Thursday, 22 January 2015

Onto the fabric shopping...

Yeah, I know, this one doesn't sound overly exciting does it?

To be fair, I'm not too sure on where to start with the whole 'making the dresses' thing, so I'm just going to do a short note on the fabric first, to get into it slowly!

If you all haven't noticed, i'm awesome at procrastinating. You know people always say you have one skill? Well, mine is definitely the ability to ignore something I really shouldn't, and procrastinate.

The other day I explained how long it took me to find the pattern. Before I decided on a pattern, I actually bought some cheap fabric from a shop down the road from me, in two shades of green, and two shades of dusky pink. They were all fine, but cheap, and I decided in the end that working with that much fabric probably required decent quality fabric for a change, if I was ever going to enjoy the process.

We were so lucky with the fabric buying. My mum and I spent the weekend in Birmingham staying with my brothers girlfriend's (now wife's) mum (complicated, but it was a brilliant weekend - and I thought you'd all like to know the full story...). I was still doing a brilliant job of doing a lot of wedding blog stalking (mainly Rock My Wedding, if you're looking for a good one) and Pinterest-ing, but not a lot of actually making decisions and sorting things.

That weekend though, we were on a mission. With the combined shopping experience of us four, we managed to buy all the fabric, for the bridesmaids dresses and all the napkins, and my wedding shoes!

The first fabric we found was on a market stall in Birmingham, which I just spotted when walking passed. As I'd finally made the decision of the Elisalix dress, the upholstery weight fabric was perfect. The stall owner told me it was £2.50 a meter, and as I was trying to get over my shock and hiding my 'shocked face' while my mum was working out the meters required, he came over to say he'd got it wrong - it was actually £2 a meter. We bought the whole roll. Brilliant.

The next fabric was from the Silk Shop, which is just like an adult sweetie shop - it's so full of rows and rows of towering fabric.

One of the first things I'd decided was that I wasn't going to make my girls wear something horrible and shiny - no silk or satin. Hmm. That decision really didn't last long, but seeing as one of the girls who'd be wearing it was with me and also loved it, that was acceptable, yeah?

It was gorgeous fabric - a really heavy satin and a gorgeous grape maroon, and only slightly over budget at £13 a meter. As it's really heavy, it sits really beautifully and isn't the clingy satin type.

It's a bit creased - whoops.

So that really only left making the dresses... (oh, and carrying all that fabric home - weighed a tonne!)


Wednesday, 21 January 2015

The beginning of the Bridesmaids dress saga

A bit of background - the HusBeast and me have been together a long time. We'd been together so long that people had stopped asking us when we were going to get married, we'd been batting that question off for that many years.

So when we finally decided to go for it, we knew that not only was it was going to be huge, it had to be awesome. Tip to the young non-marrieds out there - be the first of your friends to get married, before they have significant others and children that you also need to invite!! Sorry - that sounds mean - it was the best day ever, mainly as we have the best friends and family in the world.

Right, back on track.

As I've said before, I'm really only a hobby dressmaker. I love to do crafty things, but I can probably count on one hand the number of decent items I've made and wore more than once. I'm not sure why the idea of making all seven dresses seemed like a good one, but once i'd had it, then dismissing it seemed to feel a bit like I'd be a failure.

This is where I started doing a lot of googling, I was desperate for any tips that might help with this daft task i'd just assigned myself. Although I read loads of bits and pieces, I couldn't find anyone who'd undertaken such a number of dresses... I should have taken the hint!

My girls are all great. They are all friends from different times: secondary school, uni, training, and a sister-in-law, I've been a bridesmaid a lot and I know from experience that finding a dress to suit everyone would have been a nightmare. I think we've got a girl who has every shape there!!

Secretly, I always wanted the ByHandLondon Elisalex dress - I love it. I made myself one out of old curtain fabric from Oxfam and felt a million dollars in it. I remember reading a blog post on it where they commented on how the extenuated, almost cartoon-like shape of the hips makes your waist look tiny and is just so feminine and fun. Not all the girls agreed though, especially the more pear shaped ones, who were really anxious about that shape of silhouette.

So the first pattern I found was the Simplicity 1606

These photos are terrible, by the way. I'm wearing a dress made out of a bed sheet from Oxfam, and slippers, and a very goofy face... My dedication to show you the process!

