Monday, 30 March 2015

SIMPLICITY’S STAR SEWIST: Dressmaking Challenge -> I must be frickin' nuts

I have so many projects (including commissions) that I need to get done ASAP. And yet. I cannot resist a challenge. I don't know whats wrong with me!

Simplicity are running this competition for sewing bloggers. Well I'm one of those, although I've done precious little dressmaking lately.

There are three patterns to choose from, but I've gone for the dress option, which is this one.

See now, it says its easy, which I'm sure it is. 
What it does not say on this envelope, but which I know, is that it only goes up to a size 18. 

Now a size 18 in a pattern is not the same as a shop size 18. I need anything up to a size 24 in a dress pattern. Which means that this will not fit me, and I will have to grade it up. Bleugh.

I wouldn't normally go for this design either - its very sixties, and sheath dresses aren't my thing, due to my lovely large backside. However, it wouldn't be a challenge otherwise would it?!

I need to pick a style, then embellish/modify/whatevs.
I need to do it in the next 8 weeks. Alongside the bags, and the childrens clothes, and my bridezilla dress.

Speaking of the bridezilla dress (I'm not the bridezilla!) I think I'm going for Simplicity 1459, which is terribly twee on the front cover, but it definitely is more my style.

This is the fabric, and my shoes. I have been looking all over for a dress to match the shoes (ebay bargain) and then I remembered. Doh! This fabric I bought on ebay last year and never got the chance to use. Awesome!

I think I will go for the sleeveless option. Should I do the collar in cream though, or use this fabric. Hmm...

A little rucksack / swim bag for Mia D.

Just a quick one, whilst I remember!

My friend Lisa saw some fabric I posted on my SheWearsRedFeathers facebook page a while back. Fell in love. Asked me if I could make her eldest daughter, Ninja extraordinaire, a swim bag.

I sent her a few fabric options, and Mia chose the blue. Which is awesome, right?

I had a little time whilst awaiting hardware for another commission, so I sewed this up in the meantime. 

Modelled by Joey who is in Mia's year at school. He wasn't terribly happy about it but at least he stayed still. Noah just scarpered.

This is essentially just a drawstring rucksack, but I've boxed the bottom so it doesn't just sit flat.

Its also lined with PUL, making it it almost waterproof (I can't vouch for the seams but it should do its job)

Overall, a happy little project ( I didn't use a pattern as I made my own, which I may even post one day if I have the time to write it all out!)

Friday, 27 March 2015

Pinup Girl Ellory Bag: Pattern Test

I was contacted by Sarah from a couple of weeks ago to see if I wanted to participate in some bag testing.

I should have said no, because I have a lot of commissions to get through, and I know from the last pattern test from Sarah that her designs are wonderful, but fairly advanced.

I couldn't say no though. When I saw her test bag, I just really really wanted to give it a go. Its very bowling bag style i.e. a bit retro, a great roomy size, with three pockets.

This is a downloadable pattern. You do have to tape quite a few bits of paper together, then cut out the pattern pieces. If you aren't a big fan of doing that, then this is the worst bit (it was for me)

After that, it was relatively plain sailing. Sarahs patterns are clear and she provides checkboxes to tick off what you've done as you go!

I bought the fabric yonks ago - my first bag sale on Etsy was in this fabric ( it wasn't very good - see below - I didn't take fabric placement into consideration at all, but I'm improving all the time!)

I figured it needed using up. Plus the retro styling called for some retro fabric.

There are 3 pockets on this bag - one large inner pocket, and the sides also zip away to reveal pockets. Its roomy and perfect for a day out as you can fit a picnic in there! I added some D-rings on the side to add a shoulder strap if its needed.

Used a little gingham on the inside pocket to carry on that retro feel. Piping - who doesn't love piping? I'm fairly confident with adding this now, although it often takes a few passes of the needle to get it right!

This is quite a time consuming project. Slow and steady wins the race!

Which is the front and which is the back? Either or. Totally interchangeable!

