31 January 2014

A Foxy Friday Treasury

Someone on Facebook linked the most amazing handmade Fox sweater dress today and I love it so much it promted me into a bit of a Foxy Etsy spiral. So I made this treasury to not only share this amazing find, but also lots of other amazingly cute Foxy things which you can find on Etsy:

The Treasury can be found here


I hope you like my little foxy treasury. I am glad I now have some of these are bookmarked for later! I have a real hankering to make some pjs out of the cloud9 fabric, but its quiet expensive for just lounge pants really.

27 January 2014

Sewing for your Style Pt II plus Georgia Sewalong

Following on from the post I did a couple of weeks about about sewing for your style I wrote up a list of the types of things which I generally look for when buying clothes on the highstreet. I think it will be useful to have this when thinking about picking up fabric for future makes, as I am more likely to make something which I would actually consider buying.


My style list goes as follows:

Colours:
  • Blacks
  • Greys
  • Browns
  • Pinks
  • Reds
  • Turqouise
  • Black & White
  • Cream
Patterns:
  • Leopard
  • Zebra
  • Stripes
  • Hearts
  • Stars
  • Polka Dot
  • Tartan
  • Chevrons
Fabrics:
  • Jersey
  • Velvet
  • Lace
  • Tulle
  • Stretch
  • Cotton
  • Denim
 I have also decided to join in the upcoming sewalong for the Georgie dress by By Hand London which is starting on Monday so I have my pattern and am raring to go.

I am thinking/hoping that that lips fabric might be perfect for this dress. It has some stretch which will be great for the fitted pattern, but also has an awesome bold print to add a little bit of personal character! Plus, I have seen quiet a few items on the highstreet lately in lips print, so check me out, bang on trend! 

25 January 2014

Glittery Goodness - Thank you Blogcademy

I was recently the very fortunate winner of one of the left over fabulous goodie bags from the Blogcademy. The one reason I entered this competition was the sheer about of glitter that I could see on the site. Feast your magpie eyes on this lot!


This fabulous treat included glitter shoe clips (which I have decided are my new favorite accessory), glitter hair accessories (including my now second pair of sparkly cat ears from Crown and Glory), sparkly necklaces, glitter nail polish, pretty purses, a gorgeous hand crocheted scarf, goodies from Iron Fist including a tee, a bag, some nail art as well as some other bits and bobs. This really was a bloody good haul!


Ever since Mr Fox proposed I have been following Kat's blog: Rock and Roll Bride because quiet honestly I have not seen a better blog out there for alternative weddings. There is everything you can imagine on there so lots of inspiration to help you get designing your own wedding. But not only is it packed with all this useful wedding invitation Kat is a completely savvy woman, with great style, who gives away no end of her advice and sassy style. It really is a pleasure to read, and I still follow the blog way after the wedding.

 One of her other successful ventures is the Blogcademy which she co-runs with some more extraordinary women Gala and Shauna. These guys truly are amazing, not only do they get to do something they love for a living, but they are more than happy to share their tips and advice with the blogging community to help everyone else with their loves as well! How cool is that! This has become something invaluable to me over the last few months while developing this blog, and I continue to gets useful information from this page and likely will for a long time to come!


So, I realise I might be becoming a bit stalker-ish of these sites, but who can blame me really! And here's hoping that one day I might be rich enough to actually attend one of the Blogcademy events in London to help me to develop my blog into something which I, and hopefully you, really really love (not to mention more sparkly goodies...!).

So thank you Blogcademy xx

20 January 2014

Victory! for AVA

I am proud to present.... my Black and White Ava Peplum:


Thankfully we had a lovely sunny January Sunday over here and while Mr Fox was slaving away at his dissertation on the laptop downstairs I thought I would use the time to finish off my black and white Ava peplum. It also meant I got to take some piccies indoors. This is my very first make of 2014 and has taken a little while due to me working a lot of overtime to try and pay for Christmas. I think this is 'officially' the start to my sewing blog, and my attempt at making myself a wardrobe and so I wanted to make sure I took the time over it. Not to mention make sure it is 'sewn for my style' as I have previously been posting about.