I thought this would be a good plan, as it comes (I first typed this as 'cups' - can you tell what I was thinking about?!) already sized with multiple bra sizes. Have any of you tried to make this pattern, or one of this range? I'm not sure if it's the same with all the patterns in this range, but it advises you against a toile and you kinda make the dress but baste it together only, then take it apart, make fitting adjustments, then put it all back together properly. With some boning in there too. All a bit confusing. And the dress, to be so descriptive, was just a bit 'meh'.

The next pattern I found was pretty similar, mccalls m6557

I bet you're all gutted - but I haven't got a photo of this one. In fact, I'm not even sure I got past making the top. Again, I'm not sure why I went for this one. I mean, it's a nice dress. But it's not a nice enough dress, for a bridesmaid. Well to be fair, I'm sure it would have been, if I wanted it to be ;)

I think I might have been procrastinating!

As I said before - I just wanted the Elisalex. From the beginning, the wedding was going to be fun and full of dancing, and this dress would work so well. But I also knew that half my girls had already said they didn't want it. Hmmm, tricksy.

I hadn't made the Flora dress yet and (i'm sorry to say) didn't think it was overly inspiring, so continued looking around for a pattern that maybe might go along with the Elisalex, until one of the bridesmaids phoned me with the fabulous news that she was expecting her second baby, which was due about 6 weeks before the wedding. Meaning she'd need a dress with easy access to feed in - and so the decision was made. With the wrap style Flora top, just a bit more fabric in the top would give her the flexibility to feed (or so I thought... it didn't quite work out this way but that's for another day!).

If you think of the flexibility of the patterns, they offer both round neck and v-neck, and totally different skirts, the option of sleeves and pockets, and even straight or high/low hem options. After a mammoth email to all the girls with 8 million links to different blogs and Pinterest pictures, it meant they could all pick and choose which bits of which they thought they'd be most comfortable in. 

So there's the story of choosing a pattern to match seven very different figures. I've kinda left out all the cups of tea, panicking, blog searching, internet shopping, panicking, and general procrastination, but I'm sure you can all imagine it ;)

Next time, I'll talk fabric shopping and the first few dresses.


Tuesday, 20 January 2015

The bridesmaids dresses...

Hi everyone,

I honestly can't begin to say how touched I've been by all the lovely comments and attention me and the girls and, mainly, the dresses have received - it's really meant the world to me. So thank you.

In the middle of the bridesmaids dress project, I emailed the team at ByHand London and they were so lovely and helpful, I thought they might appreciate a photo of the finished articles. When they then asked me if they could put it out on their social media I was really nervous - I know I'm writing a blog and all, but I'm not massively into the whole self promotion stuff (I think its my Yorkshire-ness).

But when I remembered how many blogs I trawled looking for help and advice, and to see if any other nutters out there had done similar to make sure it was possible, I thought I should change my outlook. That, and the dress patterns they make are so amazing, and they all seem so lovely, they deserve to be able to show off the dresses!

I promise I'll write in depth posts about the whole process but I'm really swamped with work at the moment - give me a few days and check back, its so lovely to have you all here!

Thanks for looking,
L (and all my lovely bridesmaids) x

Photo by the amazing Andy Gaines

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Turia dungarees and procrastination

So this post today might just count as procrastinating.

The next on my list of makes is the Turia dungarees.

I'm not sure what it is about dungarees, but I have a strange attraction to them. I'm not sure if these ones will ever be worn outside my flat but I just can't resist. I'm trying to persuade myself it's all about learning the techniques - using denim, fitting the trousers, those snazzy denim seams... but it's not. It's because dungarees are just plain cool.

Yesterday I went to Goldhawk Road with the Hus-Beast to buy some denim. I was thinking a dark black denim would look cute, but the only dark denim they had was more of a washed out black which didn't quite fit the job. Instead I got a dark blue with a bit of a stretch, but quite a heavy weight to it. I got the trimmings, came home and cut out the pattern pieces, ironing them properly like a good girl.

But that's where I've stopped. The hurdle - how do you toile a pair of dungarees? I'm going to have to do one - I've got a strangely long torso which is a nightmare in any kind of one piece. But do I do the whole shebang? Does anyone have any recommendations?

