Sunday, 28 April 2013

Refashioned Wedding Dress

This is my first refashioned wedding dress. I've blogged a little bit about it over on Three Cords Designs. I love giving new life to something that was once loved and cherished, and this once 1970's nylon lined dress now has a new lease of life as a vintage inspired 1950's style tea length dress.

Open for business...

I've finally gone and done it! I've opened my first Folksy and Etsy shops. I'm planning on selling a range of my art works and some unique refashioned items of clothing. Please pop over and take a look and spread the word. My shop is called Three Cords Design and I'll be starting a second blog soon to detail some of the work i'll be doing - look out for more details soon.
Follow the links above or via the buttons in my sidebar - I'd love your feedback.

Saturday, 27 April 2013

A waste of time

I spent today making up a blouse that i'll never wear. The fit is great, the style is ok - I drafted it myself, but the colour is just - EUGH!
I'm glad I made it as I now know that it will work, so I suppose it's a toile, but I was hoping it would be wearable. I know, however that I would never wear it, so I'm not going to finish it. I'm not even going to grace this post with a photograph as I can't bear to share it. I have no idea what I was thinking when I bought that fabric, but I won't make the same mistake again.  That is all!

Monday, 22 April 2013

Pizza Twists

A little foodie post today.
I didn't have any time for sewing this weekend as I spent Saturday tidying the garden after the high winds of last week and cooking snacks for the church bring and share meal yesterday.

I made pizza twists at the request of my youngest son. I usually make Marmite and cheese twists - which are yummy, but for a change we made a pizza version. These are easy to make the day before and kids love them. it's safe to say that the whole lot were gone in a matter of minutes!

Bread base
900g strong flour
2 teaspoons of dried yeast
2 teaspoons of sugar
2 teaspoons of salt
4 tablespoons of oil
600ml warm water

(pizza version)
Tomato puree
Grated cheese (I used a mix of cheddar and mozzarella)
Chopped up black olives
( I didn't measure these ingredients out, I just guessed)

Marmite version
1 tablespoon of Marmite mixed with 1 tablespoon of warm water
Grated Cheddar cheese.

  • Make up the bread dough - you can do this on the dough setting of a bread maker.
  • Dissolve the sugar and yeast in the warm water and allow to activate for 10 minutes.
  • Mix the yeast mixture with the rest of the bread ingredients and knead well (I leave my Kenwood mixer to do this).
  • Cover the dough and leave in a warm place until it has doubled in size.
  • Halve the dough and lightly knead. Roll each piece out on a lightly floured board until each piece is about 30 x 40 cm in size.
  • Now add the topping to one of the dough 'rectangles'.
  • If you're making the Marmite version spread the watered down Marmite evenly over the surface and cover with a medium layer of grated cheese.
  • If making the pizza version spread tomato puree over the rectangle, top with pepperoni (I cut my slices into 4 to make them smaller and easier to twist later), herbs, olives and cheese.
  • Cover with the second layer of dough - like a giant raw sandwich.
  • I often use the rolling pin just to even the layers and help the layers stick together by rolling gently over the top.

Now make the twists.
  • Cut the dough into strips about 2 cm wide and10-15 cm long (they do stretch).
  • Take each strip and twist it two or three times before placing on a baking sheet. I cover my baking sheets with parchment, but a lightly oiled and flour dusted baking sheet works just as well.

Bake in a preheated oven about 200 degrees (190 fan) or gas 6. for about 15 minutes until golden and the cheese is bubbling.

Leave to cool on a rack and just try to keep your hands off!

My daughter also decided to make fairy cakes for the bring and share lunch - but I got distracted and didn't take anymore photos.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Gertie Bow Blouse

I had Gertie's New Book for Better Sewing at Christmas and have been pouring over the pages ever since trying to decide what I'd make first.

This is my first make from the book and it was soooo easy to follow the instructions. The patterns are printed on several sheets in a envelope at the front of the book. Before opening this envelope I had visions of a Burdastyle magazine style mass of many lines to decipher. To my joy the patterns were very clearly laid out and although they did need to be traced it was very easy to do.

I read a few reviews from people who'd made this up and many commented that the neckline was very tight. So before I started on the fabric I made alterations to the neck edge and neck band.

Gertie's example piece is made in a quite substantial fabric, while I had this quite lightweight silk, that I picked up in Hong Kong 2 years ago, so I wasn't quite sure how it would work in this style.

It was easy and quick to sew up. The hand stitched sleeve hems took the longest time. I did them while watching the Great British Sewing Bee last night - I really would like to see Lauren win.

