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Dresses for weddings…

8 Aug

I decided back in March, as I had 3 wedding to attend this year, I could make a dress & knit a cardigan and wear the outfit to all 3 weddings, simple! I selected the fabric and bought it on a fabric trip to Birmingham &  Guthrie and Ghani with the lovely Jem Weston who was shopping for her actual wedding top fabric (Jem’s wedding being wedding no.2 for me this year)  – you can read Jem’s post about the fabric trip here.  Jem’s friend Rosie also bought lovely fabric to make a dress for Jem’s wedding (looking forward to seeing the finished dress). Obviously I then headed to Knit Nottingham to select a lovely summery yarn to go with the gorgeous fabric.

Fabric and yarn - nettynot blog.jpg

I had already decided which dress I wanted to make, having made a Lilou dress (from Love and first Stitch by Tilly and the Buttons) for a previous wedding a couple of years ago I knew I wanted to make a sleeveless dress but I also didn’t want to cover up the lovely flower print with pleats so decided to make the skirt gathered and also add pockets so I used the bottom half of the Emery dress by Christine Haynes, which I’d also made and wore to a wedding 2 years ago.


I knew I needed to do a bit more work on the fit of the lilou bodice as my first dress wasn’t perfect, doesn’t look too bad here, but I re-tried it on and it’s not great. Too roomy over the bust and sat awkwardly over the shoulders so I made a few small tweaks to the pattern and cut a smaller size. I had help from Jem and Rosie (different Rosie) at our knit group’s spin off  sewing gathering, getting the darts fitting my shape better. I made these adjustments, whether they were the right things to do or not I’m not sure….
– Graded from size 3 at shoulders to size 4 at the waist and curved the side seems.
– Took 2.5cm out of the bodice length (I have a short torso, I did this to the first dress too).
– curved the darts inwards on the back.
– extended the back darts by 2cm.
– cut down the arm holes by 0.5cm.
– Trimmed 1cm off the back pieces graded from sides to center back.

I was feeling apprehensive about the over all fit, so decided to buy some cheep polycotton from the market and did a full (wearable) toile. I’m glad I did, it didn’t turn out too badly, it fitted and looked ok. The fabric felt cheap and a bit crinkly, however it did resolve an issue, which was that it wasn’t so much that it didn’t fit me ,more that I just didn’t like the fit, if that that makes sense; I realised I wasn’t a fan of the strap positioning, they come in too much on the shoulders highlighting that fleshy underarm bit and exposing my bra straps at the sides (I don’t think it helped that I think the finished dress is actually a touch too small). Please bare in mind that these photos were taken at the end of a long day (at wedding no 1 –  my Boyfriend’s bothers wedding), complete with frizzy rained on hair, (I was literally about to crash into bed and then thought…quick get a photo of the dress – as you do – and stuck my feet back into my shoes – these were the best ones :/ …. second photo was just to show off the pockets & the lilac lining)!

Having deciding that the Lilou dress was for me or my lovely posh fabric, I didn’t have the time to make a toile of an entirely new bodice, before wedding 1 hence wearing the polycotton toile, which wasn’t so bad.  Also doing this meant I didn’t have to rush to finish knitting my cardigan as it didn’t go with the fabric I’d used. Instead I had a look though my existing hand knits and found a navy lace cotton wrap cardigan I’d knitted to wear at yet another friends wedding about 5 years ago (YES there’s a definitely theme here). I haven’t worn the cardigan much since as it slips off my shoulders A LOT, so decided to address this and I unpicked the edging, resewing it back on, making a shorter edge. I also added some ribbon in  between the shoulder seams inside, to help stop it slouching off any more. This worked well and with the wedding being pre-heat wave at the start of June I wore it all day (this will be a test to see if my boyfriend reads my blog, he’s not a fan of having his photo taken, I happen to think this is a lovely photo – despite my mad/unruly hair).

At the Wedding - Nettynot Blog

I also made a necklace to match. Based on a workshop I designed for work; Mandala Pendant.

Necklace to macth dress - nettynot blog

I felt the lilou dress making was a useful exercise. I often find dressmaking incredibly frustration (unlike knitting which I find incredibly relaxing). This is because I had delusions about making my own dresses, that it would mean they would fit beautifully, and that is sort of true, but not without a huge amount of work and I don’t have enough of an understanding or experience yet to know how to adapt patterns to fit me well.  I’m an odd, short pear shape (which is fine). I often increase from shoulders to waist by 1 size and then waist to hip another size, I have a short torso and a bust size smaller than most patterns cater for – that’s a lot of adapting.  I’m not confident enough to do a small bust adjustment yet and so have managed to adjust darts and side seams enough to take out the volume needed.  I realise this will come with practice and experience (and a lot of patience) but I do find it exasperation sometimes – if anyone has words of wisdom on this subject or similar experiences I’d love to hear them!

