The Viking Dress

Some years ago now, I came across an article in Threads Magazine about Zero-Waste patterns. There was a Viking dress in there, and it kind of stuck with me. As Tolkien was largely inspired by Scandinavian culture/myths and legends, and would likely have been a proponent of sustainability, I thought I’d have a go at using this concept.

The initial design is very different to the final one.

Initial Design

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It looks wildly different on different sizes. This is actually a couple of sizes too big for me. It looks miles better with a belt. 🙂 The sleeves were too narrow for anyone bigger.

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Trying it on the right size mannequin. With potential embellishment. I like it better on me. Moving on…

The Final Dress

Completely different silhouette. And I love it! 😀 Note the dart in the back hem that just curves the silhouette. 🙂

I tried it on one of my taller friends and we established that for a model to wear it, it would have to be longer. So I added a few inches. Also enlarged the neckline.

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It’s a versatile pattern because you can remove the sleeves and wear it as a pinafore or a sleeveless, so it’s a good transitional piece, or you can switch up the sleeve and pleat fabric. I’d like to make it in a lighter colour. I have some grey jersey, but that might be a bit sweatshirtish, in a bad way. :/

Also, pockets are essential. 🙂

Weskit Pinafore

This dress is somewhat less modern than the other pieces, and slightly ’70s. I wanted to show that I can actually cut garments to fit the figure, not just drape over it.

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The first go was a funny fit. Somehow I lost about 4cm on the chest and it only just closed. I also needed to enlarge the armholes.

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Take 2 was much better. I also flared the skirt and embroidered on of the waist panels. Note the mis-matched buttons. I kept that. 🙂

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The embroidery looks somewhat Scandinavian, which is good because Scandinavia was part of the inspiration for #TheShire. It’s not perfectly symmetrical, but Tolkein’s illustrations were very clearly hand-done, which is part of their charm. 🙂

The dress is made from stretch-needlecord and has a bagged lining done entirely by machine! I’m so pleased with myself for figuring out how to do it! 😀

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I can pass this off as not being too big on me, partly because it’s a fitted style, and partly because the fabric is stiff so kind of holds itself up.

 

Circles

For the same reasons that the Hoodie is round, these tops are too. That doesn’t meant they all look the same. Every single circle garment I’ve made looks totally different to the others, even though the draft is pretty much the same shape. Fabric and size make a huge difference. Viz.

Toiles

I made a calico toile first. Not the best choice given the final garments are in jersey, but at least we knew it fitted on a person, and looked pretty cool too, if I do say so myself.

This is a page from my first Shire sketchbook. I drew over the others too, I think.

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Trying it with and without sleeves, with different armholes, with possible style lines.

One thing I like about a lot of the garments in The Shire is that they’re unusual, but simple enough to offer a lot of design variations that are really wearable.

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I forgot the dimensions of the first toile when I was cutting the second one, so I guesstimated and missed about 4″ off the radius, which is fine because now it’s a proper top-length.

When I was doing this I leaned how to band jersey. It’s so quick and easy to make t-shirts! So satisfying to just whip something up!

Final Garments

There are two circle tops. One turned out a bit big, so it can be worn as a remarkably comfy dress too.

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Yes, the hem is dipped. 🙂

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Looks better tucked in. 🙂

Also: lesson learned: test ribbing ratios on EVERY INDIVIDUAL jersey you use. Even if they look similar, they probably aren’t. -_-

The Hoodie

This is the key piece of the collection #TheShire. It is, in essence, a huge circle with sleeves and a hood.

Inspiration

The One Ring, “There and Back Again”, “A perfectly round door, like a porthole,”… Tolkein’s works, and especially The Hobbit and LOTR are absolutely stuffed with circularity. It’s only fitting that a huge part of #TheShire is circles.

The draft for this hoodie was pretty simple (except for the hood, which has 5 pieces plus lining and facing). It’s just a huge circle with sleeves (flat-cut so no bother with easing), a whole for your legs, and a hood. Well, apart from the piecing. It’s a Celtic Knot (I’m part Irish so I wanted to put some of that in).

This is a page from my second sketchbook. The toile had “a few” changes to be made.

