Leslie Caron wannabe

almond rock american in paris burda dress

I love a good musical, especially a Gene Kelly musical. An American In Paris is completely fabulous.

When I saw Burda’s Viva La Diva spread in issue 11/2014 I fell hard for the AIP inspired dress. This collection featured iconic gowns from favourite films. The Eva Green Casino Royale gown and Marilyn Monroe Gentlemen Prefer Blondes halter dress are also gorgeous but the Leslie Caron dress had me hooked. Deliciously vintage looking and the perfect next #vintagepledge dress.

almond rock american in paris burda dress

almond rock american in paris burda dress

I haven’t bought Burda since a terrible incident with a dress in 2012. Those pattern sheets are HORRIBLE. But I’m a different sewist now… and apparently I can handle Burda magazines again! As luck would have it, this back issue was in the office so I borrowed it to get started on this dress.

almond rock american in paris burda dress

I wanted to use this polka dot satin from B&M Fabrics in Leeds with its scattered spots that dissolve into almost solid red. The border actually runs across both selvedges but I bought 3m to account for that. I knew I’d use the border print along the skirt hem.

almond rock american in paris burda dress

The bodice has an outer layer, an interlining which I interfaced and a lining. The drape is made by gathering three edges. The drapes look terrible when the dress is hung up but then when worn they sit really well on the body. The rouleaux straps and side zipper are the only support so I decided to add boding to the back bodice seams.

almond rock american in paris burda dress

I didn’t use the skirt frills as I though that would be overkill and just used the gathered skirt underneath. I finished the hem with an overlocked rolled hem.

almond rock burda dress american in paris

There’s actually a really nice version of the dress with a full back bodice that extends into sleeves. I might make this too at some point.

almond rock american in paris burda dress almond rock american in paris burda dress

Overall I’m really happy with the dress. I wore it to a longtime friend’s wedding where I gave a reading about the cosmos (“we are all made of star stuff”) while I stood under a huge oak tree. It was a lovely day and the dress is now a lasting reminder of that. Maybe I’ll wear it to a showing of the live stage version of American In Paris one day! Or just out for dinner in Paris?! A girl can dream.

Here’s a little bonus cat pic since it went down quite well last time heeehee.

almond rock american in paris burda dress

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Textile Printing at Leeds Art College

Hello everyone!
I thought it was about time for a full round up of my Textile Printing course. This is going to be picture heavy I’m afraid and I’ve not even included all the pictures!

almond rock textile printing leeds art college

Weeks 1 and 2 we worked with disperse printing using heat set dyes on man made fabrics. Using paper soaked in dye and a giant heatpress, I played with geometric shapes on coloured polyester and crepe.

almond rock textile printing leeds art college

almond rock textile printing leeds art collegealmond rock textile printing leeds art college

Week 3 we made paper stencils using scalpels and when taped to mesh screens we could pull binder ink through onto any fabric we liked. Mine was an utter disaster due to poor squeegee technique and rubbish stencil.

Week 4 was about free form painting direct onto a screen using Procion reactive dyes. I printed a splatter print onto cotton lawn and silk.

almond rock textile printing leeds art college

Weeks 5 and 6 we prepped for future sessions by coating screens in light sensitive emulsion and thanks to a huge light box we exposed imagery onto the mesh. We drew the images in thick black pen to act as positives and when the screen was exposed the black areas washed away creating a negative that would allow ink to pass through in just those areas. I chose pineapples!!

almond rock textile printing leeds art college

While our screens set we also dyed silk, satin, velvet and cotton in big pans using tiny amounts of dye and lots of hot water. Excitingly I also got to use the digital printers while our fabrics soaked! I printed 1.5m of paper crane print cotton drill and 1.5m of painterly triangle print silk.

almond rock textile printing leeds art college

almond rock textile printing leeds art college

Week 7 was the start of my pineapples adventures! We pulled binder ink through our screens onto any fabrics we wanted. I chose to print fluorescent pink ink on white cotton and crepe de chine and black ink on brown polyester.