My new dress for Jem’s wedding is almost complete now and fitting quite well (whooh, *happy dance/prance*), so I will write a post about that soon too.

Thanks for reading.
Steph

 

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Patchwork Cushion

9 Aug

I have written a whole blog post about the chair I made this cushion (it was a slight tangent, but a lovely nostalgic one for me). However my original intention was to write about the cushion. I have made many things over the years and not documented them, I used to be able to remember the majority, however I find I stumble across old photos and think, oh I’d forgotten all about that skirt/bag/jumper I’d made. So I’m making a more concerted effort to document things, which Instagram has made easier to do, but I also like to use my blog as a notebook to myself as to the challenges/issues I encounter and had to resolve along the way. That said, although I do plan most of my project, at least to begin with, there is a considerable degree of  let’s just give it ago and see what happens.

I love a bit of Patchwork, and although it’s time consuming I do really like English paper piecing, which I hadn’t done for while after finishing the mammoth task of my Mum’s quilt. However I thought this would be a little project. I sketched a few ideas quite small to begin with and once I found an idea I was happy with I enlarged it and drew it out on some wall paper lining. I quite enjoy the Maths involved with patterns and pieces, I probably enjoyed this process as much as the actual making.

Paper piece template cushion - Nettynot Blog

Once I had my piece draw, in theory all the same shapes should be the same size, so it shouldn’t matter which pieces I sew together along as they are the right pieces, however learning from previous mistake I knew I really needed to be putting the pieces back together in exactly the way I cut them up, as it only takes a few of them to be a millimeter or so out to make it really awkward sewing them together later on (& I’m only human after all). So I numbered each piece and took a photo on my phone, for reference, before cutting up the template.

I often struggle to find enough time to get stuck into a project like this in one big chunk, so I decided I’d try to do the tacking and sewing of 1 set of shapes each evening for a week, so that it didn’t feel like it took too long to complete.

English Paper Piece - round Cushion cover - nettynot blog

It took me longer to decide what to do with back and get my act together to complete it. That didn’t go quite to plan, but I made it work in the end (sort of). I think the errors here were not measuring and cutting properly. I sewed strips of fabric together and made a cardboard template for the triangular shape, which really isn’t accurate enough when using a rotary cutter  (lesson learnt).

Cushion Back - Nettynot blog

The seams didn’t match up on the back terribly well, so I unpicks a couple of seams and tweaked it enough that it doesn’t stand out like a sore thumb, but in the process it had the central two hexigans wonky, I would have prefer them to be symmetrical as intended however it’s not too bad and everyone (hopefully) will be looking at the front and not the back. That said I did get the invisible zip in evenly, though not so invisible with the fabric stretched slightly.

Cushion Back with zip - Nettynot blog

I do like the finished result, and it is the bold eye catching design I had in mind, influenced slightly by the leather 70’s pouffes seen in many retro and vintage shops. However if I was going make one again I would make the cover larger, whenever I make a square cushion cover I make it slightly smaller as it makes for a better plump finish, no one wants floppy cushion, I applied the same principal here, wrongly as I think it looks a little too tight and puckered at the edge. I think even just an extra half inch all round would have made a nicer fit.


I also might try to be clever next time and make a convex shaped cover to eliminate the puckering on the back…..hmmmm the cogs are whirring on that one already.

Thanks for reading.
Steph

Silver Art Clay Day

30 Apr

Since discovering that I teach Silver Art Clay workshops I’ve been asked by a couple of friends whether I’d show them how to make something. I casually said “Yer sure…” then a few more friends asked and so a date was set! I hired the workshop space at The Bead Shop and last Sunday got set up to show everyone.

I feel here I should tell you what Art Clay actually is; Silver Art Clay is mouldable clay make out of recycled pure silver, water and an organic binder. You can shape and manipulate the clay however you like and once it’s fired (the binder burns off and the water evaporates) you are left with pure silver – magical really! It’s popularity increased hugely after it was featured on Kirstie Allsopp‘s “Kirstie’s Homemade Home” series several years ago, although I seem to remember Kirstie’s items weren’t overly successful, she and many others watching, were blown away by this wonderful material.

