Wow! Hi there! It's been a while, is there anyone out there still reading? Don't you hate the culture of "busy"? I know I do, but you know what, I have been really flipping busy! I started a new job last April as a Textile Technician at my local sixth form college. Only two days a week, but add that to my work at Ministry of Craft and for Sew Now magazine, plus the volunteer work I do for LLLGB and my WI sewing group......hmmm you get the picture?
I am determined to manage my time better this year, and set realistic goals.I'm keeping a bullet journal ( not a pretty one, or I'd spend all my time doing the pretty and not the stuff! ), plus I have again bought the fabulous Makers Yearbook which I hope will keep me on track.
I have of course sewn for myself in little pockets of time, plus a couple of quilty gifts for special people....though I am so not a quilter!!
This year though I'm going for quality over quantity; I'm not promising I wont run something up quick when the impulse takes me, but I feel I need a good quality basic wardrobe, and for me that is classic fit and flare styles, and because I have a passion for good underpinnings, and can NEVER find a decent underslip that fits my boobs, I'm adding those to my to do list too!
So, if anyone is still out there, let me know in the comments what your sewing (or otherwise) plans are for 2018.
It is at this time of year, when I can fling open the doors to my shed that I probably love it most. In the winter I love it because it is cosy, but the summer gives it a whole different feeling. I think it's about 3 years now since I took over the garden shed and made it mine. I'm so very glad I did too. Our house has 7 people in it and the shed is my quiet little sanctuary.
Sadly though, I am outgrowing it. I have a studio space in a nearby mill which I am very lucky to share, but more and more I am hankering after a larger space in the garden. I've been looking online and making plans. I have measured up and I think I can get something decently sized which means I could have all of my sewing and art equipment in one place, instead of spread between the house,studio and shed. So, I'm trying to save up...it might take me a while! Dream with me a little though.......
I have been casually searching since sometime last year for the perfect pair of dungarees and the perfect pinafore. The dungarees are for another day, this week I have been concentrating on Pinafores! I was planning to draft my own pinafore, something vaguely 70's inspired and fitted at the waist, since that might suit my rather ample curves. Then I spotted the Freya dress pattern that came free with a copy of Simply Sewing, and it seemed to fit the brief well, yay! No need to draft my own pattern! I firstly made it up in some faux suede. I made the largest size, but sadly was a bit snug, though wearable.
A post shared by Jeanette Archer (@lazyseamstress) on Mar 4, 2017 at 6:14am PST
I made the next version (first photo above.) in a lovely 40's inspired print. This time I altered the bib to fit better over my bust and I skimped on the seam allowances, but I can't get it on! The faux suede has som stretch in it, which is why I can get that on, the floral one though...not a chance!
I abandoned that pattern, and decided I needed a quick make to cheer me up. I decided to copy a simple little dungaree dress I had bought in Primark last year for the princely sum of £5. And so, if you have been following me on Instagram ( @lazyseamstress ) you will have seen that so far this week I have made 3 pinafores from my copy of the original denim dress. I also am planning one more........
As a dressmaker, I know only too well that no matter how beautifully I sew a garment, if I wear it over unsupportive, unflattering, poorly fitting underwear it's just not going to show that garment off at it's best.
Vintage or reproduction vintage garments especially need appropriate underpinnings!
This is something I never tire of reminding my clients when I am teaching.
I teach a bodice fitting class at Ministry of Craft and I always stress there, the importance of a well fitting bra, and how certain styles of bra will affect various bodice designs....for example I know that if I fit a bodice over a sports bra, that bodice will certainly not work over a balconette style, on the same woman!
As a woman of ample boobage since the age of 13, I've certainly made some terrible mistakes over the years; like the time when aged about 14, I was at a friends house on a hot summers day and she suggested we sunbathe in the garden. I hadn't got a bikini so she loaned me one of hers. I put it on and walked through her kitchen to meet her in the garden where her mother caught sight of me and thrust a tea towel at me in a crude attempt to offer me some modesty! I was, until that moment quite blissfully unaware of my curves and the bikini top only just covered my nipples!
Over the years, since that incident and, I'm sorry to say, several others I have gained a reputation amongst many of my closest friends as someone who knows a thing or two about bra fitting, and have accompanied several friends on bra shopping sprees, where they are usually surprised that their back size is considerably smaller than they thought, and their cup size considerably bigger!
A good fitting bra is only the beginning; an essential beginning, but certainly for me, I can't sing the praises of shape wear enough! Six babies ( and honestly, too many biscuits!) have not been kind to my mid section! Now, I'm certainly not saying everyone with a bit of wobble in their tum should absolutely wear shape wear, seriously guys, wear what makes you comfortable...I'm all about the feeling good in your own skin, but that for me means shape wear, and I've tried them all, trust me!
I had a spell a few years ago of wearing steel boned corsets daily, and then I got gall stones, so my corsets got packed away....they still come out occasionally, just no longer daily.
I have tried latex sports corsets too, and they have their place, so long as you don't mind getting very sweaty!
My favourite everyday shape wear though is a "wear your own bra" type. These generally come in various strengths of support, and for everyday I have light support. The beauty of these is you can wear your own bra, and anyone who has a cup size over a D will understand this....please lingerie makers make pretty corselettes in bigger cup sizes!!!
They give a nice smooth line under any garment with a touch of tummy control. I even have a few that smooth out the dreaded back fat!
And, you can wear them under your most precious corsets to protect from sweat, but still be able to go to the loo, thanks to popper opening!! (Is that TMI?)
