Monday, 26 December 2016

Who needs a christmas tree when you have embroidered tulle?!

While browsing the rag market at SewBrum in September, I spotted a gorgeous length of embroidered tulle at one of the stalls. It was a pale gold/green tulle with a gold Paisley design and little pink and gold flowers. I held it up to the light, and as it shimmered, I tried to stop myself imagining myself gleefully twirling in it. With all the restraint I could muster, I pulled myself away. We live in a small one bed flat in Bath, and 80% of 'our space' is piled high with silks, brocades and bold African wax. My goal for the SewBrum fabric trip was to make slightly more conservative choices for an attempt at a more everyday wardrobe... Pah! Who am I kidding?!!! I'm like moth to the flame - I CANNOT STOP MYSELF! I need to come to terms with the fact that I will ALWAYS be A LOT overdressed. As for the space issue, we'll just have to move! After a debriefing with Pecia and Becca I made my way back to the stall and joyfully handed over my £12 for the 2m length! It was mine!
Along with this little lot... such a practical bounty! I'm like a magpie.
It sat in my stash for over a month before the perfect occasion presented itself... the Fold line Christmas party. If you can't be overdressed with a group of sewists then when can you?! I found this perfect gold lining fabric in my stash. It was a gift from my chap's Dad, and the embroidery looked beautiful over it.

After a quick browse through my pattern stash, I selected the Elisalex dress. This was the first dress I ever made, so I am very fond of it. I imagined the princess seams with a box pleat skirt - beautiful! I fancied sewing a pattern I knew like the back of my hand but with the slight challenge of underlining in the gold lining I was in for a blissful day! I drafted a quick short sleeve to fit the armhole instead of using the original pattern sleeve (I cannot wait to get my hands on the updated version of this pattern - the By Hand London girls have reworked their magic with this beauty!). I wanted the sleeve and the bottom section of the skirt to be sheer over the skin, so I decided I would just underline the bodice and use a free lining in the skirt to cover my modesty! There was only a metre of the gold lining so I had to be very strategic with the pattern pieces. I squeezed out a half circle skirt as a lining that was perhaps a little shorter than I would have liked (it is a good job I'm a midget!).

I played around with the pattern placement to get the paisley repeat running perfectly down the middle and to avoid any awkward positioning! I cut the underling first then used it to cut the tulle.

Even my slippers are ridiculous!
 I basted the main pieces and the underlining together before constructing the bodice as usual.

This was one of my most enjoyable sewing sessions to date. Seriously, I was squealing with glee!

I lined the bodice with a piece of beautiful blush silk gifted to me by the wonderful Julia.

I tend to buy 22" zips in bulk in several colours from Weaver Dee. I then cut them to size. After a zip disaster last New Year's Eve (I pulled the zipper off the bottom of the zip after I'd sewn it in hours before the party - cue Dave to the rescue! Does your significant other have to run to the rescue when things go horribly wrong too?) I always cover the bottom of the zip immediately after I shorten it. Functional and beautiful!

In hindsight, a lapped zip would have been the better choice, but it was a Sunday, and I was dying to get her finished for the party the following weekend. The invisible zipper gets a little stuck at the waist seam but otherwise isn't too much of a problem.

The rest of the dress came together beautifully, with much gleeful exclamation from me! Such a joyful sew - I love sewing something that you could never in your wildest dreams afford to buy ready made!

I hemmed the skirt with some pale pink cotton bias binding from my Grandma's notion stash. I hand stitched it in place to get a flawless finish.

I cut the main skirt so the finished edge of the fabric formed the hem, that way I could make the most of the beautiful embroidery and there was no need to finish it myself!

My dress form sits in the only space we could realistically have a Christmas tree. Therefore this year, she was the Christmas tree!

Far more beautiful than a christmas tree in my eyes! 
Anyway, here she is on...

I wore her to the Fold Line Party earlier on in the month (you can watch Gabby's video of the event here); to town on christmas eve and all day on Christmas day with my family!

Totally casual with a jumper right?!

I never want to look away- so shiny!

I'm yet to wear her to Morrisons - but I assure you, it will happen! I'll be spinning in the fruit aisle like...

Many thanks to Mini_adventure, Akathimberlina, Lady Sewalot and RedwSews for encouraging me to buy the fabric, and of course to Max and Julia for the lining fabrics!

I hope you all had a wonderful christmas and wishing you all a very happy new year!

Lots of love,

Vic xx

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Finally.... The bridesmaid dresses!

Following on from my last post......

With the Bride sorted it was time to think about the other ladies in the bridal party. We deliberated for a long time about colour and style. I advised a heavy crepe for beautiful, dramatic drape, but the colour was a problem! We started with prints, then to corals then full circle to navy blue (after a consultation with the Mother and Grandma of the Bride!). As you know, I am a colour lover through and through, and I have to admit I was a little worried about this choice. Sometimes navy can wash people out (well me at least!). However, when the bride turned up with the fabric at my door, it wiped all worries away. It was such a rich navy with a beautiful shimmer and paired with bright colours I knew it would look gorgeous! The ambition of colour was achieved.....