Our Art Clay Day; I did a quick demo to begin, then found out what everyone wanted to make, guided them in the right direction and off they all went.

Everyone busy - Nettynot BlogI had to stop myself going into full on teaching mode, as it was a relaxed craftanoon and I was giving everyone free rein, after all we have a small picnic set up too and I was technically NOT at work –  there’s always more to do than I anticipate, with “does this look alright”, drilling holes and antiquing finished pendants, it all got a little busy towards the end. But it was ALL worth it! I find it immensely satisfying to teach someone a new skill and help them to create a unique piece of jewellery from scratch and it’s even better when you’re showing your friends! (sorry for the cheese – but it is true!)

No cheese here though, probably the only thing we didn’t have…mmm.
Picnic - Nettynot blogHere’s some pieces in progress, Margaret brought along a collection of vintage sugar craft cutters which make great pendant shapes. Rebecka took inspiration from her background in textiles and started weaving clay together and Jem went free form, creating lots of different pieces, look out on her blog for a post soon showing off her finished pieces.

Art Clay in progress - Nettynot BlogThere was much excitement as everything went into the kiln…
Pre-firing Art Clay - Nettynot BlogHere’s some of the wonderful makes! Lots of different bits n pieces – makes me happy! Anyone who is familiar with some of Amy Blackwell’s illustrations might spot her distinctive style in the form of a lovely hand.
Kiln ready - art clay firing - nettynot blog I do like a good before and after shot – although my camera was misbehaving for the finished jewellery.

Finished Art Clay Pieces - Nettynot BlogEverything was a bit too shiny for my camera, however I’ve pinched a few photos from the others, which show of the detail much better.
Some finished Items - Nettynot BlogYou can achieve so much with Silver Art Clay, it’s a wonderful material. It allows you to make anything from stunning sculptural pieces to simple items with imprinted texture. Once an item is fired you can sand and polish a piece until you get a mirror finish, giving it a high end ‘bought from a posh jewellers’ look. However I’m much more in favour of something that’s been handmade retaining a handmade element. When I finish an item I tend to give it a quick burnish, to highlight all the raised detail, which contrasts well with the matte surface of the lower detail – simple yet effective.

Rebecka’s woven pendant above was antiqued using liver of sulphur, which oxidises the surface (basically speeding up the tarnishing process), she then polished over the raised areas creating that wonderful contrast and highlighting the detail.

Button Charm - Nettynot Blog

I found a bit of time to utilise a mould I’d made from a metal button and created a small charm pendant. This is the kind of small project that’s very achievable and a great way of replicating something.

Thanks for reading!

A Colourful Birthday

10 Aug

It was inevitable and last week it happened….. I turned 30 – eek!  I had a great time, celebrations made it across 2 weeks – well why not?

30th Birthday Card made by Jem Weston - Nettynot Blog

Given that my small family are spread about the country, I gathered them up for lunch and a potter around Chatsworth gardens on a lovely Sunny Sunday afternoon – the gardens were a colourful delight!

Chatsworth Gardens - Nettynot Blog

I have always wanted to do a Murder Mystery and decided my birthday would be the perfect opportunity. So having looked at several options I decided hosting it at home and getting everyone to dress up from the 80’s would make my day! It did! Everyone made so much effort and I was thrilled. I also rather enjoyed making 80’s decorations and biscuits (yes, they’re rubik’s cube biscuits, and yes, they took ages – but worth it)!

80's Murder Mystery - Nettynot Blog

My wonderful crafty friends got me a fantastic present! They all chipped in and got me a place on the Amy Butler Colour story workshop held at the NEC as the Festival of Quilts was getting set up! It was a great day, I went along with my good friend Jem Weston and had a fun and relaxed day cutting and sticking bits of paper and fabric creating our own unique colour boards. (You can read Jem’s blog post about the workshop here).
  Jem, Amy Butler and I - Nettynot BlogMy Colour Story - Amy Butler - Nettynot Blog

I love Amy Butler’s bright vibrant patterns, so it was fascinating hearing all about her design process and where her colour inspiration comes from and how she creates her own colour collages to inform her new collections. Her latest collection called ‘Glow’ is out in the UK very soon, it was great to get a close up look on the day. My favourite fabric from the collection reminds me a little of the 80’s – in a good way – bright and bold!
Amy Butler - Glow collection - Nettynot Blog

What made my day later in the week was Amy’s Instagram image from our workshop day featuring me and a small section of my collage – slightly over excited – eeep!!!
Amy Butler's Photo CollageYou can follow Amy on Facebook here.

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