Tag Archive | renfrew top

The John Lewis leopardprint dress.

Happy New Year everyone,

Back to blogging the stuff I made before Christmas but did not get round to posting about – actually for some reason I went completely nuts with the sewing in December and made three things so there’s a good reason I didn’t blog everything in time. I am having a massive break from sewing at the moment as Jon had 2 weeks off work, then we were dealing with the house move – it’s fallen through, I’m a bit sad but the amount we were being mucked around it’s totally for the best. And now Jon has come down with a cold so he’s been at home for most of the week and today is his first day back at work, so I’m using it to catch up on admin jobs and hopefully will be back to the actual sewing next week.

Anyway, back to the dress….so the idea for this particular dress came from two chance happenings coming together simultaneously.

The first is that I was down the fabric stall on Lewisham market looking for a specific shopping list for some long term projects, and while I was there Maggie, the lady who owns the stall, tipped out a new bag of fabric. – She sells deadstock and samples from some very well known high street stores and independent designers – which is how I get such gorgeous stuff off her- and anyway, some of the stock comes as large bags of random from the high street clothes companies workrooms. So this particular bag there wasn’t actually very much of interest in it, it was mostly very small pieces, apart from a 4m length of the most beautiful leopard print jersey. So I had it off her pretty much before it even hit the stall.

Then I got an email advert from John Lewis with a really nice but very simple polo neck leopard print jersey dress by Ghost selling for like £95!!!! I took one look, sniggered and knew immediately that I could make my own version with pattern pieces I already had in my stash and the £12 of fabric I’d just picked up off lewisham market!

So of course because it’s my version it has a cowl neck rather than a polo neck and it has 3/4 length sleeves rather than full length ones, but for £12 I’m rather proud of it.

The pattern I used was a mashup of the Sewaholic Renfrew Top and the Colette Patterns Moneta dress . I’d love to say it was my idea but I’ve seen several people do it on Instagram so I just ripped off the idea from there.

I’ve made literally dozens of the Renfrew top over the years so it’s a pattern I’m very comfortable with, I only made one Moneta dress in the past and it was a complete utter disaster , I used a crappy cheap jersey, the neckline stretched out of all recognition and I didn’t get on well with the weird elastic gathering method of constructing the skirt. But that was two and a half years ago, my sewing has massively improved since then, I was using a decent quality jersey this time and I totally ignored the instructions for the gathered elastic, gathered the skirt using two rows of long machine stitch (ie my usual way) and attached the elastic to the bottom of the bodice instead.

& I think it’s worked wonderfully. My one remaining gripe with the Moneta is the skirt is not as full on the plus sized versions as it appears to be for thinner girls. But I love the fact it has pockets – a sad omission on most women’s ready to wear dresses- and I think what I’ve ended up with really suits me. I now have plans for two more in different jerseys I have in my stash.

So onto the pictures….

We took these on the balcony of Jon’s brother’s block of flats when we went over for an early Christmas celebration.

I’m particularly pleased by the way the gradient stripe lines up between the bodice and the skirt, because it was completely unintentional and it didn’t even occur to me to try pattern matching, so I’m really glad it matched itself!

It pretty much hasn’t been out of the wash since it got made. I’ve now set up an entire Pinterest board to stalk top end highstreet dresses, as clearly this is an inspiration method I completely need to be trying again.

It looks better on me!

I freely admit I’m totally awful at blogging regularly, but it’s coming up to the end of the year and I’d quite like to have blogged everything I’ve made by then – I’m only a couple behind! I’m also hoping if I blog this it’ll get me excited enough about it again to make a replacement.

You see this particular make was almost a complete cock-up.

So pattern Sewaholic Renfrew top made by me on at least 10 previous occasions and something I could possibly make in my sleep. So you’d think I wouldn’t have any issues with it.

Jersey from Stoff & Stil which I’ve never shopped from before, & the jersey came and washed up ok and I didn’t notice any problems.

Except it has absolutely zero stretch. & I totally failed to notice before I made the top.

So here it is on the hanger, looking lovely just off the machine….

And here it is on me two days later….

As you can see it’s a bit on the small side – not unwearably so, but it was not the comfiest thing to get into.

