Thursday, 17 August 2017

You must try this dying technique - Amazing results!

Last week I was fortunate to take part in a local youth camp called Staying Alive. It's organised by the Church of England but brings together leaders and youth from a range of Christian backgrounds. I was helping lead a group but had also been asked to run an "EXTREME" craft workshop, as the theme was NO FEAR.

Now my mind ran to the most extreme crafts I could do with a bunch of teenagers - I could have started hacking at chunks of wood or brick or making extreme clay work - like raku firing. However, the safety and time limitations meant something a little tamer, but still amazing! So I opted for space tie dye. The results were sooooooo good that I thought I'd share my method here.

You will need:
Washing soda (soda crystals - without bleach)
Elastic bands or strong string
A bucket
Plastic bags
Procion dye in a range of colours (Dylon cold dye works well)
Bottles with a nozzle or Jars with lids and pipettes.
Pre-washed cotton fabric/ t shirts etc.

1. Prepare the dye.
I like to do this in a jar and use pipettes to put the dye in the fabric (but you could do just as well with a squeezy bottle with a nozzle). Put about 1 tsp of dye in a jar and dissolve in a small amount of hot (but not boiling) water. Make your dye up to about 100-150ml.

2. Prepare the Soda solution.
Dissolve about 200g of the washing soda in about 1 litre of hot water, when dissolved add more cold water to about 2/3 litres.

3. Prepare the fabric.
Tie the fabric tightly with string or elastic bands. there are many ways you can tie fabric in order to dye it. It's worth experimenting with bands of colour, circles, spirals etc.There are some great ways to tie your fabric here. Once the fabric is tied you need to soak it in the soda solution until it's soaking wet. then wring out as much of the liquid as you can - you could use a spin cycle on the washing machine for this if you wish.

4. Dying the fabric
On a waterproof surface place your pre soaked fabric. using pipette add dye to the fabric. you can be quite random, or more planned in the layout of colours. you do need to think about colour theory. Harmonious colours will work best and you should avoid just using everything as you can end up with a mush!

5. Leave to dye
Once you have covered all of the fabric with dye. pop it into a plastic bag and leave for at least an hour or overnight.

6. Rinse
Rinse the fabric in cold water to get rid of the excess dye. Then remove the bands/ string and rinse again. It's worth rinsing in warm water and spinning before hanging up to dry.

7. Admire
Admire your EXTREME tie dye. The results are super and impressive - and anyone can do this!
Remember when you first wash your tie dyed items to wash them separately as there can still be
some excess dye.

Monday, 7 August 2017

How to hack a basic bodice into a halter style top - tutorial

A few people have asked how I created the bodice for my maxi halter dress. - it's relatively easy.

You will need:
A basic bodice pattern.
ruler/ french curve.

I used the basic bodice from Gertie's ultimate dress book but any basic bodice will do. Make sure it fits you well before beginning -make a toile.

I have drawn out the steps on regular paper with sharpie as you could not see the changes to my actual pattern as I'd used a thin light pencil and tissue paper. However the steps below should give you the right idea.

1. Trace your basic block, front and back onto the paper you are going to use and mark in the seam lines. I would also measure the neck edge before you start adapting the pattern. If you are going to make a collar piece this will make this step easier. (you could also apply a bias binding to the finished edge.

2. On the shoulder seams mark your new seam length. I made mine 1.5cm. Don't forget to allow for seam allowance on the neck edge.

3. Draw new cut away armhole to your new marked seams from the underarm.

4. Add seam allowance (1-1.5cm)

5. Cut away the excess paper from the shoulder area. The back piece should be finished now.

6. On the front cut up one leg of each dart.

7. Tape the darts closed. You will end up with a curved or pointy piece of paper. (you can also do this with patterns that only have one dart. the principle is the same)

8. Cut a straight line from the neck edge through the point of the bust dart, and one through the waist dart. The closer you are to the dart point the flatter your paper will lie.

9. Tape paper behind your pattern, spreading the neckline edge open - it will look quite wide.

10. Join the neck edge seam line with a smooth curve from the shoulder to the centre front - use a french curve to help - then add your seam allowance.

11. This is the edge that will be gathered into the collar or neck binding. My collar piece was approx 22cm (folded in half) before I added the seam allowances.
To gather the neckline either sew two rows of basting stitched into the seam allowances and pull the ends of the thread up to ease into the collar or sew a zigzag over dental floss or cord and pull that up to gather the neckline.

