Category Archives: Refashion

An Unfortunate Costume

Minor ‘A Series of Unfortunate Events’ spoilers ahead!

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Because my friends are the best, I was recently invited to a fancy dress party. The theme was ‘Villains/ antagonists from literature’, and we had a bit of a book swap at the bar too.

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If you know me at all you know that I am a big Lemony Snicket fan, particularly of his A Series of Unfortunate Events books. I decided to go as Esmé Gigi Genevive Squalor, the city’s sixth most important financial adviser and terrible person.

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There have yet to be any filmed depictions of Esmé squalor, except for this easter egg at the end of the first Netflix Series. Feathers are iiinnnn, apparently. I wanted to combine this with one of my favourite and most rude outfits, the one she wears in The Carnivorous Carnival to persuade a group of ‘freaks’ to commit an awful crime. Here’s an illustration from the book-

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Now, according to the written description the dress was white, however I was already set on the monochrome idea, plus I felt like everyone would think I was a bride villain if I went down that route. Ooh, are there any good bride villains from literature, that sounds fun?

I went to Thrift Manchester and got me a large velvet dress. As it was a stretch dress I could quite easily adjust it to my fit, and then onto the decorations.

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The main decoration was the sashes, which I made from some lining fabric folded in half and sewn into a tube. I then tried to sew them on with my machine, realised I physically couldn’t do that without taking apart the whole dress, decided I did not want to do that, and hand sewed them on instead.

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Next was the lettering. I’m no calligrapher, but I think I did a reasonably good job of replicating the writing. It’s painted with fabric paint.

Lastly, I glued some s**t on it. I wanted the costume to look a bit more snazzy and what says snazzy more than red sequins and feathers? Don’t answer that.

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I used UHU textile glue and I would recommend to a friend, it stuck down very 3-D feathers with no problem and they lasted the whole night!

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Lastly, Michael found a cloche hat and cigarette holder at a fancy dress shop, so I glued a large feather to the hat to tie it into the dress, and the costume was complete! I really enjoyed making and especially wearing Esmé’s garb. Mainly, it’s got me extremely excited for the next season, and especially meeting the most fashionable villain of them all.

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Restyling Exchange 2017

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IMG20170603191525I know what you’re thinking. This isn’t Lottie, how did her hair grow that quickly? To that, I would say ‘What are you talking about? Of course this isn’t me, this is clearly another woman.’ Welcome to my Restyling Exchange entry! This was my first time participating in a challenge of this type; sending things to (sort of) strangers, and making clothing you weren’t allowed to wear, no matter how much you liked it! Organised by Pilar Bear and Amy Nicole, we each sent out an item, and we all received one to restyle and then send back. Fun!

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I was sent this top from Rachel. Isn’t that a lovely print? She liked the fit but not the way the pleated lining fell. I had a think about options and reasonably quickly fell on this-

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Can you see a statement sleeve in the making already? I garnered some ideas from instagram, and decided to add sheer sleeves with the pleats as the cuff. Once I started unpicking I also decided it would balance it out to add a sheer yoke.

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I made a pattern piece for the sleeves from a shirt I had with a similar silkiness, and it seemed to work out ok! Sleeves are definitely a lot less daunting than I used to think they are, and usually a little more forgiving than they pretend to be. Stuck up sleeves, thinking they’re better than me. I MADE you.

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The original top had a pleat at the neckline, but the lining didn’t, which meant that the outer fabric front piece was slightly larger than the lining. I basically just drew a line to create the yoke, so I needed to find a way of making the outer fabric match up. I didn’t want to take anything off the sides because I didn’t want to make it too tight by accident, so I did a veeery subtle gather on it.

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There are a couple of bits I wish I was slightly more skilled at- my seams were a little messy, especially in the sleeves, and I don’t know if I finished the raw edges well enough. However, I’m still really happy with the end result. I came out just as I envisaged it, and this is definitely the most advanced thing I have made for someone else! Wowsers, making stuff for other people is stressful, I was so nervous when unpicking mistakes. I sewed a sleeve in the wrong way around and it was tense getting the dark stitches out of that dark fabric…

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Rachel very kindly let me use these photos for this post, look how great it looks on her!

