Sunday, 29 May 2016

Chai Latte Kielo

I told you I was converted to this pattern.

This has to be one of the best independent dress sewing patterns out there. The design is flattering to all shapes and sizes. The pattern instructions are soooooooo easy to follow and it's a really quick make. Oh and you can make it in a woven - if you choose your fabric carefully. you can get it here.

As I've said before, I had bypassed this pattern, simple because of the styling on the sample. It was sheer and in a colour that I would never ever wear. However after seeing a few floating around the blogosphere and pinterest I was interested. I bought the pattern and looked for something to make it up in - a cheap fabric, just in case it was a train wreck. I bought 2m of this semi sheer fabric from the market. I then discovered that Dorothy Perkins have blouses in this exact fabric.

Despite the pattern being designed for a knit I made this up in a woven. I did measure the pattern and was convinced that it would work, and it did. The whole thing took less than 2 hours to cut out and sew and I already have orders for one for my daughter and a friend. I also made one for my mum. blogged about here.

I cannot recommend this pattern enough. I think this is my new favourite, I am going to make a knit version too.

Its great to wear as the fabric doesn't crease. I wore it with my upcycled denim jacket and flat shoes. perfect for sitting in the sun and sipping a Chai Latte.

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Shirt Success

Yeah - I finally managed to make a shirt I'm happy with.

I have made only a few shirts. I've never used a pattern - each one has been a rub off of a commercial shirt. I have had a few problems with the fit and styling. One of the biggest problems was making the collar and cuffs firm enough.

So this was the shirt I made for John for his birthday. I still think there are a couple of issues, but its a big improvement on the last one.

A couple of years ago I traced a shirt that fitted him well and used it to make my pattern. It was not too bad, but the collar was a bit tight and the length a little bit short. I fixed these issues for the next version, but I still hadn't sorted out the floppy collar. which was not aided by the soft fabric.

This time I decided to sort out the collar and cuffs and I also included a separate button placket, where the previous versions had a simple folded over CF edge.

I did quite a bit of reading about collar construction techniques and how it should be interfaced. I used a combination of techniques, but I do find the Grainline Archer sewalong really helpful generally for sewing shirts. However I didn't use this technique this time. I made the collar and pressed it into shape, attached the stand and then added the collar to the stand.

To ensure the correct firmness and crisp finish I actually used a double layer of interfacing. I used a medium firm iron on and this seemed to work really well.

The seams were faux flat felled - next time I would like to try doing a proper flat felled seam. The hem was a rolled hem, but done without a rolled hem foot.

My daughter chose the buttons and I initially though they were a little bit too big. I do think they work though, but next time I'd go a bit smaller.

I know I've done a good job when John asks me if I'd made it! He was impressed with the finish and initially though it was a RTW shirt. NO CHANCE!

Sunday, 15 May 2016

More art not less

It's that time of year when exams start. My eldest son has his first GCSE exam this week and my daughter has just taken her options. The year 6 students at the school I work in have just taken their SATs and a couple of weeks ago Ofsted paid us a visit.  There has been much change to the curriculum in the UK and the government first of all want all schools to become academies and then change their mind! Schools want to have outstanding Ofsted ratings and teachers are suck in the middle trying to make sense of it all. All these things have prompted me to write this post.

We went off to my daughters high school a couple of weeks ago to meet with her form teacher in order to agree her options for GCSE (She's only in year 8 and options are usually taken in year 9, but let's not get into that one).

Actually the process was quite painless. She knew which options she wanted to take and the school were happy with them too. She chose Art, Drama, Spanish and Geography. Completely her own choice, and supported by us. I know of other schools where students have been told they can't do arts subjects and they have been forced down a more 'academic' route. This saddens me as the arts have been left out of the EBacc and many schools are squeezing them out of the curriculum. Less art at KS3 and fewer GCSE classes. Often not replacing arts teachers when they leave.

I'm glad that the school my children go to recognises their abilities and preferences and will let them take the subjects they are interested in. Both my sons are quite academic, but they both have an arts subject. One took music and the other product design. I know that my daughter will thrive doing the arts and it's her ambition to become a drama teacher.

I'm also fortunate to work in a school that values the arts. Since starting there in 2014 I've seen students become passionate artists. From learning new techniques to working as artists and creating individual pieces that reflect their personalities. There's still a long way to go, but I'm so impressed with the work they have created and I wanted to share some of it here (sorry for the picture heavy post, but I am one proud teacher).

We started the year with quite traditional techniques and then work increasingly independently as they become more confident. I expect a lot from my students and they do work hard. But it's a different sort of work to English and Maths but is still rigorous and fun! This different way of working allows students to develop creativity in a wider context and become wholistic learners.

Some students really do engage with all aspects of art and you can see the joy on their faces as they create work or learn a new technique. Others just enjoy the physicality of the subject and engage with the messy stuff. I have just started some clay work with year 7 and they are having a whale of a time with it. I will share some as they progress.

Making and creating is part of being human and should be fostered in our education system at all levels.

I'm glad to be where I am at the moment. I get to be part of developing creativity in young people and that is set to increase next year as we run an arts trip to London and start to deliver the Arts Award for our students. I'm excited for this and can't wait to see the young people I work with grow and develop. #moreartnotless.

Year 5 South American inspired masks, Year 6 Still Life food, Year 7 Impressionistic Lamdscapes, Year 8 Portraits and Tom Phillips style found Poetry. Still to come. Year 5 using colour and pattern, Year 6 Printmaking. Year 7 Hybrid animals in clay and year 8 recycled book art.

Sunday, 8 May 2016

The Hunter Tank

A while a go I had the opportunity of testing the Hunter Tank for Jennifer Lauren Vintage. The pattern has been released this week, so grab yourselves a copy. This is a lovely summery top with a tie at the front waist. It is designed to sit at the waist.  and would look fantastic paired with high waist skirt or trousers. I made this in a light weight navy cotton with a strawberry design and used navy bias binding for the neck and armholes. 

This is a quick make and I made it in an afternoon. The fit was good and I liked the design, although I'm not sure it really fits with my style. My daughter really does love this and it goes really well with her skinny jeans.

If you're looking for something to sew for your holidays then this is a good option. I made this using less than 1m of fabric.  

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Frida Fantastico

I have been waiting to blog this for ages. 
At Christmas my husband bought me 2m of this lovely fabric from Fancy Moon.

I decided I wanted a dress, but with only 2m and a very distinct pattern it had to be a slim skirted version.
I drafted a bodice using my own block, added some cap sleeves and used the pencil skirt from Gertie's first book.

I was really careful with the pattern placement on the bodice and managed to match the pattern on the bodice back quite well. Unfortunately I didn't have enough fabric to match the back of the skirt.

The bodice is lined with a light cotton muslin and I underlined the skirt with the same fabric. The shell fabric just needed a little extra body.

I finished the dress way back in February, but it had been too cold to wear. I did wear it a couple of weeks ago when we had the warm spell. Just waiting for it to get warm enough to have this in regular rotation.  

What would you make out of fabric like this?


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