Sunday, 21 June 2015

Made by Me: Style Arc Gabby Jacket

If you follow me in Instagram you'll probably have seen a sneak peak of this jacket, and also a blurry mirror/phone photo of me wearing it yesterday.





It's the Style Arc Gabby  woven jacket, described on the Style Arc website as follows:

The stylish sleeve head and reverse revere of this jacket gives the look of now. Wear it with jeans for a casual look or with a skirt for the office or special occasion. This jacket meets at the front therefore no buttons required also the jetted pockets are optional.




I bought the pattern a couple of months ago, thinking it would make a great jacket to wear with jeans.   I love the reverse reveres and the extended shoulders, which I think balance out my wider hips pretty well.  They're also something that have featured quite heavily in some of Alexander McQueen's designs, so after seeing the Savage Beauty exhibition a couple of weeks ago I was tempted to pull the pattern out and give it a go. 

The fabric is curtain remnants from a shop local to me.  They often have a box of remnants and off-cuts outside - there were 4 pieces of this fabric, each the full width of the fabric but only about 40cm long, and they were priced at £2.00 each.  I snapped up all 4 and had just enough to make this jacket. 




I had to cut the back with a centre seam instead of on the fold as directed by the pattern, but this worked out well as I ended up adding some shaping to the centre back seam as well as some darts in the back.  My muslin was just too boxy for my liking.  You can see the darts and back seam in the photo above.  Please excuse the wrinkles, I'd just worn the jacket out to lunch.

The other alteration I had to do was to take out one inch in length between the shoulder and bottom of the armhole.  This area was too long for me, resulting in the whole jacket looking too big.  I didn't re-muslin after I'd taken the length out, and thankfully it's turned out perfectly.




The jacket is fully lined, using remnants from my own stash, a taupe matt satin for the body, and cream poly lining for the sleeves.  The lining was semi-bagged (is that even a thing?) - I attached the lining to the shell around the neckline/fronts/hem of the body and turned right side out through an opening in a side seam.  The sleeve hems are hand sewn, as I wasn't sure exactly how long the sleeves needed to be until I'd got the shoulder pads in. 

The shoulder pads are an important feature.  I ordered some lovely posh ones, but they haven't arrived yet, so I ended up using some cheaper ones from my local arts and crafts shop.  They feel OK though, and hopefully they'll hold up with wear.  I also added some sleeve heads and support to the extended shoulders, as the back of the shoulder in particular kept collapsing in.  This was done using bias cut strips of the fashion fabric, and a lot of trial and error.  I was quite surprised that the shoulders needed the additional support as the fabric is pretty thick and stiff, but it was definitely worth the effort to add it.




I didn't have enough fabric to even think about pattern matching, but I'm really quite pleased with the way the pattern has fallen across the fronts.  I omitted the jetted pockets.  The fabric frayed like mad as soon as you looked at it, and I didn't fancy the additional hassle of trying to make the jetted pockets look good.  I don't think this particular fabric really needs them either.

I am very pleased with how this jacket has turned out.  I do love Style Arc patterns, and this one is not a disappointment in any shape or form, although as usual the instructions are minimal at best.  I didn't really use the instructions that much.  I've made several jackets recently so just did what I'd done with those - the beauty of collarless jackets is they're much more straightforward than collared ones.




  


Monday, 15 June 2015

Minerva Blogger Network - Branson Dress

This month’s Minerva project is another dress, and my second this year with buttons and buttonholes!  That must be a record for me.





It’s not actually the dress I had intended to make.  When I ordered my fabric – this black washed linen and rayon  – I ordered a Vogue pattern, V1447  to be precise.  I thought the black linen/rayon would make a lovely summer sun dress, and I’m sure it would have done if I could have got the pattern to fit. 

I muslined the dress but wasn’t happy with the fit of the bodice at all, mainly how low the back was.  Recently I’ve had quite limited sewing time and I just couldn’t work out how I could alter the bodice so I’d be happy with it.  I decided to put the pattern aside to hopefully be revisited at a later date and try something else.

I’d recently been part of the pattern testing process for Lily Sage & Co.’s new Branson top  and while making my test version I thought how nice it would look as a dress.  So... without making a muslin this time I turned it into a dress.  I’m not the only person to have thought of this – Debbie Iles, the designer has mentioned that she may well make a dress version, and Reyna Lay has shared a tutorial for how she made the alterations here    I did almost exactly the same as Reyna Lay, except I also added the curved hem to the back of the skirt.

 
 


The only other alteration I made was to make a full belt and belt loops, rather than the ties that are sewn into the side seams on the original pattern. 



I haven’t worn this yet, as since I finished it the weather hasn’t really been warm enough, but fingers crossed it won’t be long before I am able to wear it.  It feels lovely on, I’m sure the fabric will be perfect for the nice warm weather I’m sure is just around the corner.  I think this could be my perfect summer dress!
 

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Alexander McQueen : Savage Beauty

Earlier this week I had the pleasure of a day off work to visit the current Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty exhibition at the Victoria and Albert museum.

