Simplicity K1418 – Inspired by Project Runway – Polkadot 50’s Dress


In just under a month, one of my closest friends is getting married. Since she set the date, 6 months ago, I have planned to make the dress to wear to her wedding… I have the design in my head. I just need to plan the pattern out properly onto paper (it’ll be a mix of Treid&Tested and self-drafted) and order the fabrics and trims. I have a whole month, it’ll be fine!

Despite the planning of the above in detail, it was a completely different affair for her Hen Do! In my defence, although the date was booked in, the details and theme’s for the day were quite last minute. The day theme was 50’s and I had nothing in my wardrobe that I thought would be suitable. What worked against me was the plan to not make something and to buy something RTW that worked both in the theme and also would fit in with my wardrobe.

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AND THEN I rooted through my patterns to see if there was something there that would work, and I found this pattern! It came free with Sew Magazine months ago and I’d forgotten about it. The off-the-shoulder look felt very 50’s-esque with the full pleated skirt. The seed was planted, but I wasn’t 100% sure whether I’d have the time to make the dress. That was until I decided to pop to the local haberdashery for some notions for a different project and left 20mins later with fabric and zip in hand! The seed was sown and the dress was to be sewn!

I made a quick toile of the bodice in size 12, as my measurements placed me between sizes 12 and 14 and I was closer to the finished measurement of the 12. I hedged my bets and it paid off. I was ready to cut out the actual fabric.

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The fabric is a heavyweight cotton in navy with tiny white polkadots, which I chose so that it would hold the shape of the pleated skirt. It was a dream to cut and sew. The polkadots make it really easy to line up the grain of the pattern, so cutting was easy and quick. This is always my least favourite part of a project, sometimes it drags on and on and I don’t really have the space in the flat to lay it all out, especially when the floor of the flat is the kitties’ territory, so it’s nice when it’s made easier and is relatively painless. (Where possible, I like to use the large tables at work for cutting out, however time was not on my side and it was the long Easter weekend I started this dress and the office was closed). As soon as I’d cut out my fabric, I cut out the interfacing and prepared the pieces this needed attaching to. Everything was then folded neatly and I went to bed.

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With everything on track for the dress to made in good time, I then put off sewing it for 2 days – I think life just got in the way (working late, gym etc). This left me 2 days to make the dress around my full-time job, so essentially 2 evenings. While this isn’t a need-to-know fact, I think it is relevant to show how quickly and easily this dress came together.

I constructed the bodice in one evening after work using industrial machines – probably in around 2 and a half hours. The instructions for the main bodice and straps were straight forward, and obviously the basic toile helped as I followed the same processes, except for the toile I did not add in the elasticated straps, which are hidden under off-the-shoulder sleeves. Having worn the dress, I am still not 100% sure how effective these were but I didn’t want to risk not adding them in.

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The neckline and armholes had a full facing and this was certainly the fiddliest part of the garment to sew. This is mainly because of the variations in the thickness of the fabrics as you sew around the armhole and sleeves where you will have 2 layers of fabric in some places, 4 layers in another and then 6 layers of fabric plus elastic when you get to the elasticated straps. This then becomes 4 and then 2 layers very quickly as you reach the neckline edge and repeat at the other other end of neckline for the armhole on the other side of the body. I knew, in order to get a clean finish and to around catching the straps into the seam, I would need to take the sewing of this area more slowly. Also, I was already having to do this twice for the front and back, I couldn’t bear the though of unpicking parts or all of it to re-do it. Luckily, taking my time and practicing a little bit of patience paid off and I’m really happy with the finish of the neckline.

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Following this, the skirt came together very quickly in approximately an hour and a half, the next evening after work. I usually find pleats to be fiddly at times but I just made sure I pinned each pleat accurately and machine-basted the pleats in place in one go, ensuring they were consistent to each other. The instructions for the skirt construction, attaching it to the bodice and inserting the zip were very straightforward, nothing out of the ordinary. Once I’d hemmed the dress, I did one final fitting before I met with a friend for some after-work drinks where I could relax and look forward to the festivities the next day!