Wish me luck peeps!


Thursday, 8 January 2015

A 'creative lull' buster.

So my first real post of my new sewing blog is going to be about knitting.

Go figure!

I don't really like New Year, instead of uplifting I tend to find it a little melancholic and sad, not that I'm not looking forward to the new year but I had such a fab year last year, it seemed a little weird to wave it off smiling.

I'm not too sure on the whole 'new years resolution' either - if you're going to change something, why wait till January?

But, saying all that, I did decide to use some of this non-wedding planning spare time I now have in being more creative. Last year I made seven bridesmaids dresses (yes, I am nuts, And yes, I will blog about this as I searched for ages for advice and couldn't find any!), as well as all the other random wedding paraphernalia you end up making, such as flower girl headdresses and decorating randoms.

Whereas this year seemed a bit, well, goal less.

Obviously, as soon as I decided to be more creative, I really fell into a creative hole. Do any of you feel that way? What do you do to get out of your rut?

I tidied all my sewing things and re organised it.

I sorted through my huge UFO pile and actually got rid or unpicked loads of it, which felt so liberating!

And still couldn't find anything to lure me in.

So instead of what I normally do, which would be randomly start cutting out a pattern I wasn't too sure I wanted in a fabric I wasn't too sure about, I thought i'd sit tight for a bit and do a bit of knitting. One of our friends is due to have a baby in mid January, so what's better than a little hand made cardy for a newborn? Well, probably a well knitted one!

My knitting is patchy at best. I can knit scarves pretty well, but other than that I lose concentration and concentrating on the numbers and the counting just isn't my strong suit.

I'm semi pleased with how it turned out. The pattern was easy to follow and the instructions you can find all over youtube make such a difference don't they? But I'm still going to be handing it over with a 'I'm sorry it's crap but here you go' conversation.

This is the pattern I used:Baby Wrap Crossover Cardigan

Edit - Wow - I've just looked at this link to check it's working and they're now charging £2.99 for it. Sorry - it used to be free!

Onto the photos (which are terrible by the way - we've lent our decent camera to my brother who's on safari, and I lost my iPhone so am using a really old phone which takes terrible washed out looking photos - but it's better than nothing?):

As you can see, it's quite cute, and as we don't know what flavor the little one is going to be yet, green is a nice safe colour. It didn't have any button holes to put in which is one of the main reasons I went for the pattern and it's easy and relatively quick to sew up, even for a slow knitter like me.

I think the worst 'surprise' that I managed though was the mess I made of the seams on the arms - can you see? I really need to look at how to cast on neater - the holes I left were huge, and so when it came to knitting it up it looks really messy.

So in summing up - I'm not sure - can I really give this a gift when it looks like this?!


Wednesday, 7 January 2015


Well hello, fancy meeting you here. 

Do you come here often?

Sorry - that's terrible isn't it?

So much pressure about the first blog post and I go and start it with that...

Hi, and thanks so much for coming to read my daft blog.

I'm Laura.  I've thought about writing a blog (along with the rest of the world) for such a long time - so here goes. 

I live in a small sunny flat with my husband and work full time in London, but I have always been a generally crafty person, I love to make new things and gifts and try to be creative. 

However, I really don't devote anywhere near as much time to it as I should. After a whirlwind of a year last year; with a new job, getting married, an awesome honeymoon, then my brothers wedding and Christmas, I just didn't have chance to spend any time spent crafting for pleasure.

How is it that getting married is such an all consuming thing to plan? I know everyone tells you it is, but I just brushed this aside until I went through it myself, and now i'm on the other side I still don't understand how or why it's so time consuming - but it just really is!

So onto the aim of this blog. If you stick with me, I would love to use this area not just to chart my progress and to discuss ideas and failures with new friends, but to inspire me and spur me on to progress in my crafts, to push myself to learn more and try new techniques. As craft is just a hobby for me, I find it difficult to step out of my comfort zone and really push myself to get better with my projects, so i'm hopefully going to be embarrassed into trying new things! Oh, and it might mean i'm more likely to actually finish my projects!

Anyway, so that's the first one over and done with. 

Gosh - wish me luck with the next one!