Hoodie 1

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(Also, I got a Wacom Intuos Art and I’ve started illustrating on Photoshop).

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Getting a model to fit the clothes was a huge bother, so I modelled some myself and got a mannequin to for the ones that are too big for me. 🙂

The fabrics are a paisley embossed scuba, a gold velvet, and a golden-khaki lining fabric. The zip pull is The One Ring on a piece of leather!

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So that is the Hoodie 🙂

Skinny Jeans Toile 1

Well, yesterday was horribly stressful (so much so that I was too tired to go to the Tolkien Society at UOY), but today was very good, so “swings and roundabouts” I suppose. 🙂

I toiled the “skinny” jeans for The Shire, but I hadn’t thoroughly checked the pattern before printing it, so it was a bit of a disaster (although it sewed what was possibly the neatest fly front zip I’ve ever sewn!).

These are the pages from my sketchbook:

The Shire Skinny Jeans Lay plan

These jeans are going to be made from stretch denim, with stretch needle cord knees (if I have enough fabric, otherwise, it may be the other way around).

I love free-motion work!

As part of my most recent module at college, I started doing more free-motion work. I’d done some before, without a free-motion foot, but not very much. I think I decided to do it more here because the concept seemed to suggest embroidery and I was NOT going to do it by hand (too time-consuming for college). So I got a Bernina foot #24 and watched some videos on YouTube.

I found out that not only can you do absolutely beautiful embroidery by free-motion, but you can make lace! It took a few goes to get anything really good, but I soon picked it up.

Free-motion lace
Free-motion lace
Free-motion embroidered Celtic Knot design

Helpful sources on YouTube include:

 

 

There were some others too, but I can’t find them anymore.

There is also this fascinating ebook I found (please note I do not have the rights to this ebook, but I don’t know where I found it).

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There are more of my samples on the Pinterest board for this module. Free-motion is my new favourite thing! 😀

 

How to Measure Yourself (or anyone else) for a Skirt Block

This is a throwback to a post I did a while ago on how to draft a skirt pattern. A reader messaged me and asked for a post on how to properly measure oneself, so I said I would do one. And here it is 🙂

The first thing to do is to tie some tape round your waist and your hips to keep a level. This is easier if you have a full-length mirror, which I currently do not. -_-

To get your front and back waist measurements place the end of the tape where you feel the side-most point of your waist it (this is all a matter of what feels right), wrap the tape around your waist and use your thumb nail to mark the other side-most point. Hold that and the waist measurement point (good thing you have two hands) and make a note of them.

Do the same for your hips. Be a little slack on the front of your hips if you like, especially if like so many of us, you have a bit of a tummy. 🙂

And do the same for your high hip measurement. This is along your pelvis bone line. On me that’s 8cm down from my waist at the CF. I know the measuring tape drooped a bit in the photo.

You will use this measurement to check that the darts aren’t too hollow and the side seams aren’t too curved when you shape them. I once scooped my back darts too much and now I have a high-waist skirt. 🙂

Measure from the waistline to the hipline front and back.

This is why a mirror helps: my hip tape dropped a bit at the back in the photo. 🙂

To make this easier/quicker, I’ve added an Excel file for you to download. It makes it quicker to get your dart measurements and so on ready for drafting your skirt pattern. Click here to access the file. 🙂

And here’s the link to the original tutorial: How to Draft a Custom-fit A-line Skirt Pattern.

Be sure to upload any makes to the Student Designer Facebook page!

Sabrina

Summertime Shorts

We’ve been having a heatwave here in Britain, and I needed some more shorts. I had what I thought was a pretty good pattern, but measuring the waistline I wonder how on Earth I ever managed to zip my un-stretched shorts up! I must have made some colossal mistakes when measuring or something because I’ve had to increase the waist measurement considerably (and, no, I haven’t got that much bigger — as if I could gain weight!).

The inspiration for these shorts is a blend of Audrey Hepburn’s shorts in Sabrina, and some shorts I have already designed and made. They are quite short, but not hot pants, and I’ve flared the legs a bit since toiling so they will hopefully be a bit more elegant.