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All-in-all, for a last minute project, I am very happy with this make, it had some great feedback at the hen-do. Although, I do wish I’d made it with a circle skirt so that I could swish it around at the dance class we attended! Another regret was not buying the concealed zip as suggested on the pattern envelope (I really need to pay more attention in future or take a photo to review when in the store!).

I think, for me personally, I will shorten the skirt and replace the zip to be concealed and inserted much more neatly, however for many sewists out there, I think this pattern will be pretty much near perfect for you straight out of the packet! There are loads of design variations in this pattern, and I’m pretty sure I’ll be making more of them in the future.

Have you tried any of Simplicity’s inspired by Project Runway patterns? What did you think?


 

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#FashRev2016


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As you may have seen in the news and/or on Instagram and Twitter, it is the 3rd anniversary tomorrow of when the Rana Plaza Complex in Dhaka, Bangladesh, collapsed, killing 1,134 and injuring over 2,500 more. This unfortunate incident has sparked a revolution in the Fashion World, as it turned out this factory was producing garments for various clothing retailers, well known for their fast fashion. The revolution aims to raise awareness of factory conditions around the world, and the cost some people have to pay to make the garments you see in the shops today. They also encourage you to think about the afterlife of a garment, once you’re bored of it or haven’t worn it for 12months or don’t even really like it that much.

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The difficulty with the fashion industry these days, is that we have created a world where many people forget the longevity of a garment, and often discard something with life left in it, to replace it with something new – this is something that was unheard of half a century ago! With many retailers now promoting their low prices, I can see how some people find it easy to hoard or throw away clothes and then buy or replace them with a new item of clothing with very little thought!

It is encouraged within the fashion industry, that factories are monitored and audited to show compliance to Social, Ethical and Technical regulations to ensure there are fair and safe working practices for all employees and that local laws are followed where applicable. Unfortunately, this is not always the case and the working conditions for hundreds and thousands of men and women can often go unseen. In order to keep up with fashion, these conditions are almost ignored in order to get new products to market for a low cost, regardless of the retail price you and I will pay for it.

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That is not to say that ALL factories around the world are like this, there are some retailers which will not work with a factory without an acceptable audit in place. The conditions of many factories around the world will go above and beyond what is expected of them.

However, seeing as the majority of the UK’s clothing production is made on the other side of the world, I guess for most consumers, it’s almost a case of “out of sight, out of mind”. The Fashion Revolution is asking consumers for people to think about and ask the question:

Who Made My Clothes?!

Some people call for clothing manufacturing to be brought back to the UK, Europe and the US because our local laws are more strict and more fair than those on the other side of the world in India and China. But, I think it is also important to note, that the fashion industry does create many jobs in countries where regular and consistent work is not always available. The fashion industry helps to bring wealth to these countries, if we take away the manufacturing of clothing to move it to somewhere more local, it could inhibit the country’s financial growth.

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Another factor to take into consideration within the manufacturing process is all of the pre-production. Questions such as “how are the fabrics made?”, “what chemicals are used in the fabric dyes and how are these disposed off after the dyeing process takes place?” and “how ethical is this cotton fabric?” will often be met with unknown answers… I believe there is less monitoring of the pre-production processes than the factories themselves!! Fast fashion promotes new clothes for new seasons and trends. This creates two problems:

  1. More raw materials being generated and a faster rate than previous years, decades and centuries, and it is likely the pace will continue to quicken each year. The supply must meet the demand, which as this continues to grow, corners will be being cut having devastating consequences on people’s jobs, lives as well as the environment. Unless, of course, consumers change their fashion habits.
  2. It will also lead to more disposal of clothing, which is still in a good or usable condition, a lot of which will go to landfill. Clothing does not disintegrate or break down when it is disposed of in this way, and it’s such a waste when we now have the resources to recycle raw materials, or recycle the garment as a whole by donating to charity or amend refashion a garment to extend its lifetime.

