Category Archives: sewing

Upcycling, so now I know!

“Upcycling is the art of reusing unwanted items by converting them into something better.”

SOooo,  that’s what I was doing when I made this evening dress from a second-hand silk chiffon sari I bought at a market for 30£ a few years ago!

Though I wouldn’t say ‘better’ I’d say ‘something else’. It’s all relative, the better-ness or not of things isn’t it.

When I bought the sari I had no immediate plans for it, it was just a lovely fabric and appealed to the magpie in me …. I love a bit of sparkle n’ shine.

However the bias dress possibilities were immediately apparent once I began wafting it around and draping it against myself and this dress was made in a day. Careful cutting out to get the motifs well placed on my pattern took the most time and a couple of extra motifs needed to be cut out and hand appliqued in place to fill gaps as well as the edging which I cut off and hand sewed on the seam below the bust.

The bodice is on the straight grain and the two piece skirt on the bias with a side zip up to the armhole. I machine pin-hemmed the neckline and armholes and that was it.  A very simple make as the wonderful fabric does all the work. And enough left to make a large stole.

While looking at it the other day to do this photo I realised that the chiffon around the neck and shoulders is now so fragile it’s finally coming apart. So some backing with flesh colour chiffon or complete replacing with new black is in order but not very high on my list at the mo.

I made a couple for friends after this one out of sequined thin cotton saris as nylon ones just won’t hang well and the dealer had no more silk chiffon ones. Very pretty as well but more ‘bare foot & festival’ in feeling whereas this one actually passed perfectly as a 1930’s evening gown when all dressed up with the right hair and accessories. The local sari dealer is unfortunately gone now and I’m not happy to buy  from the internet as I like to actually feel the weight of fabrics and see how they hang before I get my wallet out. I know if I ever make it to India what my suitcase will be stuffed with when I come home.

The little bag in my photo is from Accessorize a couple of years back. A good place to find vintage style accessories… especially bags.

some of the bags I like from the current Accessorize collection and the decade I imagine they’d work with style-wise.

Some progress is better than none.

black kimono with hand appliqed lade edges

So while waiting for those lingerie patterns I ordered for a friend from So Vintage patterns (I accidentally had them sent to New Mexico instead of England… don’t ask) I finally got working on this kimono again to get me in the mood and to get my hand-sewing back up to speed. The lace has been hand whipped on both sleeves now, the side seams have been french-seamed and lace has been basted in place all around the front edges. That will definitely take more than a couple of evenings to sew on… but Rome wasn’t built in a day, or even in a year-  which is the length of time this kimono has been in-work.

Some progress is better than none and it’s getting there!

hand-whipped lace on sleeve

Rouleaux obsession

1940s dress with rouloeu decoration on the sleeves

My current rouleaux obsession has started because of this lovely early 40’s dress. I’ve borrowed it from the costume house I often do work for as I’m feeling the need to make  a similar one for myself.

I’ve made the dress pattern, readied lengths of rouleaux from my fabric and figured out how to make the lozenge shapes. The fabric I’m using is a pale stone colour cotton/linen blend. Lots of applique work ahead!


The satin dress below is an original a client bought from eBay. Lovely but just too tatty in the flesh to wear on her wedding day. I’m recreating it for her in heavy silk satin but re-using the original leaf collar. I suspect that is from yet a different dress even as the satin colour doesn’t match the satin of the dress body.

Really rather glad I don’t have to remake that .

And sew to begin…

 

These pics  are of a romantic lace wedding dress I designed and made last summer that I was particularly happy with.

It was vintage in feel if not strictly adhering to a particular decade.

Top layer was french lace hand pieced together so as to appear seamless. Under layer was a heavy silk crepe lined in a light weight silk satin and all was supported by a built in cotton tulle corselet. The 3 metre silk tulle veil was edged with a tiny zigzag stitch and had 36 lace flowers hand appliqued on near the front and back edges. All in all  200 hour make.

A happy ending for my part, only the beginning of the story on theirs.
the inside matters-cotton tulle corselet , lightly boned which supports the whole dress..

 

 

Appliqued cut out lace flowers with a tiny glass bead in the centres which caught the light just enough.