Toiling

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The initial fit (after adjusting the waist measurement on Illustrator) was pretty good. The waistband pokes out a bit at the front, but I think that’s due to the fairly straight waistline on the front pieces. I’ve corrected that since. The waistline fits actually on my waistline all the way around. They’re comfortable.

I did have a 1cm discrepancy on the inseam — the back needed lengthening there, but now it matches the front. I think that may account for the funny fit on the toile.

I’ve since flared the back leg pieces so they don’t cup the cheeks so. I was working off a photo of Audrey Hepburn:

Audrey Hepburn filming for the film ‘Sabrina’

There seemed to be some variable camel toe on the front. It wasn’t major and I wasn’t sure what to do about it, so I’ve left it for now. We’ll see if it disappears when I use proper fabric. 🙂

 

Making

Summertime shorts, making

Now, partly in an effort not to use the iron (I don’t want to use too much electricity) and partly because I don’t know where my interfacing is, I have not fused the waistband on these shorts. Instead I am using my favourite notion: cotton tape. I stitched to the waistband on one seam-line before I did anything else, and I will stitch it along the fold-line next. On this line of stitching, I will ease it in by 0.5cm to give the fit of a contoured waistband, without the bother of actually drafting and cutting one (save fabric). This is kind of an experiment and we’ll see by the end of this post how it goes.

I am using an invisible zip because they are the easiest to sew, and you only need a 1cm seam allowance, so they’re the easiest and most economical to cut as well.

I have lined the back pockets too. I liked in inside, so I’ve left one the WS out, which you’ll see at the end. 🙂

(Bother! I just remembered that I forgot to use cotton tape on the hip pockets; they seem to be okay…)

Fabrics

Both of the fabrics for these shorts came from a previous college project (which was heavily inspired by Colette Sewing Patterns). One is a stretch jade denim, and the pocket linings are Liberty, both from eBay.

I was going to use the WS of this denim, but I kind of like the RS too. We’ll see if I make another pair from it, or if I use to for something else. 🙂

I’m a teensy bit out of practice with stretch fabrics, so the back pockets were minutely distorted, but I think I soon got the hang of it again. 🙂

 

The finished shorts

Annoyingly, my sewing machine pedal stopped working, so I had to sew using the start/stop button, which makes it harder. Anyway, I finished the shorts last night. I hand-stitched the waistband down inside, after bagging it out at the ends.

I hemmed the shorts by hand, and then found that I had to TS the edge down by machine anyway. I should have increased the hem allowance because, for some reason, I only used a 1cm hem allowance. I need about an inch. I could have used a bias facing, but I don’t know how much binding I have left…

Click on the images below for more details. 🙂

(Just trying out the gallery thing on WordPress — every one of those cuts my head off! lol)

All in all, I LOVE these shorts! They’re so comfy! They fit just right too.

 

Sabrina

 

Lace-Blocked Tee

This is a ‘quick’ project that has taken me about a month or so because my guitar kept distracting me and begging me to play it ;). It’s based on my TNT French Woven Tee pattern (self-drafted), but adapted to have a yoke-kimono cap sleeve, a separate bodice section, and the dart shifted higher up the side seam. I had the fabric in my stash from previous college projects and thought I’d use it up to make a nice summer top.

This was also an opportunity to try to improve my photography/modelling skills and as it is the middle of summer (hottest day of the year! Woo!) I could take advantage of the late golden hour.

Lace-blocked tee, front

The idea is that it looks like a bodice and tunic, sort of. A modern version, if you will, that doesn’t look like a costume. 🙂

To begin with the sleeves were huge and I didn’t like it. So I took them in at the shoulder seam and considerably reduced the length (about an inch or so). Regrettably I didn’t think to take photos as I was too eager to change it and see if I could make the top likeable. Which I did, and I’m happy with it now. There is, however, one slight issue: the back.

Lace-blocked tee, back

You can’t see it here, because I put the buttons on the wrong side (that’s not the issue).

Lace-blocked tee, back 2

Because of the way I finished the opening, you can see the yellow placket. Ugh. (Side note, the bottom of the placket DOES NOT look like that in real life. This must be a very bad angle).