I didn't know quite what to expect, although I had heard many reports that the exhibition was more than worth a visit.  It's been incredibly hard to get tickets, and even though the V&A have extended the run, the additional dates are almost sold out as well.

To say it was incredible is an understatement.  It was beautiful, thought provoking, awe inspiring and slightly disturbing in parts.  It was the most amazing experience I have ever had at a museum.

When I started writing this post I was hoping to write something beautifully eloquent about the exhibition, McQueen's genius and my feelings about it all... but I can't!  Even a couple of days later I'm finding it hard to put into words how I felt walking round the exhibition space. 

Instead I'll just share with you a few photos (not mine, as cameras - as well as sketching - were forbidden) of some of my favourite pieces/displays and a few quotes and comments made by Alexander McQueen.

Coat from the Dante collection, A/W 1996/97. 

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"I want to empower women.  I want people to be afraid of the women I dress." - Alexander McQueen


I can only imagine how empowered you would feel in this leather dress from the A/W 1997/98 Eclect Dissect collection.  Photo courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

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"I wanted to exaggerate a woman's form, almost along the lines of a classical statue." - Alexander McQueen


Photo above shows the exhibition display for the A/W 2006/07 Widows of Culloden collection, below are photos of some of the garments as they appeared on the catwalk.

All photos from Vogue.co.uk
 

Exhibition display from the A/W 2008/09 collection, The Girl Who Lived in the Tree.

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"I want to be the purveyor of a certain silhouette or a way of cutting so that when I am dead and gone people will know that the twenty-first century was started by Alexander McQueen." - Alexander McQueen


One of the highlights for me - and almost overwhelming - was the Cabinet of Curiosities section; a huge room lined from floor to ceiling with dresses, shoes, jewellery and video screens playing catwalk shows it was hard to take everything in.  It would have been quite possible to spend the entire day just in this room and still not feel you had taken everything in properly.


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The Romantic Gothic gallery featured a stunning display in a gilded case which included the famous Angel dress from the A/W 2010/11 collection, which debuted just a month after McQueen's death in February 2010.

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The exhibition closed with a display of the final collection to be completed by McQueen (the A/W 2010/11 not being fully complete before his death) - Plato's Atlantis from S/S 2010.

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Photos from vogue.co.uk

Sometimes it is hard to look behind the dark and almost frightening designs on display - an ensemble made completely of black feathers; a coat made from balled up (fake) hair - and see how they could relate to what we wear or what is available to us on the high street, but looking closer McQueen's designs have influenced us a great deal.  Tartan and lace, exaggerated shouldered jackets, digital "sea creature" prints?  They're all there in McQueen's collections and they're all there for us today. 

Was McQueen a genius?  I certainly think so. 

Unfortunately it looks like tickets for the remainder of the exhibitions run are sold out, otherwise I would be going again.

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Pattern Testing the Branson Top

Hello there!  I feel like a bit of a stranger round these parts, I know I haven't blogged recently, but I didn't realise it had been almost a month.

I haven't really had that much to blog about recently, hence the silence.  I've been sewing odd bits and bobs, but have mainly been working on an outfit I'm making for a friend, which I'll hopefully be able to share with you soon, as it's nearly finished. 

I did also have the pleasure of pattern testing the Branson top last month, a new pattern by Debbie of Lily Sage and Co

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I fell in love with Debbie's own version of this, and when she said she was going to release a pattern and was looking for testers I quickly signed up and was lucky enough to be chosen.

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I have to say, although I loved the top on Debbie, I wasn't sure how it would look on me, as we have very different body shapes.  However I'm pretty pleased with the result.

The pattern is described by Debbie as a button down top with dropped shoulders and two sleeve options. The back of the top is moderately fitted, with a peplum. The front of the top is unfitted with a longer, graduated hem, and a front waist tie. View A is sleeveless. View B has loosely fitted sleeves with a curved hem feature.

It comes with two separate pattern pieces for the front - one for B cups and below and one for C cups and above.  I know it's extra work for the designer but I think that's a great feature in an independent pattern. 



As part of the testing process I made View B with the long sleeves and used the C+ front pattern piece. 

The top came together beautifully, I was really impressed with the way all the pattern pieces fitted perfectly and the instructions were in my opinion just right.  Plenty of detail, without talking down to you, and a few handy little tips sprinkled throughout.

After wearing the top a couple of times I have altered the sleeves slightly.  The curved hem unfortunately drove me mad when I wore the top, so I unpicked the hem facing, trimmed the excess off and refinished the sleeves with a straight hem.  I think I'll get a lot more wear out of it this way. 



I'm also excited to make the sleeveless version soon, and at some stage would like to attempt a dress version as well.  I think it should be pretty easy to lengthen.



As part of the pattern testing process Debbie provided me with the pdf pattern at test stage and has also given me a copy of the finalised pattern with a few minor alterations following the testing feedback. 

Debbie's Sea Change top is high on my list to make soon as well. 

Thanks very much to Debbie for allowing me to test this pattern.