Overall I'm moderately happy with my work this time. Its not as neat as I'd like because I didn't do the side pocket zips properly ( I folded the ends over - don't do that - just overlap them), so I won't be selling it as I hate to sell something not perfect. Its adorable though and I love it. 

As I said previously, Sarahs patterns are clear and well written. This is an advanced bag design, but a beginner can do it as long as they take it slow. 

The pattern is available from her site or from craftsy

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Plus Size Fashion: Voodoo Vixen Connie. Plus - adventures on a boat...

My friends Lisa and Julie had a joint birthday bash organised on Saturday. I already knew which dress I would be wearing, and that was the Connie.

It looks orange in the picture below - in fact it is pillar box red.

The detailing at the neck is brilliant. Sadly its also a bit big on me. I think you need a bigger chest to wear it. It looks ok (and everyone said it looked fine) but I was very aware of it gaping. I can fix this problem by just shifting the front straps into the bodice a little, so I will probably do that.

Yes, this is a tremendously blurry picture. I hadn't had anything to drink at this point either!

Its such a comfy dress - I can get it over my head which is a plus as I hate back zips. This is why stretchy fabric is such a plus. Its really a showstopper too. Compliments all round.

We got the boat from Godmanchester to the Brampton Mill. Captain Tim is a bit of a local 'character' and its only a 10 minute boat ride. Unfortunately it was spent in pitch blackness on the way there as there are no lights on the boat. Which was. Interesting!

I had this at the Brampton Mill. It was particularly nice. And vast. I almost ate it all! The service was fine in general, but the drinks service was atrocious. 

On the way back, we collected a very inebriated Captain Tim from the downstairs bar. He knows the stretch of river with his eyes shut. Luckily he also knows it sh*tfaced, so we thought we'd brave it. We spent about 10 minutes trying to locate his keys, with a young barman he kept calling Rupert. It transpires the slightly weary barman is in fact called Kieron.

The Birthday Girls (I do get mistaken for Lisa sometimes!)

Captain Tim hunts for his boat keys.

After a slightly slower journey home, in which Captain Tim gave us plenty of information we didn't need, and more that we can never unhear, we ended the night on plenty of giggles!

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Plus Size Fashion : Scarlet & Jo (Evans) Part II

I'm doing a little update, because I had to return all my Scarlett & Jo purchases (because some didn't suit me, and because they were all too big)
I did receive some comments about the sizing from Gifi Fields on my last post. The guidance on the Evans website did indicate that using my measurements (42-37.5-48) I should choose an 18, but I'm clearly not an S&J 18. My boobs are apparently bigger than I thought they were (38DD) but not big enough to fill an S&J size 18 dress.
He did explain that the sizing is graded down from a 24 (for standard size clothing, they tend to grade 'up' from smaller sizes) and this probably accounts for the generosity.

I just got my fan dress back in a 16, and I'm happy to say its perfect. I just needed the right size. (actually I need the right underwear too which is not what I've got on here) I could wear this to work, but I could wear it on an evening out as well with the right accessories. Probably not leggings like I'm wearing here...

I also wanted to show you one of my most favourite dresses, which I bought from Dotty Ps a couple of years back. This is a Blossom & Billie dress (Gifi Fields also collaborated on that collection) and whilst I don't normally wear tight dresses, this one is an exception. I love this dress so much. Slippers really don't show it off!
Does that pattern look familiar?!!

Monday, 16 March 2015

Plus Size Fashion: Bravissimo Fitting Review

I popped into Bravissimo at the weekend. The store is beautiful, but I was seriously underwhelmed by the fitting service. 

I have to say first off, that the staff were lovely and friendly. The store was empty (on a Saturday afternoon) so I was attended to immediately. I said I wanted a bra, basically - they offered me a fitting.

Now, I've never been fitted for a bra. I have reached the grand old age of forty without knowing really if I'm wearing the correct size. I rely on supermarket bras - Sainsburys do my staple bra - its comfy and seems to fit right, although they don't seem to last long before getting 'loose' around the back. However its £6 a pop, and I buy them in bulk on 25% off day. (below - my favourite bra - Sainsbos lace - comes in lots) Its not sexy. I'm a mother of two. When I'm not entertaining the kids, I'm at work, or I'm trying to sew. I don't have much time for sexy.