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As I have suggested above, the whole point of this Fashion Revolution is to raise awareness, not only of the working conditions, practices and consequences of the current fashion market, but also to show ways in which we can slow fashion down! It will always be difficult to know exactly what conditions your ready-to-wear garments were made in but here’s some of the things I think we can do to help extend the life of a garment:

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  • Think about why you need/want something new and how long you’ll be using it for. Personally, I don’t follow trends, I prefer to buy something which suits me, fits well and will, hopefully, last a long time. I’m not perfect, I will sometimes purchase something because it’s a good bargain, knowing it might not last me more than 6 months, but often I will get the most wear of it during that time. I try not to buy things on a whim and I try not to buy something with only one use in mind, for example “I’ll buy this to go on Saturday night and never wear it again!”. Again, I’m not perfect, I did it whilst I was at university but these items would often get donated to charity shops afterwards.

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  • Review your wardrobe regularly and consider the life of the garment. My wardrobe isn’t huge (not the actual wardrobe, that’s quite big, but the amount of clothes I own), because I try to review what I have in there regularly so that I’m not holding onto clothing that I will probably never wear again. This is natural, you mature and your tastes change as you get old and what you wore when you were 21 is not necessarily what you want to wear 5 years later, but when you purchase clothing with longevity in mind, you will come face-to-face with these decisions.

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  • Consider the different ways you can extend the life of a garment. Most garments I no longer want/need in my wardrobe will be donated to charity as long as there is no major damage, because there is someone out there who will get use from it (hopefully for a long time too!). Where possible I will add garments to my refashion pile, or if I’m really not feeling it, I’ll recycle the garment where possible, so that the materials/trims can be broken down and reused again. There are obvious exceptions like underwear, but I feel like I’m reducing my fashion footprint onto the world as much as I can at the moment.

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  • Spread the word. I think my favourite part of the Fashion Revolution is that everyone is fighting for the same goal. My Instagram feed has been filled with people sharing their thoughts on this critical issue, and the things they do and have done to extend the life of a garment! For the people who sew garments, there is an appreciation to those who make garments day-in-day-out for a living as they understand just how much work goes into a garment. Sharing this appreciation, and showing those who don’t sew garments the time and effort which goes into a garment, will hopefully help them to appreciate the clothes they wear every day.

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With this in mind, I am determined to use up my fabric scraps, refashion off-cuts and my stash more throughout the year, instead of continuously adding to each of the above piles! And I’ll be sharing my ways to do this with you too!

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For more information, check out http://fashionrevolution.org/ , the above images were downloaded from this website and its Pinterest page!

What has the Fashion Revolution inspired you to do?

 

Stash Busting – Wonder Woman Pyjamas 


This year, as much as I want to sew more, I also want to save more money. I’m sure many of you will agree, these often don’t go hand-in-hand.

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I do not have a huge fabric stash, and I only have a small collection of patterns that I’ve bought / acquired over the last year or so, but after having a little sort out I have decided there are probably a few things I could put together without spending a whole lot of dosh!
One of the little ideas formed was what I like to call Wonder Woman PJ’s! I bought these fabrics years ago to make a Wonder Woman Fancy Dress outfit but, for reasons I won’t go into, it just wasn’t meant to be! The lengths of these fabrics weren’t particularly long, I think I had about a metre of each. So, as I flicked through my pattern stash, I decided PJ’s would be an appropriate style to fit into this theme and would work best with the fabric lengths!!

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The pattern I used was a freebie with Simply Sewing magazine, it’s a simple Pyjama pattern by The Makery. The pattern consists of a strappy pyjama top with a gathered bust and an elasticated back and some super simple shorts with a tie waist.

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In order to save pennies (and in a bid to not leave the house to buy ribbon), I made my PJ shorts with an elasticated waist and mock ribbon ties at the front. I also decided to make my own straps instead of using a ribbon to match the one used on the shorts.

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Both pieces are made in a lightweight cotton, which was really easy to work with.

They didn’t take particularly long to sew either, I did each piece in their own sitting, leaving the fella to watch a film and play on the Xbox at the other end of the room. I do want to add a Wonder Woman themed emblem onto the front but haven’t quite got round to it yet!

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This was one of the first projects where I have properly used the overlocker the fella bought me for my birthday and Christmas present last year. I absolutely love it, even just for its basic stitch!! I can’t wait to try out more of its features!!

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So with this and my sewing machine cover, I’ve started clearing a small amount of space in my fabric shelves and using up good fabric without spending a penny!! What sorts of things do you do to use up short lengths of fabric in your stash?