So I asked what to do on Instagram, all the seams were overlocked so there was no way of letting it out. & it was suggested that if the fabric was still available to just buy some more and make another one.

So I bought some more fabric and was procrastinating when my mother came round to visit. She admired the fabric so I showed her the offending top and was bemoaning what had happened when next thing I know it’s going home with her!

And yes I have to admit it looks better on her. Mum is about 2 dress sizes smaller than me & about 3 inches shorter.

I didn’t think it was her style but she’s worn it pretty much constantly since.

So now I have to make another one. I’m hoping that writing this post now and looking at pictures of how awesome the idea was will inspire me to make another (slightly larger) version.

I’m the top size of the pattern so I’m a little nervous about cocking it up, as I’m going to be winging it a bit with how much extra I add. So I’ve been putting it off partly through nerves and partly because I don’t want to make the same thing twice.

But it has to be done, & it’s a lovely sunny day to do some cutting out.

Shine like a star

So still on catchup with blogging the stuff I’ve been sewing this summer. Bizarrely moving house with the threat of having to put my sewing machine away every week or so to make it look tidy and I’ve actually been sewing as much as I normally sew.

It’s all the same patterns though!

On which note, introducing my latest incarnation of the Sewaholic Renfrew top . Again with added sleeves from McCalls M7542.

I wore it for a day out in Greenwich and we took loads of pictures round the Queens House and Royal Naval College (site of filming for Les Miserables, Thor 2 and Poldark – & pretty much everything that needs an unspoilt Georgian backdrop)

Lots of flouncy gestures to show off flouncy sleeves.

Trousers are shop bought from Simply Be. I am actually struggling to know what to do with this top. It’s harder to co-ordinate than I thought it was going to be. It’s also white so I am super paranoid about wearing it unless I know I’m going to be eating and drinking extremely bland coloured refreshments. I’m going to have to work on it.

Upclose of the fabric and trim.

It is a really good quality jersey from Maggies stall on Lewisham market (where 75% of my fabric comes from)

Ultimately I should probably stop worrying about wearing it. If I stain it I can always stick it in a dye bath. I reckon it’d look good a nice rich burgundy!

winter tops, charity shops and stuff not fitting

So once again its been a couple of weeks.

Anyway.I’ve been quite lazy, but I have actually made stuff….

First up another Renfrew Top I made a few weeks ago, and forgot to post about…it is made with jersey from Ditto Fabrics in Brighton, and is lovely and warm and pretty much spot on in terms of technique, and it is a bit of a weird one for me to wear clothes that look so normal, but the reason I’ve made millions of these this year is that all I wear all winter is layers involving long sleeved tops, so black does get a bit boring at times.

autumn flowers top

 

Bottom of the photo cut off as Jon took it with my mobile and didn’t move the case. Taken in Victoria Park, East London.

 

Then I made another Renfrew out of some fabric I got for £2 a meter off my favourite market stall. As it had a border print I aligned the top automatically with the border at the bottom, cuz any other way would look bloody weird frankly. I then proceeded to sew it up in my standard size, and then wondered why the hell it was a bit too small. Cuz the stretchy grain of the fabric is running up and down, not across isn’t it! I have got to say, that is something I never thought to check for, but yeah, that would be a problem with border printed jersey coming to think about it!

gothic border renfrew

 

So thats why I’ve photographed it lying on the bed.  It does fit, it looks nice under things and ok with skirts that sit on my natural waist, but it does have a tendancy to ride up, and I certainly couldn’t put it over a base layer, which is what I’ve mostly been wearing given the freezing weather, so I couldn’t get a good photo of it on.

Also stuff I have done..today on the way to the supermarket I popped in at one of the local charity shops and found these little beauties….

polaroid claudius

 

I’ve been after a dvd copy of I Claudius for ages, we recently disposed of our video copy, and I’ve wanted a polaroid camera for a while too. My little brother has one so I am going to find out from him where you get the bits from (hopefully), and if it doesn’t work, the camera was £2 the dvd £3 so who cares! 🙂

I have also taken custody of this gorgeous dress.

white gatsby dress

white flapper dress

 

 

It is an ivory lace flapper dress, made by Berkertex, so 80’s pretending to be 20’s, and it is gorgeous! It has a small hole in the lace on the skirt, but apart from that seems in good nick. Only drawback is it is a size 14, and having tried to get it on, probably a small 14 at that, so completely doesn’t fit. So now I have to decide whether to put it in the drawer I reserve for stuff that doesn’t fit, or whether to dispose of it! Grr. It was very cheap though so it doesn’t matter that much.