I've never been particularly well endowed in the chest region. They are heading south after having kids, and they've never been 'full'. I don't have a cleavage - they are too far apart - I can't actually get me a convincing cleavage with any amount of rigging. This bothered me when I was younger but these days its really not something that concerns me. They are mine. They are healthy. Who gives a ****. 
I wore a B cup until I had children. Now I tend to buy anything between a B or D depending on what brand it is. If it looks like my boobs fit in the cup, then that's what I buy.

Back to Bravissimo though - well the store is pretty lovely. (Cambridge - I'm talking about) Airy, spacious. Pepperberry on one side (no mirrors though - that annoys me - I want to be able to hold clothes up against myself to get an idea of whether it will suit me) and Bravissimo on the other. The range seemed pretty substantial, but then I'm not one for frequenting bra shops. Ok, I never go in bra shops, so I don't really know what that means, but everything was nicely displayed. I saw a blue bra and immediately wanted to try that one (see photo at the top)

As I said already, the staff were lovely, and I was offered a 'quick' fitting immediately, however the fitting itself didn't leave me with much confidence in the actual 'fit'. 
You can also have a 'full' fitting which is essentially a fitting with a personal shopper - they will bring you swimwear, sportswear, clothing as well as bras. I would have had to wait for that. I just wanted a bra. 

Headed into the changing room with the assistant who was perfectly lovely. 
I took off my t-shirt and she had a look at my current bra size. I actually thought that this was cheating - they are supposed to look at you and decided what size they think you are, not check your current size. Anyway, as I was wearing a 38C, she went off and got a 38D, as that's the smallest cup size they do. 
I mentioned the blue bra, but she said they didn't have it in my size, and brought back three random bras to try on (black soft cup, white lace cup, and satin floral) 

Essentially I put on the first and realised it was digging in across the top of my bust. I asked her back in for an opinion, and she said 'yes it looks nice'. When I mentioned the issue with it cutting in a little, she said 'oh then maybe we should try a DD'. I did lose confidence at this point - surely she should have seen this herself? 

Anyway she returned with more bras in a DD (not the blue one) I tried on a white one but fastened it on the smallest setting. It was clearly too tight. I had obscene amounts of back and underarm fat. She didn't notice this either even though it was digging in across my back in an obvious way. I mentioned that there was a bit too much fat under my arms with this. 'Oh that's just skin - we can't do much about that'. Not 'oh lets try loosening it'. 
To be fair, she did then say maybe a wider band would be better, which is what I would expected her to have suggested in order to reduce the sea of underarm fat jiggle, as well as 'move it to the next fastening'. I did like the white bra, and it did fit when adjusted correctly (in my opinion) but it was very similar to my staple bra, so I decided I didn't want to go for that.

Third time lucky. I tried on a black one which I liked. I asked her opinion again. She said yes, that was nice. She then adjusted the straps for me. I'm not sure why as it was then far too high on my back. I'm not an expert. But I do know that its not supposed to sit like that.

Overall I didn't feel like anyone had fitted me. I felt like I had gone into a very nice bra shop and someone had brought me some bras in a size similar to the one I already had one, which I then decided myself if they fit me or not.
I had hoped for someone to advise me what would be the best fit for me, the best shape for my 'type' of bust shape, the best length to have my straps, how it should feel and where it should sit across my back. That sort of thing. I got none of this. I didn't feel enlightened or advised in any way.

I did buy a bra incidentally as I felt like I should. Does it fit better than my Sainsbos bras? Dunno. It feels the same to me. Its very nice. (Enchanted by Freya £33) It covers my boobs well. Its a DD cup which surprised me.  It doesn't ride up. It doesn't dig in.

(On the way out, I checked - the blue one was available in a 38DD - gah!)

Bra shot below is best you're going to get from me BTW!

