Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Wendy Ward - Culottes

Hi everyone, it is my turn on the blog tour for Wendy's wonderful new book 'A beginners guide to skirts'!


First of all I have been following along with Wendy's progress on this book from the beginning via the magic of Instagram so I was really looking forward to seeing the end product. You can tell as soon as you open the cover that a lot of attention to detail has been paid even down to aaaall the hand drawn illustrations so I was really happy once the book was released and I was offered the chance to review it!


The projects run through the book in order of difficulty, starting with a simple jersey tube skirt and ending with a gathered skirt with button front and pockets, but all look like they could be tackled by an advanced beginner from the offset. What I like about the projects is that they start with a fairly simple template, so my immediate instinct is to imagine what bold fabrics I could use or what pattern adaptions I could make. There is a lot of scope to make your own mark on these styles and as they stand they are really great wardrobe staples. My favourite being the Roehampton culottes I did make and the Rusholme midi A-line with pockets that I have yet to make.

The instructions themselves mainly reside in the back of the book where you are instructed to flick back to for things like inserting zips or making up pockets etc... There is a lot of detail here that could easily be used for projects outside of this book.

I made the knee length culottes in this linen look suiting supplied by Fabworks mill shop. I was trying not to get too excited about the prospect of free fabric and choose something that would slot into my wardrobe nicely and this has a really good heavy drape to it! I even managed to squeeze these out of 1.5 metres of fabric, but this was a risky strategy that I wouldn't advise...


The fit is spot on and the only change I made was to insert a centre back zip instead of in the side seam. I really, really love them! Ok, so that bubble at the top of the zip is annoying and also the waistband overlaps on top instead of underneath. The poppers hopefully make it look intentional, but all I can say is I was deeply distracted by the finale of 'The Fall' (creepy BBC series) whilst making up this area, which if you were watching it too you will understand why I was unable to fully concentrate!


Here we are demonstrating how wide they are!


I personally feel that this style works best in a soft drapey fabric, as they are lovely and swishy, but the book sample does show them in a heavier fabric for comparison.

Because of the plain fabric I had great fun finishing everything nicely with press studs and bias binding on the waistband. I also used a bias binding extension on the centre back seam where it forms the lap over the zip as the seam allowance needs to be wider to account for this (which it is as per the pattern on the side seam). This was only because of my deviation from the pattern, so you probably won't need to worry about that!


 So to sum up this is a great book in my opinion and a great basis for loads of different skirt/wide leg trouser options beyond those in the book!

The only thing that I was not such a fan of was the way the patterns are laid out on the sheets in the back. The leg of the trousers for example are split into a couple of pieces that you need to bring together in the tracing and the lines are all different colours which I found tricky as I was tracing a pale blue line which was difficult to see through my paper. If the publishers offered a link to download the pattern sheets to print at home I would definitely have gone for that and just cut them straight out (note to publishers). Anyway, just a small thing really to improve the user experience when locating the patterns.

Honestly though I really value having this in my collection and just picking it out of the shelf to write this post has filled me with joy and confidence in it's contents!

I hope you enjoyed reading my review and that it has provide you with a rounded view, but if you have any questions then just ask! xxx

Thursday, 10 November 2016

2 leather genoa totes

Hello, I have something very fun to share with you today. Not one but two leather bags!


I was contacted by Anna a couple of months back with a link to her new Genoa Tote pattern, which is what I'm showing you. I must admit that I don't love getting freebies because I can feel my creativity dropping when I feel obliged to use something, but I did not feel like that with Anna at all because it was a fairly casual exchange where I felt she wasn't expecting me to use her pattern. I was thinking of making a bag anyway and found it useful having a template!

On the note of freebies I am reviewing something next week, which is unusual for me, but again I really wanted to make the project for me so it was a joy not a chore ;-)

As mentioned above I used the pattern as a template, but I constructed it how I wanted to because I was using very different materials.

This bag was the first one I made in leather and was a gift for a friend. All the leather was bought on eBay and is reclaimed as it's offcuts that were being sold second hand. The strap leather was reclaimed of sorts as it was an offcut thrown in with something else I bought new! It's thick metallic olive green and is perfect for straps. The kind of thickness used for stachels.


The main front has a reverse applique design from some screen prints I have designed and used many times in the past. I sewed everything on my Pfaff Passport 2.0 with a leather needle in and walking foot engaged and it sewed very easily.


I backed the main back front and back with horse hair canvas for a bit more stability and I really like the structure it has provided. I also made the inside zip pocket a lot longer than the pattern.

I preferred to stitch my straps in place rather than use rivets. I punched the holes in a design to echo the cut outs and stitched them on with a thick waxed linen thread. I do have screw in rivets that I could have used, but I prefer this look! I also left the top edges of the bag cut raw rather than folded over as it looked neater than trying to grapple with the leather to fold over nicely.



The leather facing on the top of the lining only has one join (I didn't use the pattern piece for this) and it is joined flat with a piece of horsehair layered underneath to keep it together and reduce bulk. My leather needle snagged the lining on this one a bit which is a shame, but hopefully it doesn't show quite as much in real life!

Oh look, also my pockets are constructed differently! I don't mean to change everything, it just kind of happens as I try to use things from my stash. My red zip is an open ended one, so I had to cover the bottom of it. Rather than make a pocket with the seams on the inside I bound the edges with bias binding which does the double duty of covering the raw edges of the fabric as well as the opening bottom of the zip!


Next up is more of the same with more reclaimed leather. The orange is actually from my old handbag I am replacing as is the key chain thingy. The yellow strap leather was bought new (the metallic olive leather for the above straps was thrown in with this order).




Oh how I love this bag!


The only thing missing was a matching purse right? Sorted and with co-ordinating cut outs!


I made a very simple little bag which I just marked out straight onto the leather and sewed up. The lining is hand stitched to the inside of the zip.


A little flat gusseted bottom for a bit more room in there.


This was so much fun and sewing leather on my machine was way easier than I thought it would be. I would be interested to see if my old Toyota would handle leather with the correct needle, although the feed has always been a bit uneven on that one and there is no walking foot so I probably wont bother.

A review of sorts, but not really as I'm notoriously bad at following other peoples instructions. The pattern in general is very well put together and the instructions look very detailed, so although the pattern is simple you get a lot of guidance on how to make a really nicely finished bag. Hopefully this will provide you with some inspiration for what you can do to personalise your own bag or if you were thinking of working with leather then maybe this gives you some ideas of how you can make it more individual! No blank canvas is safe!!!