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Check out the #RestylingExchange2017 on Instagram for more lovely refashioning projects!

Striped Turtle Neck Refashion

I’m pretty pleased with this one! I know I say that about all of my makes… I made this in something of a fever at about midnight one weekend. I wasn’t ready for bed y’all! Some go clubbing, I go sewing. Both equally valid btw, no judgement here.

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Anyway, my partner had a big clear out and I grabbed this top because I love me some monochrome stripes. My thought from the beginning was to replicate a top I already owned, with some improvements. I have this turtleneck crop top, but it irritates me that I always have to wear a tank top underneath. I’m not going to wear it as a crop top, it’s long sleeved. My tummy gets just as cold as my arms people!

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This is a pretty rough and ready ‘tutorial’ coming up here- remember how I said I made this at midnight?

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Lay your top over the top to be refashioned. Draw around, adding seam allowance, with a fabric pen.

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Unpick the sleeves at the shoulder sleeves and down to the cuff.

I then cut around the top pattern I had drawn onto the top, having tried the top on to see if the lines seem about right. Remember that the shapes for the fronts and backs of the armholes and neck hole will be different.

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Sew the shoulder seams together, right sides together. All of my seams were sewn with a zigzag stitch. I like how I cut through the label as if it were the fabric, it means I have a cool half label reminding which bit is the back. I also like the idea that someone will find this top in years to come and be super confused about this top Next made.

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Open up the top right side up, and pin the sleeves to the armholes. By doing it now you can shape the sleeve to fit around the armhole without having to work out how to cut them. It’s a much more forgiving order than constructing once the sides are attached. Just be careful to not stretch the fabrics as you do this.

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Fold the sides and sleeves to right sides together, and sew in one long line. Here you’ll catch any extra fabric on the sleeves in the seam. Don’t forget to trim this down after.

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Now, for the collar. I basically just sewed two of the side pieces I had left from taking in the top, sewed them together to make a long strip, and used that. Be a better person than me, and make sure the rectangle you’ve made is even. I ended up with a wonky collar. It’s fine, I evened it up enough so you largely can’t notice, but I believe you can do better. I measured around my neck how big the collar should be to look deliberate, but can also fit over my head. I then basically followed this tutorial for the neck which explains it better than I probably could-

Since I used a top for this, I didn’t have to hem the sleeves or bottom as that was already done for me. Hooray! I am really keen on this look. It doesn’t come across in these photos enough, maybe because I’d had a busy day at work and a lot of food before taking them, but it’s a very chic top. I definitely want to make more, especially since it was so fast!

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Me Made May 2017- My Pledge

It’s that time of year again! May is on its way which for the sewing community can mean only one thing-

‘I, Lottie of losori.wordpress.com (@lottieoflosori on instagram), sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’17. I endeavour to wear at least one handmade or refashioned item each day for the duration of May 2017’

Every year Zoe of So Zo What Do You Know runs a month long challenge to encourage makers to make the most of their handmade wardrobe. You can make your own pledge according to what would be the right level of challenge for you. Last year I was in a very corporate job, which is not something I sew much for, and so I went for wearing handmade over the weekends. You can find last year’s Me Made May on my Instagram or on the mmmay16 tag on the blog. However, new year, new city, new job, new pledge! Life in your twenties, amirite?

I am anticipating that I may be featuring a number of repeats this month, which is ok. About 30% of clothing in our wardrobes went unworn last year, and so it would be good to ensure I get good use from the items I have made. Similarly, it will help me identify where the gaps in my handmade wardrobe lie, in order to make clever choices in the future.

I will be posting every day on Instagram, but I am still to decide about the blog. I will definitely write a blog post at the end of the month about my thoughts, but would it be interesting to put the photos on here at the end of the week? If anyone has any strong opinions let me know, otherwise I’ll just make an executive decision.

If I am really struggling or my laundry grew too fast, I will count mended garments for a day, but I wouldn’t count them as part of my handmade wardrobe, as that’s just a way for me to prolong the life of my purchases.

You can follow my month over on my Instagram which you can find here, and I look forward to seeing everyone’s handmade creations!

