Sunday, 23 August 2015

How To... Lengthen Your Dresses

Hi Everyone, 

Hope you've had a good weekend. A few weeks ago I posted about how I recently lengthened a couple of dresses for a friend of mine (read about it here), it was an easy and pretty quick alteration so as promised here is my little 'How to' guide for anyone looking to lengthen any dresses or skirts by adding a band of fabric at the hem.

I've combined hand drawn doodles and home "Photoshop" for this tutorial, I'm looking to invest in Adobe Illustrator for my new laptop which would have been my first choice for something like this. But as I'm still counting the pennies to get my hands on that I hope the doodles do the trick!
Failing that, hopefully next time I'll have the sense to photograph the process as I work!

Here we go!

You will need:

Tape Measure
Rubber (just incase!)
Scissors (Paper & Fabric)
Fabric for the band (quantity depends on the length your are adding on/size of your dress hem)
Thread (to match your fabric)
Iron/Ironing Board


Sewing Machine

The Technique

1. Measure how much length you want to add on to the garment. If you're altering someone else's clothes then great! They can put the dress/skirt on and you can measure easily. If it's for yourself then you may need a lovely assistant or mirror to help you measure properly. Take note of how much length you are adding on (Measurement A)

2. Measure the circumference of your hem. I like to make my hem band out of 2 pieces that match at the side seams - so for this I would take note of the front hem & back hem measurements. (Measurement B)

3. Draw up a pattern piece for your hem band. Draw a rectangle with Width of Front/Back Hem x Length to be added on. Don't forget to add your seam allowances all the way around. I use a 1cm seam allowance as standard. You should end up with a rectangle like this.

4. Put the pattern piece onto your fabric making sure you have the fabric with right sides (RS) together and the pattern piece on the right grain line. Pin into place & cut out.

5. Now you'll have two rectangular pieces. Overlock the two short sides & one long one (this long side will become your new hem).

6. With RS of the fabric together, sew the rectangles together down the short sides & then press the seams open. Now you have one long band to sew onto your dress.

I find it easiest to work with the least amount of fabric at a time when I am sewing. So this is the perfect time to sew the hem of the band so you don't have to battle with the whole dress under the machine once it's all sewn together.

7. Press the overlocked edge up on the inside approx 3mm more than the width of the overlock stitching then machine with a straight stitch into place. This is what we called a 'Pinstitch Hem' at my last workplace, it's very easy to do and works well on most garments. Press your stitching to give a nice crisp edge.

8. Pin the band to the bottom of the dress (RS to RS) making sure you match up any seams. Then sew into place.

9. Remove pins & press the seam open first. Then press the seam allowances together and down towards the hem before overlocking together. Be careful here to only overlock the seam allowances together and not catch any other part of the dress into the stitching. And yeah, I've done it before, and it's awful! 

10. Give the overlocked seam another press to make sure it's sitting downward towards the hem. Then on the RS of the hem band sew a line of stitching just below the seam. (Topstiching). This will hold the seam allowances in place & is something I like to do as I think it gives a crisper neater finish.

11. Check for any left over pins, trim any long threads and give your garment a final press

And... Ta Dahh!

There you have your lovely lengthened dresses!

Depending how much length you need adding onto the dress/skirt, you can always use a wide ribbon instead of fabric. And you could always add ribbon or fabric on to the hem on any clothing you already have to give it a bit of a revamp! I've also used this technique on a playsuit where the shorts were definitely on the skimpy side!

So that's my first 'How to' done, what did you think? I'm thinking of writing up other 'How to's  or other sewing tips I come across. Any comments or thoughts let me know, this blog is a bit of a learning process for me to as I document my creative ventures.

If you try this yourself let me know how it went or if you have a better technique yourself.

Happy Sewing!

Em x

Monday, 17 August 2015

Hepburn and Holiday at the House

Hi Everyone,

Hope you had a lovely weekend!

This post is somewhat of a brag about my weekend, particularly yesterday which was one of the loveliest days out I've had in a while. I spent the day in London having some quality girl time with my Mum. Now, my Mum is my creative, arty fashion and costume buddy and always comes with me to galleries,exhibitions and events. I'm so glad we get to have these days out together because not only do we have a lovely time together, let's face it... our significant others are not going to enjoy spending hours looking at vintage dresses and nothing ruins a creative, inspirational time like the immortal words "Can we go now?"!!

Yesterday our trip to London was focused on one person, Audrey Hepburn.

