using matching old gold thread.  I stitched the ends which will go to the collar seam and then zigzagged across approx. halfway down the main braids with large stitches to join the top halves together.  Again, be sure to do this on what will be the UNDERSIDE (guess you can see I do things wrong first time otherwise I wouldn't have noticed this!!)

I then used BLACK thread to stitch the braid onto the shoulders of the jacket.  I stitched down the middle of the joined together section and then I spread the braid out into more of an epaulette shaped loop & stitched through the braid on the inside of the loop.

I think the final result is really effective & is great for steampunk & military costumes.  I will be making a medal next so watch this blog for details.  Bye, Karen xx


Saturday, 28 November 2015

Reworked Peplum Cardigan

My first attempt at a reworked cardigan!  Bought this pretty floral cardigan a few years ago but it was always a bit too short so decided to experiment with a contrast peplum cut from a wool sweater bought at a jumble sale.

I cut away round the bottom of the floral cardi at the level where I wanted to attach the peplum & then I cut a panel from the back of the cardigan so I would have some textile for contrast godets in the peplum - you can see the 2 halves here:

I used the panel I had cut from the back as a template:

I then stitched the new ivory back panel along with green contrast strips:

I then stitched the ribbing cut from the back panel of the floral cardi onto the back neckline; I pieced the peplum (I could not cut this in one piece) & inserted the floral godets; I stitched it all together & ran a contrast plum overlocked hemline for contrast:

Hubby says the back looks like a football shirt but I don't care!!

The rework equation is cardigan plus sweater plus scarf (shown below is also another cardigan I did not use):

equals peplum cardi!

Oops, just noticed I still have a button to sew on!

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Bananarama Vintage Scarf Tops

Earlier in the year I was asked to make 10 (yes, 10!) upcycled scarf outfits for the Saved by Sue Ryder project.  I made 3 outfits using a vintage 80s oversized top as a template.  This shape of top always reminds me of Bananarama, messy hair (anyone else used to turn their head upside down and just blast it dry in those pre-hair straightener days??) and lots of eye make up ....

Of course the border designs on scarves, such as this silk one above, can be incorporated as the edges of the garment.  Here I faced the neckline with a bias strip cut from one of those long skinny 70s bias cut scarves.

For the butter yellow and paisley dress above, I used 2 extra large scarves and used the border as the neckline and another long scarf as a tie sash.

This Pucci inspired silk scarf was very very fine and floaty so I edged the neckline with a nice purple satin bias binding, great for boho festival styling


Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Mori Girl & Dolly Kei

 Even though I have been v.v. busy with college (microteach coming up next week when I will be teaching my fellow students .... eek!), I have still been sourcing lots of interesting textiles every time I go outside the house.  Of course, I try to sneak these purchases inside as I am meant to be decluttering (oh yes!), but somehow a little dog always gives me away as he sniffs the bag of textiles out.  I do wash all textiles pretty much as soon as they are over the threshold.  Coats, Dry Clean Only, more or less anything gets washed.  Fortunately, laundry disasters are few & far between. Particularly with the vintage garments I am sure that manufacturers labelled them Dry Clean Only as they knew that the alternative was the hubble bubble of a 70s twin tub washing machine or worse!

In between writing assignments there are always a few minutes to while away looking at Pinterest.  I am happily researching different fashion styles & was surprised to learn that some of the garments I have been creating recently would not be out of place in mori girl or dolly kei pinboards.  Indeed, I would almost go so far as to say that good old Laura Ashley in the 70s was probably the first mori girl!

Once my microteach is over next week, the sewing machine & overlocker will be put to full use again ....  In the meantime, some pics of some of my recent creations which I am now thinking have a distinct dolly kei vibe! I made a secret pocket to go under the layers of the skirt, & embroidered it with SECRETS ... x


Tuesday, 17 November 2015

If the (vintage) cap fits ....

Currently wearing lots of caps (as it were), have been really busy with college work (although next week will be giving my microteach session so will be a chance to take a bit of a breather after that), plus have been sewing LOTS, as well as some appointments ... another week or so then I will be back blogging x

Saturday, 31 October 2015

Pretty in Pink Victoriana in the Sewing Room

I often wish I could sew "pale & interesting" .... or maybe "dark & dramatic" .... sometimes I succeed.  But usually I am unable to resist the lure of colour.  So this week there has been a "pretty in pink" theme going on in the Sewing Room. Not only the patchwork ruffle coat, but a tiered ruffled Victoriana type skirt with a secret pocket hidden under the layers ... and an upcycled treasures & textile necklace


Thursday, 29 October 2015

Romantic Upcycled Hippy Festival Patchwork Coat

 As you will know if you read this blog, this year I have been upcycling in a serious way!  I have crates of textiles & interesting clothing which I am loving experimenting with.  I decided to make a hippy festival coat using a patchwork skirt in pretty pinks & greens as the inspiration.  I used a knitted linen cardigan for the top section & added panels of a green pashmina & some faux suede round the dropped waist section.  Of course my overlocker came into its own with this, especially as I decided to follow the "donor" skirt & use visible seams.  I was pleased with some little daisy embroidery stitches on my machine as the centres formed little eyelets, a bit like a broderie anglaise, & this was an unexpected bonus!

A glorious mixture of textiles to upcycle before stitching began - one pink linen cardigan, an ivory wool sweater (not used), a cotton patchwork skirt, a green pashmina, a pink shawl (not used), a silk dress (not used) and some pink faux suede.


Thursday, 22 October 2015

1930s Ruched Ruffles

This 1930s Bestway Ribbon magazine has to be one of my favourite sewing booklets ever.  It has some lovely ribbon needlecraft projects including handbags, flower corsages and of course the essential Deco crinoline lady!  You might have seen pretty little shell type ribbon trims inside handbags of this era, usually used to trim the edges of the linings, and this book has instructions for making them.  Basically, you work zigzags of running stitch along the length of ribbon then draw them up & the ruching magic happens!  Scan of instructions below:

I was customising a denim jacket & wondered how this technique would work with wider strips of fabric so gave it a go.  I had cut "ribbons" of silk approx. 1"/2.5cm wide & then overlocked the edges.  I stitched with the zigzag running stitch by hand (much quicker than I had anticipated) & then gathered it up to fit the hemline I wanted to trim.  I pinned it in place & zigzagged with my sewing machine.  I really love the final result & will be doing lots more ruched ruffles in the future! x


Monday, 19 October 2015

Victorian Sewing & Vintage Research

Confession time ... I am a major geek when it comes to vintage needlecrafts research.  I have a small office with two bookcases full of vintage books & magazines which I use when designing garments or researching workshops & tutorials.  Among my earliest resources are several turn of the (19th) century journals such as La Mode Nationale.  These feature some amazingly complex pattern sheets to be traced:

so far I haven't succeeded in using these, simply using the illustrations & small scale pattern piece diagrams for inspiration.  But there are some real gems I would like to attempt such as this incredible "sports corset" ... yep, the mind boggles:

also some beautiful underwear:

The illustrations (some of the cover ones are hand coloured like the one above) are so interesting & even the adverts show an insight into the social history of the time.  It seems that worrying about grey hair or weight, or considering consulting a fortune teller are not exclusively modern day concerns:


Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Ruffles & Bustles

As part of my ongoing foray into steampunk stitchery, I created a very ruffled & bustled 2 piece from some pretty linen & cotton donor garments.
The bustle back skirt was made with small loops which hook onto a button to create the bustle effect.

More stitchery projects coming soon x

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