Altering a too small dress

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Back when I was still at uni, I bought this polka dot dress from a charity shop. I loved the shape and the fabric, but it was too big in the bodice. No biggie, I thought, and took it home. One of the simplest ways to fit a dress which is too big is to sew in the side seams. However, this dress had a side zip, what I ended up doing was take it in at the centre, creating a centre back seam. It was an ok job, but I made the chest go the opposite direction and became too small. Here’s a photo of me wearing it last Me Made May.

As you can see; lovely dress, tight bust. I just kind of lived with it for a while, but more recently it became something of an irritation in the mornings. I don’t like having clothes which don’t fit, especially now I can fix that with sewing. Who’s with me on that one?!

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I finally sat down and assessed the problem. I had thought to leave the excess fabric on the wrong side of the seam, should I want to make any alterations. However, I had neglected to finish the seam allowances, and so that whole operation was rendered useless by the fact that the fabric had been shredded to pieces. My word past me, this was stupid. Why did you not finish the seams? Did you think it wouldn’t be affected by the cruel fate of the washing machine?

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Grumbling at my past over, I realised I would have to get creative to solve this fitting error. Luckily, that’s my jam. I dug a piece of black stretch lace out of my stash, and unpicked the centre seam of the dress. Next, I put the dress on and measured the shape I needed this extra piece to be. Well- I got Michael to do that, as I am no contortionist! A technique to gain fabric in a garment is to add a rectangular strip in the seam. However, this dress has a collar, which would have made doing that without ruining the collar very tricky. Instead, my idea was to create a lace keyhole insert.

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Having measured the positioning of the widest point, I pinned the lace into this opening, folding down the raw edges of the dress. I topstitched close to the edge of the dress around the keyhole, and finished the edges of the lace. You taking notes, past me? Oh, I guess you are….

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These photos were taken during a recent visit to the Museum of Science and Industry. I saw Gabby from Gabberdashery took over their Instagram recently, and thought I was due a trip to their textile section. I love how much better this dress fits me now, and the lace insert is pretty fun. It’s not something I would have gone for in the first place, but I like it. It’s nice that whilst solving the problem, I in fact created a welcome addition to the creation.Polka Dot refashioned dress

A Zip After My Own Heart

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It’s March! I’m not always wearing gloves because I don’t need them!

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Spring is certainly on this way, and I am feeling the spring clean, new start kind of vibes right now. As you might guess from the boxes in some of these shots, we moved a couple of weeks ago. The new apartment is lovely, albeit with a bit of a life of its own, plus we have a spare room now which means I have a dedicated sewing space! I’m sure I don’t have to tell you guys how happy this makes me. I’ve got a gorgeous project on the go and I’m loving that I don’t have to allow tidying time into my sewing time. Just shut that mess away for the day, and pick it up tomorrow. Amazing.

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Ooh, attractive. I love a girl with a jumper for a face. I also have a brand new job which I wish I could tell you about because it’s awesome, but I really can’t right now. Come back in a couple of months and I might be able to spill the beans… in any case, I’m feeling in a good place right now.

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On the subject of spring cleaning, I got rid of a lot of stuff before our move. We were moving from the south to the north of the country (shout out to those who relocate frequently, you guys must be machines), and so I didn’t want to take anything all that way I didn’t care about. This required a rather brutal look at my sewing stash. Here’s roughly what I was dealing with-

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Now I’m sure this isn’t as much as other people function with very happily, but for me it made no sense to keep all of this mess. I was hoarding old shirts and things, thinking ‘I could do something with this’- there to die in the corners of the cupboard. Here’s the steps I always take when decluttering-

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  1. Work out exactly what you’re dealing with. Take everything out and put it where you can see it all. This often seems overwhelming but it’s kind of necessary to get a bit shocked by how much stuff there is.
  2. Pick up your favourite things. For me, the fabrics I love, the refashions I can’t wait to stick my teeth into. These will definitely stay.
  3. Pick out the essentials. The tools and materials you can’t be without.
  4. Right, now onto some decisions. I go through every item, thinking about how it makes me feel. Am I excited to use it, or does it feel like a responsibility? There is no joy in keeping stuff which makes you sad. Obvious, but sometimes it helps to hear it again.
  5. Donate what’s left, or in my case donate/ send to textile recycling. Let your unwanted items run free, live a new life!