Lace-blocked tee, details 1

Now for details. The top and bottom of the ‘bodice’ part are edged with running stitches. You may remember this feature from my FMP at Bishop. This top’s style continues from that collection. The neckline was finished by sewing stay tape along the WS, turning the s.a. under, and double-stitching. This allows for the nicest finish from the outside, I feel. The sleeves are hemmed similarly, but sans stay tape. Lace doesn’t fray, so neatening the seams is optional.

I chose to make the sleeves kimono sleeves. I thought this would be best. It uses less fabric and gives a cleaner look to the top.

(PS. The safety pin is a political thing as a result of Brexit. It’s to show that I won’t be racially abusive to you, so you can talk to me. 🙂 )

Lace-blocked tee, details 2

The top button is a cool decorative one from my button jar. The rest are clear ones. I like using clear buttons on light-coloured fabrics. I think it looks more expensive. (Gah! In all these photos the edges of the top don’t line up! They did when I was sewing. I’m going to have to ask someone in real life how it looks!)

All in all, I’m quite pleased with this new top. It’s comfortable to wear (as it should be, having been drafted from my TNT block) and it looks good.

— Sabrina

Zephyr Cycling Jacket

So this is my first completed project at York College: a cycling jacket. I’m reasonably pleased with it. Are there things I would change? Of course! Am I going to? Not this month. Maybe if I make another one in my size (this is one or two sizes above me). But this one fits adequately. And it’s comfortable. And the fabric is getting cosier the more I handle it. Not to dilly-dally, here is what the jacket looks like:

Zephyr Cycling JacketZephyr Cycling Jacket Side View

Zephyr Cycling Jacket Back View
I have said it before: anyone who can take a good picture of their own back view has my admiration. It is difficult.

As you may have noticed or suspected, there are more cycling-specific features to this jacket than just a high-low hem.

The most obvious element is the reflective tape on the pockets, back and sleeve. I wanted to have 3M stuff that doesn’t show in the day, but that is extremely expensive and hard to come by, except in the stick-on stuff that is therefore unsewable (new word) and unlaunderable (another one). So I found some silver sew-on stuff on eBay and used that.

Another thing is the back Louvre vent. This is a fairly simple thing to make. Originally I had it too high up the back and it looked wrong and would probably not have been as effective.

Accordion Gussets

Next come the accordion gussets. These I noticed on a motorcycling jacket. One of the uncomfortable things with ordinary jackets on a bicycle is that when you lean forward the jacket rides up into the back of your head and gets tight across your back. The accordion gussets give you extra room for movement.

When I made up the toile I found that the accordion gussets worked to give me extra range of motion, but didn’t go back neatly into place. The solution was to use elastic to attach the inner part of the pleat to the jacket’s seam allowances. I found out afterwards that this was fairly standard practice. It did the trick.

Toile testing:

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This is what accordion gussets look like. On the final jacket I stitched them closed about half-way down because you don’t need the pleat at the top.
Accordion Gusset without elastic
This is what happens if you don’t use elastic to draw the pleat back in when you lower your arms. It’s messy.

I had thought to use a stretch stay like I saw on the Levi’s Commuter Jacket in the York store. When I was making up the jacket, I came to the part where I would sew one in (having already cut it) and decided that it wouldn’t have enough pull to do the job, so I used elastic. In retrospect it might have worked if I had drafted it with negative ease, but that’s something to think about next time.

Back Pockets

Apparently women cyclists complain that their cycling jackets don’t have three pockets at the back, so I’ve put three pockets on here. There are two patch pockets with elasticated top edges (need better elastic than this rubber stuff) and a pleated centre pocket with a recessed zip.

Now I’ve made the jacket I can see that the side pockets need to be higher at the side seams. I think I might add poppers to keep them closed better. It will make them more functional as pockets.

The centre pocket is huge! It goes all the way down to the hem. I have never used one because I’ve never had a jacket with one, but I’m told they’re useful, so I will see.

In-sleeve pockets

Zephyr Cycling Jacket In-sleeve Pocket Key-fob

I got this idea from on of the jackets in Timothy Everest’s collaboration with Rapha (possibly the most stylish existing cycle-wear brand!) I suppose the idea is to have somewhere to keep your lock key or a tissue. We all know the terror of a runny nose while cycling!