Order of construction:
Sew darts in back bodice and press towards centre back. Sew shoulder and side seams together, press. Gather neckline and sew into collar. Sew collar facing and finish CB seam. Buttons, a tie, or zip work well.

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Maxi Halter Hack

Since getting into sewing 6 years ago I have always been inspired by Gertie and her love of fabrics and pattern adaptations. When I saw this fabric I originally thought it might make a Gertie style Tiki dress. but the fabric lacked the body needed for such a dress. I had bought this fab fabric from B&M fabrics in Leeds. I visited the shop as part of the #sewupnorth event. Once I had realised it would not make a tiki dress I had several other ideas for this fabric. I was going to make a version of my Alexandra dress, but wanted a maxi length and knew there would not be enough to add the ruffles and a long skirt. Then I was going to make the surplice dress from Gertie's Ultimate dress book but again that design requires fabric with more body.

In the end I decided to adapt a basic bodice as I wanted to get the most out of the drape of this fabric.
I took the basic bodice from the Ultimate dress book and cut away most of the shoulder area and closed the bust and waist darts, rotating the fullness to the front neck edge.

I drafted a collar piece. this started as a straight piece, but then I took out wedges along the top to give a curved finish, making sure I marked the shoulder line.

I sewed the back darts as normal and the shortened shoulder seams then gathered the front neckline into the collar. The armholes are finished with a bias facing.

The skirt is essentially the Pencil Skirt from Gertie's new book for better sewing. I used my usual size 6, but had to take in quite a bit at the waist to fit the top. In fact due to the drapey nature of the fabric and lack of lining I ended up taking almost an inch from the side seams of the bodice as the gaped quite a bit.

I added a concealed zip, which finished mid back and two buttons on the collar. A walking slit allows ease of movement. I think this just might get a lot of wear on my holidays.

Friday, 4 August 2017

My First Pair of Trousers

I did it - I made trousers and they are wearable!
Way back in the early part of the year I make a muslin of trousers from Burdastyle magazine. They did not fit! Way way too tight,  and the back rise and crotch curve were just wrong.

So I set out on drafting and making my own. I like the high waist cigarette pants from Gertie's book, but was not sure that they would be any better as I'm pear shaped, have along torso and fairly chunky legs - years of skating and dancing have left me with well developed thighs and over extended calf muscles.

My initial draft was OK, but there was lots of excess fabric in the back leg. The waist was also too low and too wide.

Changes made were: Raise the back by adding a wedge into the CB seam; lengthen the back Crotch seam and scoop out more. scoop out the front crotch seam a little; Narrow the legs and then take a wedge out from under the butt. I also found the fabric was catching on my calf muscles so I made a extended calf adjustment on the back pattern piece and finally drafted a curved waistband. I also made the back pockets a bit bigger than the original draft.

I used the Ginger Jeans sew a long to help with the construction order and found it very helpful. I added stable cotton for the pocket linings and tacked to the front seam. Top stitching was done in self coloured thread. The fabric behaved beautifully. I bought 2m at B&M fabrics in Leeds at the #sewupnorth event in June. I had enough left over the make a version of the Cleo dungarees dress by Tilly & the Buttons.

These trousers are completely wearable, but they are not perfect.

This was my first time sewing with a stretch woven and I'm a convert - the comfort and stability of the fabric was brilliant.

So verdict - I'm really happy with these for my first pair of trousers. I will make some adjustments for the next pair. I wore these for 2 days and the fit was great to start, but as with all denim, it slackens off when you wear it. I was really happy with the back waistband and the fit at the back - it's the first time I've had trousers that don't gape!

Adjustments for next time:-
Lengthen the legs slightly - about 3cm and add more hem
Taper the back leg at the hem, below the calf - I'm sewing with stretch there is no need for flappy hems!
Take a small wedge out of the back inseam under the butt - just to help with those wrinkles.
Take a pinch out of the front at the pocket edge to make them lie flat.
Take a small wedge amount out of the front crotch seam and check the curve.
Pinch out excess on the front waist seam to abdomen (where you would put a dart) as this is where I found the draft gaped quite a bit and I found myself pulling them up a lot, especially on the second day of wear. I do want to keep the comfort and not make them too tight.


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