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Thanks for reading this slightly meandering post, where I’ve interspersed it with photos of what I wore today. The top is a refashion from last year, and the skirt is a new to me vintage red cord. Red cord skirts everywhere, please!

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I suspect this might be a handmade skirt, judging by its insides. It has a slightly wonky zip insertion after my own heart. I’m a bit out of practice with outfit shots, I started a bit self conscious. To calm myself down I took a deep breath…

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Tablecloth Skirt Mark Two

I used to have long hair. It was determined to be straight and limp and boring, not matter how much I messed with it. I would curl it, it would deflate within the hour. I also had very little interest in doing anything cool with it. A bun was too complicated for me to work out. And so, during a period of being especially annoyed with it, I got it cut off, marking one of the best decisions of my life. No longer will my hair get in the way while eating, take forever to dry, and make me sad by hanging over like a wet blanket over my face. Best of all, it suited me. It turns out I was a short haired person stuck in a long haired person’s body. 

However, I’m sure none of you are surprised to hear I got some backlash from this decision. I remember being told to ensure I wore more flowery clothes, to offset the ‘masculine’ hair. Often I would be told ‘You suit short hair so much, it looks great! When are you going to grow it back?’, which is a weirdly paradoxical statement. I was also ‘warned’ that people would think I’m a lesbian, which is strange, as that isn’t an insult. Anyway, regardless of my sexual positioning, these strange stereotypes pursued me, despite the fact that reactions to my hair specifically were overwhelmingly positive. People have such messed up priorities sometimes.

I wanted to mention this little story from my life for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I got my haircut yesterday (after these pictures), and it got me thinking about how, to some people, my hair is something of a confusion to their prescribed view of what a woman should look like. Secondly, and rather more trivially, I made a long skirt into a short one, which also reminded me of this process.

This skirt was very originally a tablecloth, found in a charity shop. In my early days of sewing, I made this into a maxi circle skirt. It was a real ramshackle affair but I eventually made something wearable, at least for a few wears.

Like my long hair, I began to find the long skirt more trouble than it was worth. It kept tripping me up on the stairs, dragging in the dirt, and getting stained. I bundled it up into a bag for a bit, before using some of it for this Mimi blouse. The other week, I had a look at what was left of the skirt, and decided it would be perfect for a quick A-line skirt. I traced a shape directly from my Delphine skirt (I couldn’t be bothered to trace the proper pattern out again, as I said, I fancied a quick project), and cut as close to the grain as possible. I was considering going for pockets, but I went for a side zip so I didn’t fancy working those two things out together! The best bit was that I didn’t have to hem, as it already has these scalloped edges.The waistband is a bit of a mess and could do with being about an inch and a half smaller, but for a simple project I’m pleased with it. So pleased I took these photos outside when it was rather nippy.

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Happy Birthday Blog!

This post has taken me a long old time to write. Do you ever feel like you’ve been experiencing too much internet? I just felt smothered by it. So, I deleted all my social media apps from my phone, stopped refreshing the Guardian homepage every three minutes, and tried to spend more time doing other things. I’ve started learning the Ukulele again, having stopped after a very short burst about four years ago. My apartment is also now many bags of junk lighter, having gone through a donation spree. It’s felt good; necessary. Next, I’m going to clear out my fabric cupboard (yes, I know!), as it’s been making me feel more sad than excited. Sometimes a good cleanse can be useful for the creative soul.

Anyway, onto the purpose of this update, which is that my blog had its anniversary last week! Happy Birthday blog! Losori started a year ago now, and my goodness what a year. I am so glad I started this blog all that long year ago. Thank you to everyone who has supported me by reading, commenting or saying nice things in real life. There was a time that I didn’t feel confident telling people I liked to sew, or god forbid knit. I’m still not shouting it from the rooftops in the real world, but I’m feeling way more happy about my passions, and I do talk about them, both chatting to people and right here on this blog. One thing I didn’t anticipate is pride. I’ve been starting to feel good about making things and sharing them. Every new make is a little story of my process, and I actually get really excited about sharing that with the world.

Just to get vaguely personal, it’s been a rough year. I think it has for a lot of people. And this blog has actually been a bit of a rock for me, even if it might not look that way from the outside. I’ve been able to dip in over the year, adding to my writing, taking better photos, and each time feeling like I have achieved something, even in a small way.