Now, as it turns out, you can’t blind-hem the jacket sleeve where the pocket is. Sounds obvious now, but I was doing that late at night. (When will I learn?) Fortunately I was too lazy to do it on both sleeves so the one with the key fob is perfectly good.

These are basically in-seam pockets with an invisible zip.  It took me two samples get it right. You have to think about what you’re doing for the first few because it can get a little bit confusing.

Shoulder Strengtheners

(Proper word please. :))

I was going to add epaulettes, but there is already a lot of bulk here. The purpose is to help your bag stay on your shoulder. “In real life” I think I’d use a waterproofed suede because it would have good grip. Otherwise leather.

Apart from the practicality, I think these really finish the look of the jacket.

The Collar

You know how I like a well-drafted collar. Contrary to habit I draped this. And then made a draft. I really like how it rolls when open. It’s also just right for a close fit over the chin when done up.

The pattern is quite a different shape to any you find in modern pattern books and the opposite to Fasanella’s collar draft. Nothing against hers. You can draft some very nice collars that way. It just wasn’t what I wanted this time. I think  my neckline is lower than hers is at the back and that is why my way worked better this time.

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My convertible collar draft.

Also, the top collar is ribbing so it is nice and soft. It would be lovely to have cashmere or merino, but I got what I could in London. I think it’s synthetic but I’d have to take a flame to it to find out. I may do that later. I expect if it’s synthetic it will melt, and if it’s cotton it will burn.

CF Separating Zip with shield and storm guard

To keep out the rain. The jackets on the market have little turn-over things at the top (name please). I should have allowed more for turn-of-cloth here. Otherwise I am quite pleased with it.

Pit-vents

pit-vents

Not actually at the underarms, so they ought probably to have a different name. These are lapped zips interrupting a princess seam, Between them and the lining are pieces of mesh shaped roughly like surfboards to stop people mistaking the vents for pockets. The mesh is sewn to the zips.

If you don’t know because you’re not a cyclist, the idea behind pit-vents is that you can let cool air in without your having to open your jacket and expose your entire front to the wind and rain.

I think I’d like these to be a bit longer, but I’m pleased with their neatness.

Wrist-Gaiters with thumb holes

It’s horrid to have the wind rush up your sleeves so I’ve put some cosy wrist-gaiters in with thumb loops to keep them down. I made the sleeve linings extra long to accommodate this but the penny has just dropped that that makes no difference as I have stitched the gaiters to the sleeve facings which do not move. Not amused. Grumbles like Marge. The gaiters ought to have been stitched into an extra seam in the sleeve linings. It’s a good thing the sleeves are too long for me. Will make a note of it in my project…

So they are the cycling-specific features. Something else I did was to buy a practically new coat at a charity shop (for £8!) and reverse-engineer it, then use some of what I’d learned when bagging the lining on this jacket. Consequently, this is the best one I’ve done so far. I tacked the shell to the lining at neck and side seams, and, using cotton 6mm tape, at the shoulder points. I also used cotton tape on the collar’s outer edge and the hemline because I knew they would stretch and wave if I didn’t. Cotton tape is an invaluable notion!

I will spray the jacket with Jack Pyke to waterproof it. Of course, wool is naturally water-resistant, but that varies with quality and type. I got this anonymous melton from the cupboard at college (there’s one major benefit to attending York College, UK!) so I don’t know much about it.

The lining came from the same place, but it’s definitely synthetic, which will make the vents worth having. It was surprisingly easy to cut and sew. Even more surprising was when I found that my so-blunt-they-only-cut-paper scissors cut it better than my fabric scissors.

So am I done with this project now? Nope. I’ve got enough paperwork to do to redecorate the flat. You want to see my to-do list, just for this project?

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I’ll show you some of my sketchbook and the results of the above to-do list later. I have done some of it (thank goodness!), but I still have a lot to do, including look for a job to last me at least until the summer, because the bike shop doesn’t need me in the slow season. At least I’ll have the weekends to do my college work. And I have my savings, loans and grant to live on so I’ll be alright.

Till next time,

Sabrina