Plus Size Fashion: Simply Be Ballerina Pumps

Strictly speaking, I'm not sure if you can class footwear as 'Plus Size Fashion' but I think its appropriate if the footwear is not of the 'standard' size i.e. wider fit or wider calf and so on.

I bought these from Simply Be - I just wanted a very simple pair of matt black ballerinas (they do them in patent too - shown)

I'm not going to be doing any major walking sessions in them - to the school gates and back is probably the most I'll manage, and possibly the drunken stagger back from the local (not that it happens much these days) but they still need to be fit for purpose.

At 8 quid (and you can usually get at least 10% off this and free delivery if you can find a code ) they are a bargain - if you consider that high street shops (DP, New Look etc) are selling the same stuff for £9.99 and above.

I chose E fitting as I don't consider myself to have particularly wide feet, but quite often court shoes/pumps can feel too tight. I picked a size 7 - I've always been a 7 and if shoes don't fit me in a 7 then they are not a 7...

These fit -okay-ish. I tried on a few pairs in DP the other day, and the standard sizes crushed my toes (apart from the cutout ones, which at £18.99 were not in my 'cheap ballerinas' budget) and the wide ones were wide at the back as well as the front. I don't need wide at the back.

They are soft. I don't know what the material is - but its nice although they still seem to feel like they are cutting in a bit on the inner part where the bone above my big toes are. Not so much with my tights on, but they are quite uncomfortable with no tights. I'm not sure this is going to get any better but only time will tell.

The sole is ok. Its not substantial and I didn't expect it to be. I need to be able to wear them outdoors though. Time will tell how they cope with that.

They are going to be sweaty. I can tell that already - this is the issue with non-leather shoes. That's ok I can live with that.

They are not sexy or funky or any of that. They are functional.

Friday, 13 March 2015

Another Carpet Bag - Cath Kidston clocks (again)

I finished a bag yesterday. I have a few too many orders to cope with at the moment - fortunately I've had a bit of extra time at home waiting for people to fix the boiler, so I managed to get this commission completed. 

Emma saw my previous carpet bag, and wanted the same Cath Kidston fabric, but with a black polka contrast instead. I found some pu handles on etsy, and they arrived yesterday morning just after I told her I couldn't finish it until they arrived!

There is an inner zip pocket as well as slip pockets and a front pocket with a magnetic fastener and polka piping.
The tabs are to help pull open the frame. 

Anyone wondering what it looked like before finished: this is before I  put the handles on 

This is it held together before I sewed the lining to the outer. It then all gets pulled (handles and all) through a smallish hole in the lining (birthing!) to get it right side out.

Also I realised yesterday I was wearing the same print but in green!

Monday, 9 March 2015

Plus size fashion : Voodoo Vixen Connie, Retro Kitty, Penny, Edna

So first off, just to clarify, some might say I'm biased as I have done some modelling for Voodoo Vixen.
I'm not.
If I didn't like their clothes, I wouldn't wear or promote them on my personal pages or facebook. And since there's a high chance I won't be doing any more shoots for them (I won a competition - I'm not a model - I'm a software tester that makes bags and likes posing in nice frocks) there is no reason for me to want to review their clothes other than I think they are fabulous.

I wear their 1XL - previously 2XL - this is a size 18-20.
On Simply Be they are stating its a 16-18 but I think that this is incorrect - if you are 16 this will be too generous for you. My measurements are 42-38-48 if that helps.

Disclaimer: Our bedroom is generally a mess - as is the landing. Please try to not notice this. I don't get many opportunities to take photos so I do it regardless of the state of my house.