I thought it would be nice to have a look at the hits and misses from my very first blog year, so I hope you enjoy.

Hits-

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First, the highlights. This year was pretty much the first one where I had both the time (sort of…) and the resources to sew, so I definitely saw my skills improve over the course of these 12 months. My favourite make this year, to no one’s surprise, has to be my space dress. Nothing has made me feel so proud and happy to wear. Do you ever put something on and it actually feels like it accurately represents you and who you are? Somehow, this dress does that. I’ve ordered a long invisible zip for this dress so soon it won’t take two people pulling to get this dress off…

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My Megan dress is again, not perfect, but I actually wear this to work and no one gasps ‘Gasooks, this woman is wearing an outfit made on her kitchen table. Cast her to the flames!’ They haven’t said that because I don’t work in a anachronistic medieval witch hunting club, but also because it legit looks like a well made item of clothing.

 

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I have knitted intermittently over the year, leading to my biggest project which was my owls jumper. I love this jumper, it’s so soft and chunky and lovely. The only thing with it is that it’s a little snug ‘round the neckline getting it on and off. Did I cast it off too tight? I’m not sure, but probably.

 

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And lastly, just a couple of other makes I’m especially pleased with. My America dress is just really cute and fun. I used to love this dress in its original form, and it’s great to still be able to wear it in a new way! Lastly, this nedroid costume was very easy but very effective. I liked being a bear and a potato.

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Misses and eh’s-

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I made this scalloped skirt as part of a facebook group’s challenge and whilst I enjoyed the process, I really can’t get along with the finished product. It doesn’t have a strong waistband so it sags over the course of a wear, plus the scallops always need ironing which just irritates me. These, combined with the fact the design causes so much upskirt with even the slightest breeze, makes it my top miss of the year. But, as a plus, it was my first time with buttonholes which was fun.

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This sleeveless Mimi blouse is a funny one, because I kind of like it, but am also not sure at the same time. The fabric choice isn’t really right for the pattern, and if you read back over my post about it, I was kind of cobbled together from a load of mistakes. But then it looks ok in these photos. I’m going to give it until next summer and see how it holds up with the rest of my wardrobe.

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One day I randomly got some pictures taken of me in a vintage inspired outfit, and thought it might be good to put on here. I then went on to do a couple of My Style posts, but to be honest I never felt altogether comfortable with this category. I think it shows in the photos. Compare my body language to in photos of my space dress, for example, and there’s a whole world of difference. I’m not going to get rid of them, as it seems dishonest, but they really aren’t my best work. 

And that’s been the year. Generally a successful one for makes! I’m very much looking forward to the next. Once again, thank you to you all, and I look forward to the next year of creativity!

Sew stylish- Dubrovnik

As promised, here are some snaps from my holiday in Dubrovnik. This isn’t a travel blog so I won’t bore you all with too many details about the place itself. Basically, if you like ice cream, blue seas and beautiful roofs, go to Dubrovnik like right away. It’s awesome.

This holiday was a great last swan song for a lot of my summer wardrobe for this year, & I think I saw them off well.

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Ha, look at my funny face. Here I am on the main street wearing my sorbetto top & a refashioned skirt. This skirt used to be a dress I got years ago from Primark. The pattern remained adorable, but the body grew. However, I just did the same thing as with this skirt, & a new outfit was made.

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Next, we’ve got this refashioned America dress. I love this outfit, it’s so fun to wear. Also, one day I will get a good full length picture of me wearing this dress, but this holiday was apparently not that time.

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You may well recognise this next outfit, as it’s the one from my last blog post here. We’ve got my sleeveless Mimi blouse paired with this refashioned liberty print skirt. It’s a real pastel fest here.

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Finally, I wore my space dress on the last day. I don’t have any full length pictures from this trip so go click that link if you want to marvel at that awesome print.

 

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We had a wonderful time & you should all go to Dubrovnik. Go to Mea Culpa, get a pizza bigger than your leg, & say hi from me.