The main fabric is a black and white striped poplin and the top a black spotted tulle. I really like the two together, and especially like the black and white look with my in your face hair! I am however most pleased with the binding. I was dreading this, and was convinced I would end up with a wonky neck line or something but it went really well (smug face!) I was going for 'chic office attire' when I thought about making the peplum version.

About the pattern: AVA by Victory Pattern

You get a tissue pattern, and a little booklet explaining the construction of this dress. It comes in three lengths: Peplum, Knee, and Tea dress. Although I had to re-read a few of the steps over until they made sense this was a very simple pattern to follow. This might be down to my in-experience, but i see that as a positive thing as if I can get it, as a relatively new pattern follower, then anyone can.The only really tricky bit about this pattern is sewing the upper and lower bodice pieces at the sweat heart neckline. I really don't have any good tips for this other than practice, mine if far from perfect.

(sorry about the boob shot, but I wanted to show you the neckline)

Alterations: As previously mentioned I lengthened the body by about 5cm to have it sit a bit nearer my natural waist. I also extended the darts on the back bodice piece by a couple of cm as I do have quiet a small back. I also took in the side seams by about a presser foots width. I think my previous comments about learning to do an FBA might also help this pattern as it gapes a little bit under the arms, which I think would be solved by some side bust darts. But its not so bad that I can't live with it.

I am really pleased with this top over all. I am not sure if the stripes are not too busy, and I think this would be much better in something that has a better drape than a poplin. But hopefully this will make it into my summer work wardrobe.

The plan all along has been to make the knee length version of this dress and so I have purchased some black fabric which hangs a lot better. And so I will get going on this shortly whilst I await the start of the Georgia sew-along. 

18 January 2014

So why knit a jumper, or make anything else yourself for that matter?

I'm not going to lie to you, the wool alone for the jumper I am knitting cost me in excess of £50! I know it's ludicrous right. Thankfully I justified this as a Christmas crafty treat to myself, but it's certainly not something which I could afford to do on a regular basis.



It's not just this project, but a lot of the wool companies out there charge quiet a bit for a ball of wool. This is usually a result of the wool content used, where you will generally find that you pay more the higher % pure wool the ball contains. You can usually get a cheaper alternative wool, something which contains a higher acrylic %, or if you are savvy you can sometimes find a bargain on discontinued colours, or the last of a certain dye lot. It is worth doing some research on alternative options if money is an issue for you. 

Then you need to take into consideration the (wo)man hours which have to be put into a knitting project, and not to mention the sweat and tears when you make a mistake and have to undo a chunk of your hard work. 

The same can be said for a lot of projects. Things which people used to make by hand because it was cheaper, has very much switched itself on the head. I think the biggest reason for this is how 'throwaway' fashion and clothing has become. You can buy clothing for next to nothing these days, and as trends are moving on so quickly it seems to be catching on as people can move from one fashion to the next at little cost. I wonder however, what the real economical and ethical cost of this is. 

Lets start with the cons of handmade, and try to end on a positive note shall we

Cons:

  • Cost - often higher than the highstreet for materials (but not always)
  • Time 
  • Mistakes - lets face it, sometimes things don't quiet work out as planned
  • Skill - not all of us are good at everything, and you might need to learn a new skill

Pros: 

  • Style - usually only limited by your imagination/ability
  • Self satisfaction
  • Quality - usually much higher when handmade 
  • Ethos - often using locally sourced materials or patterns from independent retails, and not shipped half way across the globe
  • OOAK - finished result is one of a kind and completely unique to you
  • Gifts - are far more personal if hand made
So I think that whilst there are some obvious and quiet significant cons, the pros are far more positive and far out way the cons. I personally don't think I will ever go off the idea of making something for myself where I can, just because I love the sense of achievement I get from it. If you are not someone who is creative yourself there is always those talented crafters out there who sell their wonderful high quality products online for your delight. 