almond rock textile printing leeds art college

almond rock textile printing leeds art college

Week 8 we tried discharge screenprinting where a smelly seaweed-based paste bleaches the colour from dyed fabric. As well as devore printing which removes cellulose fibres leaving the man made fabric base behind – e.g removing the nap from velvet to create a relief. I used my pineapple screen again to discharge print on my dyed cotton and silk. And freestyled a brush painted devore print on my dyed satin and velvet.

almond rock textile printing leeds art college
almond rock textile printing leeds art college

Weeks 9 and 10 I decided to expose a new screen with hummingbirds and printed onto some colourful viscose. I printed teal ink on pink and pink ink on purple. Plus I had time for a sneaky little bit more disperse printing.

almond rock textile printing leeds art college

It was such a wonderful course, I’m actually a little sad I can’t repeat it next term but I’ve already signed up to a pattern drafting course.

Here are the details for Textile Printing: The course I did was a short evening course run by Leeds Art College, over 10 weeks for 2.5hrs. The tutor is Kirstie Williams who also runs independent print courses.

The course costs £185 with all materials provided but you bring extra if you want to print something specific.

I ended up with enough fabric for 3 dresses, 4 tops, and plenty of A2 pieces for tote bags or small garments – silk pineapple knickers perhaps?!

The new term starts in a couple of weeks so I suggest you sign yourself up asap if you’re interested!

almond rock textile printing leeds art college

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Tips for working with Slippery Fabrics!

If you’ve stuck around here long enough, you’ll have noticed I have a real affection for slinky fabrics.

With the completion of my Satin pyjamas I thought it was about time I share some of my personal survival tactics with Satin.

BUT most of these also apply to Silks, Viscose, Chiffon, Crepe or Georgette.

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1. Storage
I’ve always heard it’s best to store Satin rolled up to avoid getting creases that need to be ironed out later. I’ve stored it both rolled up and loosely folded and I have to say I didn’t have much problem either way. That being said, best not to put a ton of Corduroy and Denim on top of your Satin if you’re not sewing it up straight away.

2. Can’t stand the heat!
Satin has a special kind of weave that creates a glossy right-side to the fabric and a dull wrong-side. This lustre can be damaged by the high heat and steam of an iron or even accidentally picking an overaggressive spin-cycle on your washing machine.

Wash at 30 degrees and turn your iron to its coolest setting. Always press on the wrong side of the fabric or if you must press the right side then use a pressing cloth. The weight of your iron, more than the heat will help you achieve neatly pressed edges.

3. Lay it down.

Don’t be fooled, slippery fabric wants to escape your cutting table as soon as your back is turned! So unless you can fit all the fabric on the table without gravity coming into play I’d suggest cutting out on the floor (not the carpet). Basting will also be your new best friend – pin or stitch the folded fabric together to increase stability.

Best to also clear a good space around your machine, as again, you’ll be sewing along and suddenly your fabric will fling itself off the table like it has decided to end it all!

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4. Nap.
It’s not as obvious as the pile of velvet but there is a subtly different sheen when you view Satin one way rather than the other. Remember to lay all your pieces out in one direction even if your print is multi-directional… if you care about things like that.

5. To the point
First off, I hope you don’t have a tin full of dented blunt pins. That’s going to end in disaster.

Use the finest machine needle you can get hold of. Nice and sharp. I always use polyester thread. Use a small stitch length and try not to rip out stitches.

If you need to unpick, hey it happens, break the threads at regular intervals and then carefully unpick the shorter lengths to save trauma to the fabric.

6. Grain
I’m going to say the words people aren’t supposed to say. Deep breath… don’t beat yourself up about the grain. HEY I didn’t say ignore it completely! If you end up slightly off-grain because of the slippery nature of the fabric, you’ll be okay.

I generally find drapey fabrics far more forgiving in this regard and they very rarely warp over time. A significant amount of ready to wear clothing is produced off-grain and it’s never done us that much harm. But it’s not like it takes long to do so make the effort to line things up as best as you can.

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7. Finishing
Before you end up in a sea of Satin-fluff you might want to think about how to finish your seams. I definitely recommend French seams. I used them for 90% of the pyjamas except for the crotch seam on the pj bottoms and around the armholes in the pj top; there I used my serger to neaten things off.

