Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Monochrome Morris & Girl Charlee Discount!

I've been wearing a lot of monochrome recently (maybe I'm running a temperature) and decided it was high time I made something monochrome too. The opportunity presented itself when Girl Charlee Fabrics got in touch about reviewing their jersey. I instantly fell in love with their triangle ponte (it's no longer in stock sadly, but they have many more gorgeous ponte prints on offer) and knew immediately that I wanted to make Grainline Studio's Morris Blazer.

Let's talk fabric first, shall we? Just like the triangle stag print jersey I tried out before, Girl Charlee's triangle and plain black ponte is a lovely quality and handles beautifully - both pieces washed, cut and sewed up perfectly for me. I also can't stop waxing lyrical about the range of jersey and prints they have! Better still, they're offering my lovely readers a 15% discount for two weeks, so hop on over to Girl Charlee Fabrics and use ODYSSEY until 21 October!

Moving onto the pattern next, Grainline Studio's Morris Blazer. What made it so attractive was the prospect of sewing something other than a dress, that was a bit more involved, but not too involved. A huge selling point was that the pdf is only 28 pages with relatively few pattern pieces. Jen's written instructions are top class as always, so this sewed up remarkably fast. I did, however, struggle with some of the diagrams as I found them a little too 'zoomed' into the detail and out of context. It's probably just an issue with my brain to be seems to work in mysterious ways!  

Sizing wise, I cut a 6 across the shoulders and an 8 elsewhere. I'm really inspired by Katie's boyfriend version of the Morris Blazer, so if I attempt her hack next I too will grade to a size 10 at the hem.

I'm pretty pleased with my pattern matching on the back seam and I like how raw edges are neatly concealed, despite Morris being unlined. I also like the pointy, dipped front with interesting stitching detail.

The long and short of it is, that I really dig my Morris Blazer. The design details, the cropped length, the monochrome...everything about it makes me feel rather cool!

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

September #VintagePledge Roundup

Friends, can you believe we're three quarters through this year's Vintage Sewing Pattern Pledge?!? How are you getting on with your makes? Over 300 pins to our #vintagepledge board suggests that you're doing swimmingly! I'm four makes down with one to go, but I'm hoping I'll exceed my own expectations to make up for falling short last year.   

Your Makes in September

How Tasha managed to make a sarong dress out of a 1950s bralet pattern is beyond me, but I the result is pure bombshell genius!

Angela also achieved stunning results by hacking. She added a kimono style top to her 1960s jumpsuit pattern and the forest green, wool crepe she used couldn't be more perfect. 

If you could capture the essence of Summer with a dress, then Carolanne has done a sterling job with her breezy take on a 1960s dress pattern.

I long to fill my wardrobe with stylishly simple tops like this one by Charlotte. She used a vintage reproduction pattern and I think the result is so, so wearable.

Last, but certainly not least, Jo made a cute little jacket! She overcame her fabric issues by choosing a luxurious lining, so it looks just as beautiful on the inside as it does on the outside.

September's #VintagePledge Posts

We also enjoyed a generous discount and giveaway. Simplicity offered up a 25% discount on their vintage reproduction pattern range and Beyond Measure gave away a £30 voucher to one lucky winner...who is Bec from Bows and Bunnies! Congratulations Bec!!! I'll pass your details onto Grace who will arrange your voucher.

Share your #VintagePledge Makes

Kerry and I have an exciting 'end-of-year' competition to reveal in October, but in the meantime please keep those gorgeous makes coming in. You can send us photos and blog links by leaving us a comment and emailing us, or just tag #vintagepledge when you share your makes on social media.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Thank You So Much!

Wow, you guys! Charlotte and I are totally overwhelmed and deeply moved by the response to my last post, not only on this blog, but also on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. We can't thank you enough for your kind words and well-wishes. The love and support we've received so far, will stand us in good stead in the face of future challenges. We may not be able to reply to every single comment, but please know that we've poured over each one, which in turn has left us feeling warm and fuzzy inside.

I also wanted to assure you that normal 'service' will resume again soon. I'm slowly working my way through three sewing projects and have many more in the pipeline!

What are you working on at the moment? 

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Loving A Person, Not Their Gender...