13 January 2014

Ava Update: Tests, and pattern redrafting

This project is making me feel a little bit like goldilocks. I have made up two muslins for this top so far and neither have been quiet right. But on a positive note, I have picked out my fabric which is a lovely spotty black net for the top portion and some black and white striped cotton poplin for the bottom.


I made the first muslin following the pattern and it turned out, as others found with similar issues to mine, to sit a little but high in the waist and just made me look all boob, without accentuating my natural waist line.

So I did a bit of searching and found a version made by bubala where she describes extending the body by 10 cm to get over the problems I mention above. Her version is stunning wouldn't you agree? I also found that the back was a little bit loose at the top so following some advice from the version made my Shona I extended the length of the darts on the back bodice piece and this seemed to work very well. The problem with this version is that the body length was now a little bit too long.


So I have resided that I am just going to extend by half, 5cm and that should (fingers crossed) be juuuust right. (Can you tell I really like Shona's version as my fabric choice is very similar to hers!)

So I have just redrafted the bodice pieces ready for the final version. I am not sure how other people go about this, but I decided to hack the pattern piece in half on the 'line' for shortening/lengthening, and then taped it down on to my cutting board to make sure that I was getting the same extension across the piece. I then lay my tracing paper down on top (does anyone else just use greaseproof? I am so cheap I know!) secured it with some tape and traced round the pattern again. The good thing about this pattern is the edges are straight so you can easily use a ruler to line up the pieces between the gaps.


Something I found with this pattern was that I got really worried the back was going to be huge when I was testing it to fit. However once you have sewn the upper bodice pieces on the fit changes considerably and you loose all that horrible bagginess. I have also discovered that one thing I really need to learn is how to make an FBA (fuller bust adjustment). I think this is something I am going to come across a lot, so I really should learn how to do it properly.

By Hand London are doing a sewalong for their Georgia dress and as part of this will be looking at doing a FBA for it. I might give this a go to see how I get on. I wondered why I had not seen this dress before, but I think the likelyhood is that I probably dismissed it due to the cups on the bodice. 1 thing at a time though, lets get AVA done first!


11 January 2014

And so knit begins...

...I'm so sorry for that!


Last week I put up some of my small, but hopefully achievable, resolutions for 2014 and one of those is to knit a jumper, and one that I will hopefully wear. Well there is no time like the present, and knowing how long it takes me to finish a knitting project I have jumped straight in.

One of my Christmas gifts was a copy of Kim Hargreaves Enchanted and the sweater I plan to knit from this is Longing. I have a slightly scary obsession with Kim Hargreaves knitting books and I own about 5 or 6 of them (see I have lost count). I have also NEVER completed a knitting project from any of them. That's quiet bad really isn't it, but I am just drawn to these books. The pictures are so enticing and the quality of the books is amazing. On top of that the patterns are all items which you could actually wear on a day to day basis. They are classic but also stylish at the same time. I also have a bit of an obsession in that I would always rather knit in Rowan than anything else. Maybe that makes me a yarn snob i'm not sure? I will tell you something though, it does make any project a very expensive one. The Kim Hargreaves patterns all use Rowan, though you can of course substitute for other yarns as long as you check your gauge.


So I purchased some wool for the project, 5 balls of Kid Classic in Rose, and 3 balls of Kidsilk Haze in Blushes. It turns out blushes was a lot darker than I expected, and as this pattern calls for you to knit two strands together I was not sure, but after knitting up a swatch I actually like the way this makes the kid classic a bit more of a deep dusky pink than a candy type pink.


So I have made a start and cast on the back, mostly knitting this in the kitchen at work during my lunch break. I really really hope that some point this year I can turn this into my first successful completed sweater from a Kim Hargreaves book. Fingers crossed, and I will keep you updated on its progress.

Finally on a couple of side notes: my Ravelry ID is Monstermagic if you would like to add me, and isn't the heart fabric gorgeous! It's a scarf that I was gifted for Christmas from my mother in law. I love the colours, so pretty. 
 

