Saturday, 31 May 2014

A Walk on the Dyed Side

Hello again!

I bought this bog standard white maxi dress ages ago for a friend's wedding. It was a  ceremony that required me to wear a long dress (I didn't own any!!! so panicked and bought this) but have never worn it since.

Yup, that's it

But I've been seeing a lot of tie dyed maxi dresses recently that have been catching my eye and thought it can't be that hard!

So I googled - and this is the particularly great tutorial that I found (I even created my own washing soda (once I worked out what it was!)) .....

I prepared the fabric in a solution of pre-dye wash for two hours and then got to the tie bit of the tie dye. I knew I wanted a circle in the bottom corner (so used a stone) and then the vertical concertina fold and scrunches for the rest of the dress. Thus, I tied so.....

I then got a box of Dylon dye and used two teaspoons (and the corresponding amount of salt) with hot water into a travel toiletries bottle and started to squirt the dye into the dress. This was loads of fun!! The tutorial had said that one common mistake was not adding enough dye, so I just kept covering the odd ball that the dress had become until I couldn't see any more white. I figured I'd prefer it more black than white anyway and that the tied bits would stay white (i.e. work!!!!)

I put it in a plastic bag, left it on some card outside for twenty four hours and came back to it the next day. I washed out the dye and hung my dress out to dry.

Very happy with the end result!!!

What I really, really like about this project (as with all refashes) is that even though there are loads of tie dyed garments out there, this one is completely unique. This pattern never has and never will exist in exactly the same form again.

Thanks for reading!!


Sunday, 11 May 2014

From So So to Art Nouveau....

Sorry about the title, I couldn't help myself......

Things have been hectic, to say the least this last month, but before things went manic (in a good way!!!) I got myself over to Amsterdam to celebrate my birthday...

Happy birthday to me!

It's such a great city! I only saw two chain stores the whole time I was there. The place was full of small little independent shops, galleries and (this was the clincher), people opening up their basements and living rooms and just selling stuff! I was in op shopping heaven! I managed to score a very great fedora hat (my head is very small and I have been searching forever to find one that fits) for 10 Euro from a very colourful lady named Karen doing a dismal Aussie accent, and this......

An amazing print on what is a hand made maxi skirt. I fell in love instantly.

A closer look.....

All for a fiver from an old guy selling everything from out of his living room. Brilliant!

This was perfect for a sixties-esque style dress that I had had in mind for some time. 

And, on the plus side, it was also going to be an easy refashion.

I started by unpicking the skirt and laying them out on the floor, thus eliminating any seams. It was a 70s rayon material with a slight stretchiness, which worked for me (I didn't need to put a zip in!).

I lay a slip over the top that was the right structure for the garment I wanted and fitted me perfectly. I cut out the two pieces, keeping in mind that I was going to dart the bust and needed an inch of seam around the whole garment - I kept the original hem around the bottom.

I then hemmed the neck and sleeves and stitched two darts on either side of the garment at the bust.

I popped it onto my dress form to check both whether it needed a zip (it didn't - hurrah!!) and that it fit well. As both were positive, I stitched the hems together, did a quick zigzag 'overlock' and it was done! I wore it to my leaving drinks on the last day of my old job (but sadly forgot to take any pictures!).

These are picci's of the finished dress before I headed out....

Thanks for reading!


Saturday, 5 October 2013

Maxi Skirt to Dress

I found this maxi skirt at Queens Crescent's market (London's oldest marked apparently) and fell in love with the retro patterns. It's actually a H & M skirt, so it's not that old. I would have just brought it in to fit as a maxi-skirt, but I needed some work clothes - so a dress it will become, which makes me a wee bit sad as I'm rediscovering the long skirt. I haven't worn them since I was a teenager!

Too much maxi...

I'm holding this back, but it's 3 sizes too big.

 I have a great dress that is wide and square-ish at the shoulders and elasticated in the middle. This is a gorgeous dress on, so I was hoping to re-create it. I've never refashioned an elasticated middle before, so this was entering new territory for me....

I put the dress over the top of the skirt and pulled the original dress out at the waist to get the actual size of the material. Then I cut the elastic to the size of the dress as is.

This makes the body sack like..

So I went and stitched this up sans the area where I was going to cut sleeves. Once the sides were stitched, I placed the dress over the skirt again and went to marking out the sleeves. I cut the holes and stitched them under ( I'll place some ribbon on the inside over the hems later - I was running late!) and worked to stitching down the top of the dress (the waist band) to make shoulders and a hole for the head. 

So, all stitched up and sewn (there was already a small zip in the back- I prefer to work with what I've got!) I attached the elastic - I've not done this before and it was  hard!! Any tips on the best way to do it would be appreciated :)

All in all, it was actually a really basic re-fashion. The fact that the material is such a stand-out means that it will be striking, and the wider shoulders give it a chance to, well - strike!