French seams are so good because they’re secure, look pretty awesome and are really easy to sew when you’ve thought through the logistics! You can even use them on curved seams, even though I didn’t as I was honed in on the finish line – aka lazy. I did take the time to encase the exposed edge of my shirt facing with Satin bias binding as I was feeling classy for about 5 mins. .

Other options still apply — zig zag the raw edges, use pinking shears or bias/seam binding, or maybe you’ve prefer to fold under and top stitch your seam allowances out of sight.

Final thoughts

  • You can use a gelatin bath or similar on your fabric to give it temporary body – this washes out easily enough but I don’t like how slimy it makes the fabric and my machine bed.
  • If you want more tips for silk check out Jen’s awesome tutorial which covers helpful cutting techniques using paper. This is a very common method for a good reason.
  • Familiar with the tissue paper technique? This is for sewing (rather than cutting) and I’ve found it very handy in the past.
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Me-Made-May 13 – week 2: its all about the polka dots baby!!

We’re in week two and it’s time for my polka dot challenge!

I managed six days of me-made dots this week. It would have been seven if I’d conquered my half done Burda dress. Sigh….

Let’s check out the dots!!

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Self-drafted Elsie knock off dress worn for a stroll around the canal on Bank Hol Monday.

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Wearable Mathilde muslin (though I’m pretty sure the yoke stitches are going to snap soon because it’s too tight).

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Prima Tea Dress; never blogged. It has very flattering under-bust gathering and a gored skirt. But I ran out of fabric for the sleeves and it looks silly without them so I always wear a cardigan!

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Cowering from the rain in one of my earliest makes; self-drafted chiffon top with peter pan collar. I wear this all the time. Its going to fall apart soon.

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My new morse code crepe Sorbetto (minus the pleat) with contrast bias binding. Not really digging this boxy style but it got some compliments so may keep wearing it.

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Finally a lovely satin nl 6808. The fabric is from the Birmingham Meet Up so wearing this reminds me of that day. It’s super comfy and flattering and much loved.

And that is it for week 2! I’m already worried about week four but we’ll see how it goes.

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Little Black Jacket part 3 – day 1

This is part 3 of my mini series on the Chanel jacket course I attended in March.

See here for part 1 about inspiration and here for part 2 on materials!

Today I’m sharing my progress from day 1 of the course.

I packed up my machine, pattern, fabric, notions and a travel sewing kit and set off to Roundhay!

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Gillian the course instructor advised making a toile with at least one sleeve set in and bringing it along for discussion on the first day.

I traced all my pieces rather than cutting as I was sure I’d need to apply some “creative” sizing.

I traced a size 12 at the neck/shoulder/armhole/bust and graded out to a size 14 waist and 16 hip.

What I ended up with was pretty good I think. The shoulder length/armhole needed some adjustment but the fit across the bust waist and hips felt good. For a non-fastening jacket the fronts meet and it doesn’t gape open too much.
Overall I felt it could have been snugger and Gillian agreed. She also helped me remove 3cm length from the sleeve.

She advised that although the toile is an excellent indicator of fit it’s often better to fit the jackets again mid-construction because of the wool behaving differently to calico.

Down to business. First up we cut out fabric and lining pieces, remembering to take into consideration nap, pattern matching and in my case the one way shine of satin. I didn’t use interfacing in the end as my wool had enough stability.
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The construction was not as expected. Instead of constructing the outer shell and lining separately and the attaching the two, the corresponding shell and lining pieces were basted together and machine quilted.

This took the majority of the day. We chatted as we went and I made the most of the tips that were shared ready for when I make my second jacket. Here’s a few things I took note of:

  • For a truly expensive looking jacket it’s not enough to pattern-match your fabric in the seams and the sleeves, you should also be matching the pockets.
  • An inch of seam allowance helps you be safer rather than sorry with expensive fabric.
  • Don’t overpress your fabric… in fact barely touch it! Wool is most likely to show marks where you’ve squashed it.
  • It’s not worth overlocking your pieces even if they’re fraying like no-one’s business, as you’re just creating bulk at the seams and wool is plenty bulky enough! Just pink the edges if you need to do something.

Sorry it’s taken so long to post this. I’ve just started a new job and also Mr AR has been unwell. More excitement drafted and ready to post in Part 4 about day 2 of my class.

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