I wore my blouse to work today (I'm an art teacher and I had a rather messy day today - not good when wearing a silk blouse!)

My husband took the photos when I got home - no creases! now that's the type of fabric I like. The blouse is really comfortable and easy to wear, and cool - which is a good thing in my overheated classroom!

I'll definitely be making this again and as styled in the book I think I'll make a pencil skirt to match it with. The skirt I'm wearing today is from White Stuff.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Be My Guest

Be My Guest.
I'm planning a series of guest posts here on Ragbags and gladrags and I'd love you to take part.

I'm looking for all you crafty types to come and share a bit about yourself, or a tutorial, or a pattern or recipe. I thought it was about time we got to know other members of the blogosphere a little better. So if you'd like to take part; drop me a line at art (dot) coopsville (at) gmail (dot) com. or find me on google+ or facebook. 

Let me know what you'd like to contribute and I'll get back to you.

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Tangerine Dreams - or how my daughter made her own dress part 2

 Last week I posted here about my daughter making her own dress. I had tried to get her to sew last year, but she wasn't really interested! This time, however, she was keen, wanted to do most of it herself and she did.

Through making this dress she is now confident in;
  • Pinning and sewing a straight seam (with even seam allowance).
  • Folding, pressing and sewing a baby hem.
  • Using the overlocker to neaten seams.
  • Pressing seams open and using a press cloth and tailors ham.

 She knows how to...
  • Make Bias binding (and she understands what bias binding does).
  • Insert a lapped zipper.
  • Insert set in sleeves.
She will need more help with these as they take a while to master, but at least she understands the basics.

I just love the contrast sash - matching shoes needed now. I like it that my daughter has her own style and taste. She designed this dress and we planned and made it together. I don't think it will be long before she is making her own things without my help!

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Me Made May'13 - I'm in

'I, Claire of Ragbags and Gladrags, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May '13. I endeavour to wear one handmade item each day for the duration of May 2013'

Get yourself over to So Zo... What do you Know? and sign up.

Flower Applique Skirt

While watching the Great British Sewing Bee last night I was reminded of the Skirt I refashioned a while ago. Stuart, one of the contestants, refashioned a skirt with flower shaped pockets and free motion embroidery. This is similar to how I created this skirt - but it didn't have any pockets on it!
You can find the original post here.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

The Great British Sewing Bee

Don't forget episode 2 of the Great British Sewing Bee is on tonight. 8pm on BBC2 - don't miss it. I can't wait to see how well Tilly and the other contestants do. Tell all your friends! - Who do you want to win?

Monday, 8 April 2013

Sewing Fly Zippers in Trousers (pants)

I really quite like these slim pencil pants from Burdastyle 04/2013 114B, and I have a gorgeous red gaberdine that I'd like to make them in. But I'm not sure about the flat front. I'd like to make them a little more like jeans and add pockets and a fly front. Now pockets I can do, but I've only ever attempted a fly front once and can't really remember how I did it. So today I decided to make a practise fly front.
I'm a great believer in dis-assembly to help understand how things are made. and while I didn't actually take anything apart to work this out I used a pair of trousers and looked carefully at how the fly front zip was constructed.

Here's my take on a fly front and I'd love to hear how you tackle this job -do you have any useful tips?

Right and left front with extension, zip and a rectangle of fabric to make a zip guard. this stops the back of the zip lying against the skin.

Fold the rectangle for the zip guard in half and Sew as shown. I decided to enclose the seam but you could just neaten the edges with an overlocker or zigzag stitch.

Sew the zipper tape to the zip guard, close to the edge.

Sew the centre front seam on your garment. Most pattern have a notch where you need to stop.

 I pressed the seam open and pressed the extension to one side.

This is how it looks from the right side - you can see the extensions  as this fabric is quite thin.

Fold the front section down. this is just to help line up the zip.

Lay the zip face down onto the front. You can see the zip is not right on the edge- this will mean that you can't see the zipper teeth when it's completed. the zip will be neatly hidden  from sight.

Hold the zip in place with your fingers and pin it to the extension, close to the zipper teeth.

As you are doing this fold the zip guard out of the way. we don't want to sew it to this part of the front.

Use a zipper foot to stitch as close as possible to the zipper teeth. This is what it will look like when you've done that. the zipper guard is NOT sewn to this bit.

The front should look like this. You can see the centre front fold on the fabric.

The other front piece should extend slightly beyond the centre front. you can see this pressed edge here.