So, the end result was great (the pattern's an eye-catcher!) but you may see this one again. I'm not really happy with the elasticated waist or the sleeves, so it pretty much back on the project pile ... 

Thanks for reading!!!

Saturday, 31 August 2013

Wrap Around to Halter Neck...

I used to wear Indian wrap around skirts aplenty when I was a teenager. Growing up in a warm climate, they were perfect with sandals and a singlet. I used to love the patterns and always wore them down to the ground. I've given them away over the years of moving around and traveling, and living in London doesn't really allow for enough warm weather to really indulge myself with them very often but I have been on the look-out to pick up some more second hand.

Joy oh joy, I did end up finding one with the most beautiful colours of vibrant and dark blues, elephants parading around the bottom of the skirt and gorgeous leafy designs all over - unfortunately it only went down as far as my calf. However, I have been searching *forever* and I loved the colour and patterns, so it needed to change in order for me to keep it......

The pattern below isn't too similar to this, but close-ish and in blues and creams (sorry readers, my bad- I have been working on this project on and off for ages and don't have any before photos or photos of skirts even similar.... read on however!)

So, as you will see on the top back of the dress I was pinning bits and pieces together in true hotch-potch fashion.... this was before I had my trusted tailor's dummy!

I started by cutting the elephant trail out and using it as a very wide waist band (it's below the chest and above the hips). 

The elephants were at the very bottom of the skirt, so I used the main bulk of the skirt after they were cut off to fashion the bottom skirt of the dress under the waist band. Having the wide waist band meant I had extra bits of material left to re-fashion a top. As there was not much room for movement or mistake (every last scrap of material was pasted together to cover gaps, etc...!) - this could easily have gone either way and therefore I put a zipper in the back so as to utilise all of the material...

This is the end product....

Patched together!

Looove the colours!

Sorry! I won't cut my head off next time!

This dress will get loads of wear, as a skirt it would have sat in my drawer. As it gets cooler I plan to put some stockings and stocking sleeved shirts on underneath and wear with boots to brighten up the grey days a-coming - it's a lovely jaunt from my usual black!

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, 18 July 2013

I thought I'd start off simple…..

I bought a t shirt from a charity store recently that wasn't really a colour I'd normally wear and when I'd tried it on, fit fantastically as an oversized, off the shoulder number but came up a bit too short for my liking. I bought it anyway - heck £3.50 - not bad for a London zone 2 charity store, so I grabbed it. I figured I'd wear it with the grey jeans I'd nabbed for £2 (charity store bought) that fit like they'd been waiting for me my whole life. But it was just too damn short. I liked the colour (it is a pale pinkish colour (my technical terminology is astounding!)) and there were birds migrating all across it. 

I'd picked up a canvas tote bag with Mick Jagger on the front, possibly it was cheap because Mick was NOT looking his best - it was possibly the most unflattering picture of the man I'd ever seen. Sorry readers, I couldn't post it - once seen, never forgotten…

This is the story of what happened when the two garments collided….

First I chopped off the sleeves and turned the garment inside out to pin and stitch the sleeve openings shut.

Stitched shut!!

Next, onto the bag.

I put the bag inside the t-shirt (the neck is still open) just to see if I was lucky enough for a snug fit on either side. I wasn't.

So I took the t-shirt off the bag, turned it inside out put it over the bag. I made sure that the bag was lying completely flat and also flattened each side of the shirt and started pinning it to fit snugly onto the bag. I didn't pin the shirt to the bag, as the bag is going to be the inner lining and I didn't want the two attached, I wanted movement between the two and no unnecessary unpicking if this didn't work!

After stitching the sides down, I removed the excess, and did a zig-zag stitch to reinforce where I'd cut - I'd be carry loads in this bag, and even though most of the weight would be in the actual tote inside, the outer would be re-enforcing the inner.

Next, to tackle the neck-line. 

Another reason I left the neck until after the sides were stitched was that the neck line is curved, and I would basically be wanting a pretty much straight bottom.  I found that easier to work out without all of the excess material on the sides.It's very hard to see in this picture, but there is a stitched line straight across where the dip in the neck line is lowest. 

I'd pinned this whilst still encasing the tote so I could get a measure of where, but realistically it really had to be at the lowest point of the neck line - it had to go... luckily (or perhaps ironically!) there was enough extra material at the bottom of the shirt for the top of the bag to play/work with.

And wha-la! The basic casing for the bag!

In goes the bag.... goodbye Mick!
Next to attach the bag. Firstly, I unstitched the handles inside the top of the bag (that were stitched for re-enforcement).

Where I was lucky was in that the t-shirt was the perfect length! The hem of the shirt folded over the top of the bag perfectly! I folded the handle straps back over as I pinned the shirt in place.

Aaaaaaannnndddd stitch...... (I stitched squares over the handles for strength).

So, two garments reused/fashioned and saved, total amount spent £5.50 (the bag was £3). Maybe that colour is coral?

Thanks for reading!