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Sleeveless Mimi Blouse

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There was a bit of a journey to get to a finished and photographed garment here. I shall detail this for you now. As an aside, I’ve been feeling like a mess up makes for a more interesting post, but it meant I experienced strife. Do I secretly want to suffer so that my blog is more interesting? What is my life, what is real? Anyway…

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When I heard that Karen of Did You Make That was hosting a gingham along where people made gingham items (obviously), I thought this would be a great opportunity to use up the rest of my never ending Laura Ashley duvet cover. Readers may remember my previous projects include a yoked sorbetto top and a scalloped skirt. People who know me in the real world may also know my first project with this duvet, which was a rather shoddily made pair of short dungarees. I liked them, but not enough to show them on here right now! I decided to make a Mimi blouse from Love at First Stitch out of the remaining fabric, with a contrasting pink collar using some hot pink fabric from my stash.

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It was at this stage that things started to go wrong. Once I had cut out the pieces, I realised that this pattern is probably not gingham. I think it’s a check, just with very few colours. Ah well, it’s for myself anyway, it doesn’t matter whether it’s for a competition or not. I barely manage to squeeze out the shape of the collar from the pink fabric, then realise I don’t have enough interfacing. So, I order more and wait a couple of days before continuing. Then, I trim the wrong edges of the bottom side of the collar, so I have to cut out another piece and start again on it. Then, I go to iron the interfacing onto the collar, and this happens.

 

I was so mad at myself for ironing directly onto the fabric, scorching and slightly melting it onto the iron. I didn’t have enough of the hot pink fabric to cut out the collar again, and I didn’t think it would work having the collar patterned too. Plus, I had already purchased the shank buttons in a matching shade of pink for this project and it made me sad to think they would go to waste. So, I rummaged through my stash, putting fabrics up against the blouse trying to work out an alternative. I eventually settled on some light pink fabric which used to be a tablecloth. I had made it into a maxi skirt to reasonable success, as seen here in a photograph from the past-

 

Ha, wearing the same shoes! However, it wasn’t made to stand many wears, and so I used it for this project. This proved a little harder than anticipated, as the grain line was not even close to being parallel to the hem line in most places. I never could work out quite what shape that tablecloth was… I was much more careful ironing on the interfacing this time, using a cloth over the top to protect my wretched, demanding collar.

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Right, collar’s on, pattern pretty much matched at the front, onto the sleeves now and… I can’t get them over my upper arms. I had traced a smaller size than the one my measurements suggested, because I wasn’t sure if this blouse would look a little clowny if too loose. However, I completely forgot that in making this decision, I was now using pattern pieces for my arms which don’t fit me. Like, at all. I was all about ready to give up. Then, I remembered that I was going on holiday to Dubrovnik in less than a week, and thought wouldn’t it be nice if I could wear this top out and about there? I yelled a few swearwords to get it out of my system, then stormed on. I cut the armholes to accomodate my weird, low hanging armpits, turned the raw edge to the inside and hemmed it. I guess we’re making a sleeveless blouse now. I am actually pretty pleased with the buttonholes, I took my sweet time over them and I think it shows.

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I wipe my sweating brow, coming up for air amongst piles of discarded fabric and thread. Through the sweat, the track of a single tear can be seen sliding down my face. It is done, and I burst out of the room to the window, tearing it open and laughing as I feel the wind rush through me. I am free.

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This blouse was a slog, I’ll be honest. Entirely by my own doing, I might add. The instructions were very clear and the pattern was actually pretty simple. I’m hoping to make another soon, to prove I can, mostly.

As I dreamed, I took this blouse to Dubrovnik for an awesome holiday (more about that in a future post), and was excited to take some photos of me wearing it with my refashioned skirt. We went out to enjoy the streets and ice cream, and within five minutes of leaving the apartment a pigeon pooed on me, right down the skirt (a refashioned skirt, no less), and quickly seeping onto my legs. Right, well I guess it was pretty outrageous for me to be in the same city as this pigeon, whilst wearing a skirt. I suppose I was asking for the poo… I washed the skirt (and myself), and wore it a couple of days later, where this blouse finally reaches the end of its creation story.  

These Instagram photos were posted as part of #sewphotohop, a instagram challenge hosted over September by House of Pinheiro. Go have a look through if you fancy reading a bit more about my miscellaneous sewing thoughts.