 Fold and pin the extension on the other side to the zipper tape and guard.

Sew close to the zip with your zipper foot. It should look like this.

Once pressed the zip should now look like this. We need to secure the layers and make sure the zipper guard does not flap around.

On the wrong side, pin the zip guard out of the way.

Stitch on the right side to just before where you want to curve to follow the extension - you can just see the extension through the fabric.

Fold the zipper guard back in place and pin. The next set of stitching will secure the zipper guard and stop it flapping around.

Stitch through all the layers in a smooth curved line. I just used back stitch to secure this stitching, but on a garment I'd probably use a satin stich for a better finish.

This is the finished zip from the front.

and from the back (I would normally neaten all edges with an overlocker).
I hope you found this useful. I find it really useful to try out techniques before I use them on a garment.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

How to make and use bias binding

My Daughter and I need to complete her lovely orange dress. I’d decided to use bias binding at the neckline. As I don’t have a fancy bias binding maker as demonstrated on the Great British Sewing Bee, I’ll have to make it the old fashioned way.
How to make bias binding.
Rectangle of fabric
First take a rectangle of fabric cut on the straight grain. I use the selvedge edge as my long edge, which helps line up the fabric. I’m using the same fabric as the dress as I want the binding to match – you could always use a contrasting colour if you wished.
Marking the strips
Mark the fabric with tailor’s chalk of a special water-soluble pen designed for fabric. The lines should be drawn at a 45-degree angle to the selvedge edge and no less than 1 inch (2.5cm) wide. A clear quilting ruler is ideal for keeping an even width between the lines. You could also apply inch wide masking tape to the fabric and remove once the strips are cut. Personally I use the width of my metre ruler, as I find it gives the perfect finished width to the bias strips.
Cut the strips.
Pin strips together
If you need a long piece of bias binding you will need to join several lengths together. You need to join to create a straight length with even edges.  Pin the strips together at the end, creating a V shape as shown in the photograph. The ends should overlap in such a way as to create small triangles at either end. This will ensure that your bias strip has a straight edge. Stitch and secure with a backstitch.
Sew strips together
 Press the seam open and trim the seam allowance.
Press open and trim seam
 As bias binding often encloses the raw edge of another piece of fabric it is folded in half and its raw edges are enclosed.  To do this fold and press the strip in half along its length.
Press the strip in half
The fold after pressing
Open the strip out and fold the edges into meet the centre fold and press. This can be quite fiddly and can take a little practice to get the hang of it. 
Partially pressed strip
Fold along the centre line again and press once more. This completes the bias binding.
Completed bias binding

How and why to use bias binding.

So what’s so special about bias binding?
Bias Binding has a lot more stretch than fabric cut on the straight grain. Just try gently pulling a woven fabric across, then down and then at an angle (bias) and you’ll see what I mean. This means that it will follow curved edges much better and is therefore ideal for necklines, armholes and curved hems.
Bias strips also tend to fray a lot less than the straight grain which makes them ideal for finishing a garment, both on the outside as decorative features and to give a couture finish to the insides of a garment.
I’ll show you just 3 ways to use bias binding to finish a curved edge.
Enclose the raw edge. 
This is the easiest and most straightforward technique. 
Pin through all layers
Simply pin the bias binding to the edge making sure that you pin through all (5) layers of fabric and stitch them together. 
Stitch through all layer
 I’ve used this method when making summer dresses and tops with spaghetti straps.
Summer dress technique
Stitch in the ditch. 
This takes a little more time but will almost hide your stitches. 

open the strip and pin to the curve
Open the bias strip out and pin the first fold (right sides together) to the curved seam. Stitch carefully.

Stitch along the fold line
Fold the rest of the bias binding to the wrong side and ensure the raw edges are enclosed. Pin to cover the stitching.  
fold over and pin through all layer
Stitch from the right side, along the seam line. Using a matching thread will mean the stitched as less obvious. You could also hand stitch from the wrong side to avoid any stitched showing.
stitch in the ditch
Bias facing
This can be used instead of a regular facing. Begin as you did for the stitch in the ditch method, but this time trim the seam allowances to 1/8 inch, fold the bias strip to the wrong side and pin down, enclosing the raw edge. 
Fold all the bias binding to the reverse and pin in place
 Hand stitch using a whipstitch, this should only catch a few threads and very small stitches can be seen on the right side.
Stitch the facing in place
Completed whip stitch from the wrong side
Completed whip stitch from the right side
There are many more ways to use bias binding, but I hope you found this tutorial useful.


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