The wedding accessories. Flowers and hair piece by Roots Florel Designs. Bags and confetti by me

Photo Credit: Alex Dunderdale.

Next, the design. We turned to the other girls. I gave them a choice from 4 By Hand London patterns - the Anna, the Kim, the Flora and the Elisalex (P.S have you seen they have 25% off all pattern this weekend?!).  I, of course, chose my beloved Anna, another followed suit (after a little persuasion!) and the other girls wanted the Flora wrap bodice. All perfect choices for our beautiful drapey fabric. As the bridesmaids were dotted all over the country and one in France (!) I knew I would realistically only have one chance for an in-person fitting. I sewed up some toiles after the girls had sent over their measurements and popped them in the post for a Skype fitting.

All looked okay at this point so I tweaked the toiles a little and took them for their in-person fitting at the Hen do (you can read about the crafting I did for the hen do here).  The Anna fitted like a dream, but the dart positions on the wrap Flora were out on both girls. Once I was home I tried on the toiles myself and noted similar problems so I hoped if I fitted it to myself they would fit! With a little feedback from Elisalex and a little experimentation, I soon had a good fit (on me at least!). I moved the waist dart by 1" towards CF and widened the the bust dart. I then held my breath and cut into the beautiful lining (Regent Street from Moda available here).  I stabilised the neckline with some twill tape as suggested on the By Hand London sew along. This worked a dream at preventing any unsightly gaping on the big day.

I staggered the dresses, and I made mine first. After I had finished my bodice, I draped some skirt styles around myself. We had discussed a knee length skirt but at this point I thought the dress needed some more drama. So I cut myself a tea length half circle skirt. I tried it on and instantly knew it was the right decision. SO swishy!

After prancing around my living room, I decided I needed to line the skirts. I chose this gorgeous pale pink chiffon from Husqvarna studio in Bath. I let the lining and skirts hang overnight, and I am sure glad I did, just LOOK...

After I had evened out the hem, I used my rolled hem foot to finish the raw edge. Pretty beautiful if I do say myself!

I hand basted the zips before machine stitching. However, I still had some slight unsightly puckering down the back seam. I unpicked, tried stabilising with some light weight interfacing, and even purchased a walking foot. You name it I tried it. I had made it better, but at this point (a week before the wedding!) I decided that no one else would notice - I was right (at least I hope I was)! If anyone has any tips inserting zips into lightweight drapey fabrics (worse on a skirt cut on the bias?!) do let me know!

I hand stitched the bodice lining in place in the Annas and used some matching pale pink bias binding to enclose the waist seam in the Floras. I think this is the only photo I managed to snap of this...

Waiting to be hand finished at the hem.

Now I was ready for my finishing touches. I decided to hand-embroider the girl's names into each of the dresses in a matching pale pink thread.

I hemmed the main skirt using the same matching pink bias binding for a flash of colour as we walked or span.

Showing off to the lady of the moment.

And that was it...

Arriving on the big day with ALL the important dresses.
... or so I thought. 

It was the day before the wedding and the final fitting. I grabbed each of the girls to check the dresses fitted. Lesson learnt ... NEVER do a fitting the day before a wedding. One of the girls had been on holiday and the By Hand London patterns have very little ease! I was worried about the Floras, but they both fit perfectly... it was the Anna (a dream fit I said - Pah!). I needed to unpick the zip, and with no sewing machine, I had to re-sew the zip by hand. I had very little S/A to play with, but thankfully I had overlocked all the seams inside, or I think the bodice would have disintegrated! 

Oh... the stress. Photo Credit: Stu Chaplin.

We did one last fitting before dinner, and the dress would do up... just! I had a rather sleepless night (not due to Maid of honour speech nerves), but by some miracle, it fitted beautifully in the morning - that one sausage for breakfast really paid off eh?! ;) 

Four dresses that fit! Phew!
I had a spot more sewing to do on the morning of the wedding. I sewed a family heirloom into the bride's bouquet for luck.

Then we were ready!

Photography by Jake Baggaley

It was an absolute pleasure to sew these dresses for a wonderful friend on such a beautiful day. I couldn't have asked for better ladies to sew for. Lessons learnt and memories to be cherished. 

Until next time... sending lots of love and giggles,

Vic x

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Sewing my Best Friend's Veil.

On the first weekend of September, my Best Friend had a DIY wedding. Everyone chipped in, and it came together so beautifully. Seriously, one of the best days of my life and I spent most of it weeping, laughing or dancing (or all three!). I was given my chance to pull my weight as she asked me to make her Bridesmaid dresses. Of course, I kept my cool and obliged..... PAH, WHO AM I KIDDING??! SEWING FOR MY BEST FRIEND'S WEDDING.