Did you ever read Social Media and the Myth of PerfectionWearing History's thought-provoking post back in May really resonated with me, especially the part where she shared old blog pictures coupled with a brief description of what was really going on in her life at the time. About 19 months ago, my beautiful girlfriend (my then boyfriend) told me she is transgender, meaning the gender she was assigned at birth didn't match how she felt inside. The first couple of months were tough on us both - for her finally admitting and accepting her truth, and for me getting to grips with what it meant for our future. Truth be told, I still feel a little melancholy looking back at photos from that time, especially the ones in this post and this post, where I was feeling at my absolute lowest. Yet, you probably would never have guessed something was up, right? It's a great reminder for me to think of the human behind the blogger, no matter how polished a blogger might appear. Not that I count myself as a polished blogger by the way!

As a firm believer that life is too short to live a lie, I've been supportive of my girlfriend from day one. But her news left me struggling to see how our nine-year relationship could continue. As someone who identifies as heterosexual living in a heteronormative society, I was unsure when she asked me to continue to love her and not her gender. I can't tell you how happy I am that I delved into educating myself on transgender matters, speaking to people with experience and generally opening my mind like never before.

With my existential crisis under control, it all boiled down to the fact that this beautiful human being had carried this burden with her since her early teens, so I'm just grateful that she finally addressed it and trusted me with it. She started her medical transition just over a year ago with Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) and over the next  few months and years there will be other changes too. Our recent trip to Spain was so she could undergo Facial Feminisation Surgery. It was gruelling (for us both), but she's recovering really well and is looking incredible already! If you've been a long-standing fan of my partner's hilarious comments about my makes, fear not, for Charlotte is just as honest and opinionated!

As you can imagine, I've learned an awful lot over the last 19 months. I'm truly grateful to have met some wonderful friends through this journey and to have had the opportunity to grow as a person too. I've also heard heartbreaking stories of the many transgender people who have suffered abuse, rejection, loss...all for daring to be true to themselves. It makes me all the more grateful for the love and support of all of our friends and family...without them, this journey would have been much harder for us both.

Being transgender isn't a choice, but choosing to transition in a society that still has a long way to go in embracing diversity is incredibly brave. For this reason alone, I've never felt prouder of my excruciatingly shy Charlotte, who has faced her journey to date with a lot of patience and grace.

By the way, in case you've been wondering about the shirts pictured above, this post has everything to do with sewing! Initially, I liked the idea of holding on to memories of my partner by using old shirts to create a 'memorial' quilt, much like Handmade Jane did beautifully here and here. But I've realised that I don't want to mourn a person who is still very much alive and well. We still have our cherished memories and we're busy creating more.

I did hold on to two shirts though...because double gauze is just too good to part with. Charlotte's pretty slim so they're certainly not big enough to refashion for myself, but if we do decide to have children down the line I can use them to make something sweet and snuggly then.

I'm also way more excited about the prospect of making clothes for Charlotte now than I ever was before, so watch this space. I mean, I'm still too selfish to go all out, but the odd present now and again might be nice. I started how I mean to go on earlier this year, by making her double gauze, hippo-print pyjama bottoms for Valentine's Day. Aren't they cute?!? 

It's been a rollercoaster of a journey so far, but the most important lesson I've learned, is that it's absolutely possible to love a person and not their gender. Love is just love. If it's genuine and strong, it doesn't change or diminish just because circumstances have.

Anyway, if you've made it to the end of this epic post, then thank you. To find out more about the challenges transgender people often face and why it's absolutely crucial that we show support and understanding, please watch this feature on Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.

Friday, 18 September 2015

Fabric Friday #12: Electric-blue Wool Crepe

Happy #FabricFriday friends! Gosh, it feels like an awful long time since I last wrote that, but boy do I have a corker to share with you today! 

I pounced lightning fast on this electric-blue beauty when I saw her in a local vintage shop. At first I was drawn to the unusual floral print and stunning colour, which is so incredibly vibrant considering it's likely to be from the 1950s, but then I touched it and fell even deeper in love. This is no ordinary electric-blue beauty...she's a luxurious wool crepe and she knows it! You can see her in action over on Instagram, where I tried to capture the sensuous way she drapes. 

Needless to say, I'm head over heels. But I'm also terrified of the prospect of cutting into her. Like, truly terrified! I think I'm going to hang on to her until I find the perfect pattern and until I feel my sewing skills are worthy of her.  