I am also in the middle of a bit more major sewing project so I’d better head back to that!

Stuff I have been doing!

I’ve been really super busy with the whole sewing thing lately….well ok, a bit with the sewing…quite a bit with shopping, but its all sewing stuff so it counts!

Firstly…the top I’ve made….

It is the v–necked version of the Renfrew Top from Sewaholic…Took the body in by a dress size and used 3/4 length sleeves on this one, which looks a lot better.

Slightly messed up the v-neck, the tension of the neck band either side of the v ended up being different, and I slightly, slightly missed the centre of the v with the centre seam of the top band. Fixed the slightly wonky centre by whacking a bow over the top, but there isn’t a lot I can do in this round about the tension…next time I will measure a bit more carefully, tack the centre in place before I sew it and follow some advice I saw on a blog to cut an inch off the neck band before I sew it in order to stretch it all out as I sew it in place , so it all has high tension and hopefully doesn’t end up uneven, and it looks tidier when its finished.

It is still totally wearable though, so that is ok! 🙂

I think it looks ok anyway. 🙂

After that I decided I wanted to keep sewing a load of jersey tops as they are great for this kind of transitional weather and I’m not entirely sure what I’m doing with my sunmmer sewing yet. However I hit the massive barrier that I’d run out of jersey, and  all the stuff I’ve seen online that I like was about £20 meter.

So I decided to go on a couple of reconnaissance missions up Berwick Street and Goldhawke Road to see what is actually available in the shops and for what prices as I have never really done jersey before so had no clue.

Started with Berwick Street, as I had a load of haberdashery stuff to buy and it was convenient. Total no goer on the jersey front. Very few shops stocked it, those that did were like £30 a meter for plain stuff and I couldn’t really see that that was value for money.

Just as I was beginning to be slightly relieved that Berwick Street was a total waste of space as far as being too expensive and not really my kind of thing went, I went into Biddle Sawyer silk, which is totally the last shop before you get to the end of the fabric bit and end up in the remnants of what used to be the red light district.

Oops. First thing I spotted was this….

.

in the bargain bin for £10 a meter.it is pure silk, and on closer inspection has little art deco naked ladies all over it! 🙂

I have bought 4 meters of it, and hope to use it to line a cape or a coat at some point in the future when I get hold of some cheapish coating I like.

Then I turned round and on the table saw multiple shiny metallic shades of what I assumed was some kind of lamé, but on closer inspection was actually leather!! It was rather expensive, totally bad for the environment, but one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen.

So I went home and talked it over with Jon and thought about it..and ended up dreaming about it..and so I am now the proud owner of a sparkly champing pink cowhide …

it looks gold in that picture, but it is actually pinker. I have decided I am going to make a simple A-line or straight skirt out out it, as it is sooo trashy looking anyway I need to keep it classy. I am going to wait a while to make it though, as I am chronically loosing weight at the moment and the smaller I am the more skirt I can make from the cowhide. 🙂 Also I haven’t selected a pattern yet, and whatever I get I want to mock up in denim first to make sure it is totally perfect before attacking something that expensive! (I also could do with a denim skirt.)

Then yesterday I went down Goldehawke  Road with a shopping list of stuff I needed….black denim, lavender lining, black t-shirt jersey and any patterned jersey I could get my hands on…

And remarkably got it all, for far less than I had anticipated…..

purple/lavender taffeta (its a lot less pink in real life), black denim and black t-shirt fabric

patterned jersey – the range at Goldehawke Road was pretty damn awful as well, however this one shop had these in, for what ended up being £3 a meter, which will do nicely, and there was a shop which has ultra fashionable nautical stuff for £8 a meter, which I didn’t like enough to pay that much for.