So, always wary of offering advice, I would say to anyone, but especially aspiring dressmakers, get the foundation right,( whatever that means for you) and your finished garments will be shown off to their very best.
Of course, there is always making your own.....that though is for another day!
Two years ago I signed up to do a City and Guilds Level 3 in Fashion at a local sixth form college. I already had an A level in Needlework and Dress from my school days, and of course many years experience, but I had only ever taught myself pattern cutting, (thank you Winifred Aldrich!) and wanted to expand my knowledge in that area. So, every Wednesday night for two years I pootled off to college, and I thoroughly enjoyed it! I loved having that time to do something 'just because'. I met some fabulous people, not least my lovely tutor Heather Lightfoot.
The course included modules on pattern cutting, dressmaking, tailoring and art work. I loved having a reason to keep sketchbooks again. I have sporadically kept sketchbooks over the years, but it was wonderful to have a reason to sit with all my art work out and spend time more seriously on my 'research'. Something I hadn't done since leaving art college in 1991!
My final collection was based on the work of Japanese artist Utamaro, and included six dresses, Obi belts and an evening coat. I was thrilled to be marked a 'distinction' for each module and therefore a distinction overall.
If you are reading this and have pondered the idea of going back to college to learn anything, but especially a dressmaking course or similar, then I urge you to do so. Sadly so many adult education classes have been cut from Local Authority budgets, including the very course I have just completed. Such a shame too, but if you find one, enrol, you'll love it!
Yeah, I know it's already 12th January! My children didn't finish school and college until 23rd December, which means they only went back to school and college on Monday...is it really only four days ago? Why am I so tired? Poor Eden had to go back to college on her birthday! She was less than impressed to say the least. I now have two adult children, since Eden turned 18 on Monday! It's a strange feeling. Christmas was quiet (well as quiet as it gets around here!), and I did a lot of cosying up on the sofa, a bit of crocheting, but not a lot of anything else, which felt good. In fact so good I'm finding it rather hard to get back into the normal routine. Grey January skies certainly don't help.
I've been working on updating my wardrobe with clothes that feel good lately. I designed this dress to wear to our WI Christmas party. The bodice is princess line, and the skirt is full circle with extra panels and box pleats at the hips. The fabric is a waxed cotton. The dress uses a full 6 metres of fabric, most of which is in the skirt! I am also wearing a full petticoat in these photos and a store bought bow belt. This feels fab on, really swishy and feminine. I love it! Of course as usual I want to tweak certain things.( but that's for another post)
I used the same pattern to make this dress. This time the bodice is lace underlined with black jersey for the main bodice, sleeves just lace and the skirt is made with some gorgeous vintage pinstripe suiting. Again worn over a petticoat and with a belt.
I put in an exposed zip this time to juzz it up a bit. I think this is the least successful of the two dresses, but it will be a good addition to my work wardrobe.
I'm trying very hard right now to stay body positive while writing this. The reason I need to update my wardrobe is quite simply that nothing much in my existing wardrobe fits me anymore. I could easily (too easily) sit here and write an entire blog post about every flaw I can see when looking at these photos, but I wont.
Happy New Year lovely readers. Don't forget to follow me on instagram
This time of year calls for cosy , and cosy for me is anything that feels like pyjamas, but looks enough like clothes to wear during the day! This dress is soooo comfy, it really feels like a nightdress, can be layered with various jumpers and cardigans, worn over jeans or leggings, or tights.
I used my Nell pattern again, but probably could've gone down a size, it is a little big.
Probably not the most flattering dress, but certainly the most cosy, and there are definately days when cosy wins over flattery.
I rarely buy sewing patterns these days, unless they are vintage finds. I prefer to draft my own designs. Last week though I aquired two new sewing patterns for me! I was smitten by Marilla Walker's Bennett Dress as soon as I saw it, and knowing Marilla's style, plus the need to stitch up something lovely in a hurry I thought I'd give it a go. I wasn't dissapointed, in fact I was really pleased with the result, and wore the resulting dress twice in one week! I used a lightweight poly cotton blend I'd bought in Abakhan. As always Marilla's pattern and instructions were faultless. I chose the printed pattern this time, and I love the cute hand printed envelope it came in . Trust me, packaging is hard to figure out when you are a small independant designer with an equally if not smaller budget for such things, and I'm quite envious that I didn't think of doing something as cute with my paper patterns! (Which are still on pause...best not talk about that right now! )
The second pattern I bought was the Dottie Angel Frock by Simplicity. I've always admired Dottie Angel's blog and her granny chic style, but honestly until I saw the pattern in my local Hobbycraft while buying other supplies, I hadn't had a burning desire to order it online and make it. You could say it was an impulse buy.
A photo posted by Jeanette Archer (@lazyseamstress) on May 27, 2016 at 4:08am PDT
I ran one up quickly to see what I would think. I used a vintage sheet and random bits of bias hanging around in my shed. Once finished, I was pretty pleased with the dress, on the hanger at least...but oh dear, trying it on was a whole other matter! The tucks and ties were in the wrong place for my bust, and I just hated it on me. I'm still a bit sick about it really, it's super cute, just not on me, so I'm sending it to someone else who it will no doubt look so much better on...and hoping she doesn't look too closely at my hasty stitching! Not to be defeated however, I set to making myself another. This time I used some left over lightweight cotton blend left over from a project I'd completed a few weeks ago for Sewing Made Simple magazine. I intended to put the tucks and ties in at the end once I could work out where I wanted them to be, but while trying it on to determine that, I decided actually I liked it without.
So, there you are, three dresses in a week, when really I should have been working on my final collection for college....oops!
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