6 January 2014

Sewing for Your (My) Style

Tilly wrote a very informative post a while back which I came across recently called 'Sewing for your style'. This is something which I really want to keep at the forefront of my mind whilst trying to develop my sewing skills. It's all well and good being able to make stuff, but if I am never going to wear it what really is the point. For example, I know I am not a fan of floral prints. They look incredible on some people, but they are just not something I would pick to wear. But show me some leopard print and its straight in my wardrobe.



With that in mind I bought my first sewing pattern for the year from M is for Make which is Ava by Victory Patterns. I really like the idea of sewing dresses, because most of the clothing I buy tends to be jersey basics, they are so cheap there is not much point in making them a lot of the time. However I can never buy dresses that suit or fit my shape. The things that really draw me to this pattern, and that I feel fit my style, are the sheer neck, the sweetheart neckline and the fact it comes in at the waist.


This pattern is great as it comes in 3 different lengths, peplum, above the knee, and tea dress. I am going to have a go at the peplum version first just because it will require less fabric whilst I am practicing. I haven't yet decided on the final fabric choice as I am just making up a toile at the moment but I want to make sure it is something which I will wear.


With this philosophy in mind though I have been out and bought some fabrics which just caught my eye, and that I thought fitted my style. First is this stretch fabric in black with pink lips on it. I purchased it from ebay and expected it to be quiet a thin jersey type stretch with just lip print on, but when it turned up it actually has a bit of weight to it and the lips are a sort of raised brushed velvet or something of similar description. It would make a really good dress I think. Isn't it funny how you really need to feel a fabric to know what you are going to get.


Finally I picked up another few of meters of the brown leopard cotton from My Fabric Place in Beeston. I went in and just couldn't help myself from making sure I had some more of this stuff in my stash! I am not sure of its destiny either, I was thinking either a version of the prom dress, but who knows, now maybe the Ava peplum, or perhaps my next project. Only time will tell.


Do you have any patterns which you think particularly fit your style, or any staple fabric choices which you make over and over? Leopard is what I magpie over every time! are you the same but maybe with stripes, or floral prints?






4 January 2014

Looking to the Year Ahead:

Last year was full of its ups and downs. The biggest up was obviously being wed to my wonderful new husband. However we did suffer a number of losses in both our families, and what with that, the wedding planning, and the stresses of work it wasn't the easiest of years.


So with that in mind it's time to start the new year off with a clean slate, to look forward and to try to shape 2014 into something much better. I do love this time of year because it give's you the time to reflect and think about where you are headed. I know there is a lot of stigma about resolutions at this time of year, lots of grand gestures and empty promises, but I am determined not to go down this route. How to go about that? Well I think that setting some realistic achievable goals is probably the best way forward. So here are my resolutions for the year ahead:
  1. To set up a regular blogging schedule, and to review this monthy to make sure that the content is frequent enough, but also good quality. I would rather be writing twice a week with good content than just quick posts with no depth.
  2. Improve my dressmaking skills.
  3. To make 5 items which I can actually wear.
  4. To knit a jumper
  5. To start thinking about Christmas early
  6. And finally, to try and be a good wife. Now this isn't a very specific goal,but its the little things I want to concentrate on. Things like trying to clear up after myself, spend more 1 on 1 time with Mr Fox, and to remember that he has a stressful job and to try and be a bit more understanding when he comes home and is not in the best of moods.
They don't seem too scary right? The problem is I have just blogged them for the world to see so you will all know whether I managed to achieve these, or whether I threw them out the window in a rage come 31st January. However I think getting them out in the public eye is a good thing as it means that I can't just decide to not bother, just because I didn't actually tell anyone what they were. Do you have any resolutions which you would like to share with the group, get it out your system, you know it will feel good to tell someone. 

On that note I want to wish you all a Happy New Year... here is to hoping 2014 brings you just enough of the things which you really wanted.