Think Goldehawke Road is mainly best for basics actually and I’ll buy anything patterned off the internet in future 😦 or from Ditto in Brighton, they have some nice looking stuff at the moment, but experience tells me to look at their stuff in real life first, and we are going to Brighton for two nights next month, so I will look properly then. 🙂

Now I bought all this, I am totally not going to get the chance to use it for the next 5 weeks. Jon is on Sabatical for a month, and we are going away for two and a half weeks to various places, and even when we are at home I doubt I will get anything done as our flat is super tiny and its very difficult for me to sew without taking over the entire living room/kitchen which really won’t be possible when Jon is home.

I will also be sharing this computer for the duration, so doubt I’ll be blogging much.

Looking forwards to it so much though! 🙂

t-shirts and posters

After several months being slightly under the weather and rearranging my fabric collection in increasingly elaborate ways…..I finally perked up and have actually sewn something. 🙂

Behold my attempt at the Renfrew Top by Sewaholic..an independent pattern designer.

I’ve seen a lot of pictures of these on the internet and I hadn’t seen a bad/massively unflattering one, so I was hoping it would work out alright. And for a wearable muslin I don’t think its that bad. the fabric was from Rolls and Rems in Lewisham, which is my local fabric store, and I use it fairly often for basics and emergencies, so I shouldn’t slag it off too much…but the quality is apauling, as is all the jersey they have in at the moment. For £4 a meter I’m not that impressed. I mean I know really good quality jersey can be ruinously expensive, but when a fabric shop is selling something that is basically primark quality for a price where the finished garment will cost as much as/more than it would cost at primark…one does wonder whom the target market is exactly. Hence it is clingy and stiff and see-through, so you can see the top of my trousers through it…which is not a great look.

However I will probably wear it again, as its a fairly attractive print (little black bows – if you can’t see from the photo) and I constructed it, so it should last a while longer than something actually from primark.

As far as the instructions and the fit goes, it was fairly straightforward, though I did have to look up how to sew with jersey on the internet first (was my first attempt). I will take it down a size on the main body for my next go, as its actually a bit loose (that makes me so happy 🙂  ). The only thing I’ve seriously had to alter is the bottom of the sleeves. I have quite small wrists anyway, but I had to take the cuffs and the sleeve bottoms in massively to fit/look normal . The lady who designs the patterns and all the people doing early attempts of this one I saw are all a lot thinner than me. When one puts on loads of weight, unless one gets massive water retention, your ankles and wrists do grow a bit, but at nowhere near the rate the rest of you does. Thus when scaling up a pattern from a (Uk) 10 or so to a (uk) 18 or so, although you need to scale up the wrists a bit, you don’t need to do it by as much as you do the tops of the arms. Otherwise it gets a bit 1970’s looking. 😦

But it was easy (albeit a bit untidy) to fix on this one, and will be easy to fix properly on the next one…which is using proper expensive jersey (eek!) and is already cut out!

In other creative stuff I’ve been doing this week… I can’t remember whether I mentioned last time, but I sent one of those pictures I made last time as a test print.

The resolution was workable with, so the printing company were obviously talking rubbish! However I was a bit annoyed because what was referred to on the website as a ‘poster’ was actually a giant photo..on thick glossy photo paper. I know its not much of a distinction but I was a bit pissed off, cuz I wanted them to look like cool posters I’d picked up somewhere, not artworks of some kind, which is what photo paper made them seem.

I asked around for a few days and did some research on the internet, but I couldn’t find anybody who would print 6 actual posters on poster paper as one offs, not a large print run, for anything approaching a realistic price.

Whist I was procrastinating, the company I used in the first place for the test print, sent me an email with a one day only sale code, which got you 50% off for any prints you had done that day.

So I bit the bullet and went for it with them. I’m still not too happy about the excessively shiny (when I took the photo I couldn’t stop the end one having a massive reflection mark on it 😦 ).. but I don’t think it looks too bad…

Only 4 of them worked well enough as that size image for me to be happy putting them up, but at the price I ended up paying for them, having two rejects doesn’t matter at all really.

They’ve properly brightened up the bedroom, 🙂 though I might shop around for a better printing company before I attempt any more.