In the meantime it's fun to daydream, so tell me, what would you make with this exquisite fabric?

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

#VintagePledge Stash Interview: Delphine Delovely

Today, I'm delighted that Deli of Delphine Delovely is sharing her pattern stash as part of #vintagepledge. Deli is a London-based dressmaker, specialising in modern reproductions of 1940s and 1950s designs using original patterns. She's also a sewing teacher, teaching in dressmaking classes in London and at The Knitting and Stitching Shows.

Sewing started out as a hobby for Deli and quickly turned into a passion as she began making her own dresses to fit her personal vintage style. It has also evolved into a small business that fits nicely around her other role as Mum to two young boys.

Over to you Deli...

How and when did you start collecting vintage sewing patterns?

I have always had a love of sewing and like to dress with a nod to the past, so I began to sew my own clothes 4 years ago. I started out buying vintage reproduction patterns and vintage style patterns from independent designers as they were easy to find, cheap and multi-sized.

I bought my first vintage Simplicity pattern on a whim in Greenwich Market. It was too small for my measurements, but I loved the style of the dress and the illustration on the envelope. As soon as I opened the pattern I could smell the distinctive smell of the ageing pattern tissue and I knew I was opening history, I can’t help but wonder who owned the pattern originally, what fabric they used to make the dress, and the occasion it was made for. I was hooked!

When I first started collecting patterns I soon realised I needed to learn how to resize and alter the single size patterns to fit me (most of the patterns I own are 2-3 dress sizes smaller than my measurements) so I've built up an impressive collection of text books to go alongside my pattern stash!

How many patterns do you have and how do you store them?

I have around 180 vintage patterns, 25 reproduction patterns and quite a few PDFs.

I dream of finding an antique pattern storage unit from an old haberdashery shop, but I’ve yet to find one so for now I use clear plastic storage boxes! My sewing room also doubles as my boys' playroom so I have to go for the practical option over anything pretty.

I put all my patterns into sealable plastic sleeves to protect the delicate envelopes. It means I can still see the envelope clearly and I can also flick through the patterns without worrying about damaging them. 

When it comes to using the patterns I’m keen to preserve them in their original state. I gently press the pattern tissue under silk organza, then trace and copy all pattern pieces onto lightweight interfacing, or photocopy smaller pieces, and work from the copies. I then store the copied pieces in large envelopes with a copy of the pattern envelope stuck to the front.

What attracts you to collect the patterns you have?

I collect patterns for both myself and for my business, so I may see a pattern which isn’t to my personal taste, but I know could appeal to others so I’ll buy it. Who am I kidding?! I’m a pattern addict that is easily swayed!

I read a lot of vintage sewing blogs and I’m a member of a number of online vintage sewing groups, where I often see wonderful makes that inspire me. If there is a dress or outfit I really love I’ll do a search online for the particular pattern or see if I can find another one like it. Likewise if I see a dress I love in a vintage publication or a film, I head to Google and try and track down a pattern that’s similar.

Pattern envelope illustrations also really appeal to me. The covers are a historical insight into the fabric prints and colour palettes used, and also the styling of the outfits with accessories of that particular era.

Vintage patterns tend to have more details – pleating, pin tucks, collars, shaping, draping – than modern patterns, and I particularly love how many of them include an additional pattern for a bolero or jacket to make a complete outfit.

Do you have any favourite style era?

I absolutely love the styles of the 1940s; from the more streamlined styles of the war years, to Christian Dior’s New Look of the later 40s, where dress silhouettes grew bigger as fabric was more easily available.

I’m fascinated by the history of this era, and recently visited the Fashion on the Ration exhibition at The Imperial War Museum in London. I was mesmerised by the dresses on display, and the story behind the wartime Make Do and Mend campaign. Dresses from this era were designed to use as little fabric as possible, which is handy when I’m out shopping and spy the perfect fabric; I know I can buy 3 metres and have plenty to make a gorgeous dress!

I do also love 1950s outfits, big skirts with petticoats underneath and classic cocktail dresses, but I don’t tend to make as many outfits from this era. 

What’s the oldest pattern in your collection and have you made it?

My oldest pattern is Simplicity 1621 from1945. It’s a three piece beachwear pattern with a cropped peasant blouse, bubble hem shorts and a skirt. I haven’t made it as I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t look anything like the bathing beauties on the envelope! I have a few other vintage beach and loungewear patterns from the 1940s too and think it’s amazing just how fabulous the ladies looked for a trip to the beach back then!