My style icon and inspiration.

First port of call was the National Portrait Gallery for their current exhibition Audrey Hepburn: Portraits of an Icon.

Image: E Youens

And what a gorgeous exhibition it was too!

Carefully selected photos documenting Audrey's life from ballet school, as an emerging starlet and her later life. There are some fantastic photos, some are instantly recognisable some I had never seen before. For me it was her eyes that stood out the most in every photo, they were just beautiful.

Our final stop of the day - and the main reason for heading into the capital - was for Film4's Summer Screen at Somerset House, where they were showing the Hepburn classic Roman Holiday, starring Gregory Peck in his first comedic role alongside Hepburn.

Image: E Youens

According to Film4's introduction, this years showing of Roman Holiday was the first Hepburn film to ever be shown at their screenings, can you believe it!? As the performance sold out I'm sure it won't be the last Audrey film to grace their giant screen!

I'd only seen Roman Holiday once or twice before, but it really is a beautiful film. Watching it again meant I picked up on much more of the comedic lines, and appreciated the developing relationship between Hepburn & Peck's characters. I was completely drawn into this film as I watched it, I wanted to be dancing on the boat and taking scooter rides around Rome!

Roman Holiday 1953 photo: Audrey Hepburn (Roman Holiday) AudreyHepburnRomanHoliday03GregoryP.jpg

Roman Holiday 1953 photo: liar biter liarbiter.jpg

Costumes for Roman Holiday were designed by the legendary Edith Head, winning her an Oscar in the process. I love the simple styling details of Audrey's costumes, the striped neckerchief and the cross strap ballet pumps. Such a contrast to the royal regalia her character is normally meant to be dressed in, but without looking too try hard. The clothes give off an innocent, care-free attitude which is precisely how the character of Princess Anne is.

I've loved Audrey Hepburn ever since I watched her in Sabrina, when I was about 13 years old. She's beautiful, graceful and elegant, yet has a cheeky charming side to her too.  I think the screening yesterday has definitely pushed Roman Holiday up in my list of favourite Hepburn films, and due to the NPG exhibition I'm even more determined to watch some of her later films too.

Somerset House was a great place to watch the film too, luckily the weather was nice and there wasn't any rain! Though I know for next time to take a bigger pillow to sit on! I'll be keeping a eye out for Film4's Summer Screens next year too, to see what other classic movies I can take my Mum too.

As always, I've collected some lovely images using Pinterest, so take a look and view my Audrey Hepburn Pinterest Board here

You can buy tickets to the NPG exhibition 'Audrey Hepburn: Portraits of an Icon' here

I would definitely recommend a visit!

Have a good week!

Em x

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Book Club: McCalls Step by Step Sewing Guide

Time for another book club feature. This time it's McCalls Step by Step Guide to Sewing. I picked this book up at a vintage fair in my home town a few years ago and it's jam packed with loads of hints, tips and guidance on all kinds of sewing techniques.

This book was published in 1969 and I've actually referred to it a few times when I've been sewing.
I like the layout and design of the book, as well as the illustrations that are in it. The Step by Step Guide covers loads of areas of sewing including, pattern cutting amendments, lay plans, garment construction and finishing techniques.

I love thinking about what clothes could've been made using the book, it's like a little piece of time travel!

Em x

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Coletterie - Wardrobe Architect: Week 10

Hi everyone,

Hope the start of the week has been good to you, and if not don't fear as today is Wednesday, halfway through the week and getting ever closer to the weekend!

So I'm powering on through Wardrobe Architect and here we are at Week 10 in which we are creating a capsule colour palette for the season (AW15 in my case).  I've chosen a couple of colours from each category I came up with in Week 6 and this has formed my capsule colour palette.

Take a look below.

My full colour palette from Week 6. 
I've redone the palette so everything fits on one page*, and looks pretty good I think!
(*Nothing to do with the fact I lost the original file in the recent computer havoc... nothing to do with that at all... ahem!*)

And here's the capsule palette for AW15.

I've chosen some of the richer colours with bright highlights as I tend to head towards wearing black in a big way in the winter and this is something I'd like to change about my wardrobe.

The Coletterie website says that next week (Week 11) we'll start deciding what we want to sew. I'm super excited about this as I have so much fabric laying around, I'm looking to get my teeth into a new project!

I also have some other blog posts planned featuring another finished sewing project, my first 'How To' tutorial and one of my style icons, so check back again soon!

Have a good week!

Em x