First off. The Connie. 
Since I posted pics of this on facebook at the weekend I had umpteen friends asking where to get it from. (Simply Be are the only place that stock it if you're plus size - if you aren't, you can get it in many online shops that sell retro fashion)

I cannot tell you how much I love this.
a) its my colour
b) the shape is lovely and sits on my waist correctly. Its a really flattering shape with a semi-full skirt.
c) the fabric is thick and slightly stretchy as per VV's usual standard - this means it supports and has 'give' all at the same time.
d) the neckline is. to. die. for
e) its a good length to hide my knees (I'm 5ft 6")
f) I don't actually need to upzip it (zip at back) - it goes over my head no problemo.
g) The glasses pattern is quirky but not too in yer face so I don't mind wearing this during the day. Its also easily worn as an evening outfit.
h) It has a matching cardi, the Edna - which is quite generously sized and I think I might get away with an XL in this. It also think the cardi might be overkill teamed with the dress. If the Lidl jeggings I bought the other day actually fitted me I might wear it with those instead. Or some black cigarette trousers. I have chosen not to post about those jeggings though, as the pics would be too embarrassing...

Secondly: the Retro Kitty

This dress surprised me. I would never have bought a candy pink dress. Pink is just not me. But I wore it for the London Edge aftershow party and was utterly surprised that I loved it!
I know I should have ironed it, but I don't iron until I wear in public. I also had a visitor whilst I was trying to take these shots - that's Joey - he's my 8 year old.

a) the colour actually suits me. Wowsers!
b) The shape is great. Its slightly too low on the waist for me unfortunately but I just wore a different belt and pulled it over slightly. Those cutaways are awesome. As usual plus size VV dresses are very modest so nothing feels like its 'hanging out' or overexposed'. The length is great.
c) the fabric - goes without saying - that thick stretchy cotton is nothing but flattering
d) the cats. <squeal> Its so cutesy, but I could wear it day or night.
e) the arms are cut low enough not to dig in. So important on a plus size dress.
f) it has pockets. Just leetle ones. but big enough for a phone.

Finally: The Penny in emerald green.

This dress has a bit of a goth vibe when worn. Its slightly shorter than the other two I've reviewed, but it still hides my knees. Its also available in fuschia. I like the green best.

a) the colour is gorgeous and the lacey overlay makes it fantastic for an evening out. Its sexy, as opposed to cutesy.
b) again, the fabric used has some give which gives security and comfort at the same time
c) the arms are cut low enough.
d) you don't have to have massive boobs to look sexy in this (I don't)

P.S. in case you were wondering, the shoes are Miss L Fire Palacio wedge.

Thursday, 5 March 2015

In which I make a Della Wallet - with Vinyl :)

Due to ongoing dramas with British Gas, I had to take the day off work yesterday (my 5th day off for BG visits since 29th December - and I need to take another next week!)

I took the opportunity to make this - its a sort of cross between a purse and a clutch (it has a wrist strap) and its made with a vinyl exterior.

Vinyl is hard to work with. This particular stuff is very thin though so I figured I'd give it a shot. 

Unfortunately what I didn't know is that it can crease, which is exactly what happened in the finishing stages when I was turning it all right side out. I am still working out how to remedy that without melting it!

The inside is very busy! There are credit card slots (8) note/voucher slots and also two zipped pockets which would easily fit a phone.

It fastens with magnetic snaps to a band on the outside.

Fingers crossed I can get those creases out!

Monday, 2 March 2015

My firstborn is 8 years old today!

Can you believe it. He is 8. My beautiful Joey is so grown up already. He got his bike yesterday which thankfully he's pleased with. It can be quite tricky getting him out of the house and away from the X-Box/PC/tablet, but once he's out there he loves it!

Joey had a very tricky start to life. He was an undiagnosed breech baby, and he basically got stuck on the way out. There was a high chance we'd lose him, and an even higher chance he'd sustained brain damage. That first week of his life, when his organs were failing and he was fitting - they kept him sedated and we didn't know how what was going on - that was not a good time.

He defeated the odds however, and look at him now. Life isn't always easy with my firstborn boy. He struggles with the world quite a lot. He's sad quite a lot. He thinks everyone is against him. But when he's happy - well look at that smile! 
He's more affectionate these days too - we never got many cuddles when he was little but now he's quite happy to be hugged. He is so bright, and he draws amazing cartoons. He is witty and imaginative and amazing. We love him just the way he is. 

Happy Birthday Joey.