Can you pick three favourites - and have you made them?

Advance 7817 – a jumpsuit pattern from the 1950’s. I made this in floral cotton sateen, and it looked amazing!

Bestway 2793 – a stunning frock coat which I believe to be late 1940s or early 1950s. I made this as a wedding dress for a client from silk dupion and a panel of embroidered silk she had bought on her travels to the Far East. This is my favourite pattern I own and I hope to make it for myself in a black silk taffeta. It was my biggest sewing challenge to date and I used many vintage sewing techniques to make it, including 11 bound buttonholes.

Butterick 6239 – a reproduction 1940’s pattern which is the last pattern I bought. I got it with the intention of making a dress to wear at The Goodwood Revival, but I loved it so much I made two, one for each day of the festival!

Is there a pattern you think you'll never make but will never get rid of?

I'm a hoarder! I don’t think I could get rid of any of my patterns, but there are plenty I won’t make. I’d love to create the wardrobe of my dreams, but I’d need an infinite supply of gorgeous fabrics, which I sadly can’t afford!

The Vintage Sewing Pattern Pledge has helped me build up my wardrobe a bit more though as I’ve made the effort to choose patterns I wouldn’t usually have considered making. With 3.5 months of the year left I’ve still got 3 outfits to make to fulfil my pledge, so that’s my birthday, Christmas and New Year’s Eve outfits sorted!

Where do you get your patterns from?

Alongside the usual outlets – Etsy and ebay – I also keep an eye out for patterns at markets and charity shops. I’m a bit useless at finding anything good though as I’m not one to be up at the crack of dawn to get to the markets early!

I inherited my Nana’s pattern collection when she passed away, and have also been gifted a bundle of lovely patterns that used to belong to a friend’s grandma.

I’m also a member of a few pattern sale groups online where I’ve been able to find some gems.

Marie, thank you so much for letting me share a selection of my pattern stash with everyone. It’s been great fun, and I’m now inspired to make some of the patterns I’ve featured in this post!

Thanks so much Deli! It was a pleasure getting to know you and your pattern stash, you're one talented lady.

Make sure you check out #vintagepledge on Pinterest for copious amounts of inspiration!

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Triangle Stag Print Agnes Top

A few weeks back I was contacted by the folks at Girl Charlee in the UK, asking if they could tempt me with any of their jersey prints in return for a review. Tempting me was the easy part, as they stock the best variety of knits I've seen in a while, but picking out a favourite was really hard. So hard that they took pity on me and sent me a selection.

The first to jump my sewing queue was this super cool triangle stag print, which you'll be pleased to hear comes in a couple of other colourways too! I immediately knew I wanted to pair it with the lovely Agnes, the most recent knit top pattern from Tilly and the Buttons, and I love the result...

The jersey was an absolute dream to work with, behaving beautifully and feeling cotton-rich on the skin. You can really see it's good quality, and satisfyingly, it doesn't curl up when cut or hemmed. The stags are few and far between, so you may need to think carefully about where you want them to appear on your make. I ended up with less on the front than I would have liked, but I've got one on each sleeve that I like to pretend are bad-ass bicep tattoos! 

I don't usually finish my seams when working with jersey, but I couldn't resist pinking the neckline seam to match the triangle print. I know, I know...such a geek!

I made the simplest Agnes I could for maximum wearability, but I'd love to try out the sweet ruching options for future versions. The pattern is everything you'd expect from Tilly and although I didn't need to follow the instructions, they look as comprehensive and clear as always. 

Size wise I'll make a few changes next time. I did what I usually do with Tilly's patterns, grading from a size 3 for the shoulders and neckline, to a size 4 for the sleeves down to the waist, and finally to a size 5 through the hips. But I ended up having to reduce the seam allowances for the sleeves and down to the waist because my Agnes was too tight on the arms and across the bust. So next time I think I'll make a size 5 all over and just grade down to a size 4 for the neckline and shoulders.

Anyway, get yourself down to Girl Charlee now and check out their awesome prints. They come in a variety of weights perfect for the colder weather, including Ponte de Roma, Hacci Sweater Knit, Sweatshirt Fleece, and French Terry Knit!