But first, THE dress. We spent a day trying on dresses on in Bristol, and the Bride ended up falling in love with the very first dress she tried on! The dress had a romantic almost 'Georgian' feel, and she looked absolutely gorgeous in it. Originally she thought she wouldn't like a veil until we tried on a floor length cathedral veil. She looked so timeless I shed a tear (not surprising really, it does happen A LOT). She was converted. The veil she liked was plain and after glancing at the price tag I offered to make her one. It looked relatively simple, and I could save her a lot of money! The most challenging part was sourcing the tulle, and I found this blog post very useful. I knew I wanted something light weight with a beautiful drape but the idea was to save money - so silk tulles were out of the question!

After much deliberation, we ordered some plain Tulle from Joel and Son Fabrics. We went for this nude polyamide tulle to match the underlay of the bride's dress. We ordered 2m at a bargain price of £12.90 a metre. I crossed my fingers and hoped that the colour matched. I was lucky! It had a lovely drape and it hung beautifully too, pretty similar to English net I suspect. I was happy - I'd nailed the tricky bit!

I then simply sewed two lines of gathering stitches along the top of one edge and gathered as evenly as I could.

When I was happy I enclosed the raw edge with a hand stitch, in some satin gold bias binding to keep everything looking beautifully neat. 

I found this comb in my stash and sewed it to the veil by hand.

I waited to cut it to length when I visited for a manicure the day before the wedding. We tried it on with the dress, and I very carefully cut a curved hem just a little longer than the dress train (a little tricky for one so teary eyed!). The groom was prepping food in the kitchen so I had to keep the whimpering to a minimum.

That was it! Here it is in action on the big day...

Photo credit: Jake Baggaley
Photo Credit: David Cornish

More to follow on the Bridesmaid dresses later this week...

To be continued.

Lots of love, as always,

Vic x

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-changes, a baby and a dinosaur

Helloooo - I'm back after a short hiatus, and I have a lot to update you on. I have just returned from 2 weeks in Hong Kong, where I managed to meet up with Rhiannon (Rhiannon Brum) briefly for a fabric shopping trip (more on that in a later post). Very excitingly I have just accepted a job for a not-for-profit science communications company - I start tomorrow! I've had an amazing time pursuing dressmaking, and it is thrilling to know that I can make a living from it. The hand-to-mouth existence, and forging your way in the world is a very rewarding way of life, and it is something I am very glad I tried, but I will welcome my first monthly pay packet with open arms! It was time to reclaim my hobby and redefine the line between my vocation. However, I still hope to take on dress commissions and run my Etsy store. It is simply not sustainable for me to continue sewing at the rate I'd like to for myself alone.

This change is timely as we have just finalised designs for a new look for SewVee. Hopefully, my website will be up and running soon (depending on how quickly I can bribe my chap into action!). So watch this space.

Website loading...
Keeping the news theme going there has been a new addition to the family - I'm an Auntie (of sorts!). My Chap's Brother and his wife had their first baby in October. Of course, I was beside myself when they told me they were expecting and even more so when I met him.

Here I am trying to keep it together whilst holding a BAAAABBBBYYYY!
... and providing extra sensory stimulation for the little guy.
On the day I was born my lovely grandparents gave me a cuddly toy called Morris, named after my Grandpa. Of course Morris was a mouthful, so he soon became known as Momo. He has been with me ever since...

Here is the part where I admit as a 27 year old women I still take a teddy to bed. No shame. This is me pretty much still to this day...

Here he is drying after a wash:

You can see through him in parts, but he is clinging on. He now wears a shirt, after an impatient blow dry went wrong after a wash!

So I knew I wanted to sew our little new addition a cuddly toy in hope they may one day form a life-long bond like Momo and I. Fingers crossed (I can dream, no pressure little chap!). When issue 19 of Simply Sewing Magazine fell on my doorstep, I knew exactly what I wanted to make. I fell in love with this guy...

...A dinosaur plushie tutorial from Jo Carter. I had no idea if I could pull off something this professional looking but I thought I'd give it a damn good go! I headed straight over to Plush Addict to buy my supplies.

They came super fast, and they are such lovely quality. Seriously soft. So soft in fact, that it crossed my mind that I might not be able to part with the fruits of my labour.

I cut all the pattern pieces out and got stuck in. The instructions were clear and included tips for working with fabric with a pile (something I've only done once while sewing some velvet cushion covers with piping- no easy feat!).

It wasn't long before I had a head, and eager to boast, I sent my chap an update... which evolved into this rather hilarious exchange:

Attaching the head to the body was the trickiest bit as you had to get everything lined up nicely. But soon he was ready for his stuffing!

After stuffing, I was a little horrified at the shape of his face! Then I read on and realised you shape the face using some stitches between the eyes. This took him from a little flat faced and terrifying to pretty bloody cute if I do say myself! Finally, before giving him life I made a little velvet heart and embroidered it with my nephew's date of birth.

Posing with the heart before the op! 

Finally, the first meeting...

 ...I'm not sure he is smitten yet! Fingers crossed for a life long bond, and I'm hoping she (?) might take my namesake....Victoria the Dinosaur!

As always, sending you all lots of love and thank you for reading


Vic xxx