Triumph and Defeat

I just came across this draft from Spring last year – I never published it because I couldn’t bring myself to take any pictures. However, I still think it needs to be heard – especially since I have now made two dresses from this book (one blogged here and one here)and they have both been huge successes (although to be fair they don’t have any sleeves!!)

Anyway…here goes…

Nearly 4 months after receiving Chinelo Bally‘s book for Christmas I plucked up the courage to give something a try. Freehand fashion is a bit of a scary concept. You take what seems like hundreds of measurements. mark some crosses on your fabric calculated from those measurements and then cut away at it. What comes out the other end surprisingly resembles a pattern piece!

I decided to stick to what looked like one of the simpler garments and opted to make the boxy top. I dutifully took all my measurements as described in the front of the book, performed all the calculations needed and then sat down to work. I decided if I was going to do this properly I should work straight onto my fabric (the book does suggest for the wary sewer you can work on paper first and create a kind of pattern piece). I cut out the front and back pieces and got sewing.

The fit was amazing! I guess that’s what you get from working off your measurements rather than a pattern. I so pleased with my triumph at creating a top without a pattern.

Next came the sleeves. This is where everything went wrong. The first set of sleeves I made was so tight I couldn’t even lift my arms up past about 45 degrees. The second set were massive. The set of sleeves I finally stuck with are still pretty huge. I think I am going to claim that as a design choice. Maybe next time I give this a go something will click and the sleeves will be fine but I might just cave and use a pattern piece from somewhere else for the sleeves.

The details:

Pattern: No pattern! Instructions based on the boxy top in Freehand Fashion: Learn to Sew the Perfect Wardrobe – No Patterns Required!

Fabric: Abstract print sateen from somewhere on eBay

Notions: Black Gutermann Sew All Sewing Thread

Alterations: None! It was made to my exact size!

I am really pleased to have given something a go from this book and think it could be really great once I get the hang of it. I think I might start using it to make really great fitting tops and bodices but then add some of the features of my favourite patterns. It seems like it might be more straightforward than trying to tweak the fit of a pattern bodice.

If you enjoyed this sneak peak into one of my less successful projects why not keep up to date with my current makes over on Instagram where I post everything from the wins to the fails and all the progress shots in between.

Have you ever tried something and it not gone to plan? I’d love to hear about it in the comments so that I don’t feel quite so alone in my defeat!

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myspace styke photo in my upcycled top from old jeans

Alteration Challenge

I feel that I am probably a little bit too excited that the Great British Sewing Bee has returned to our screens. In preparation for tomorrows episode I decided to give it a go myself by taking up last weeks alteration challenge. On the show the contestants were each given a denim shirt and asked to create something new out of it.

Well, I didn’t have an old denim shirt lying around but what I did have was an old pair of skinny jeans

old skinny jeans

So those would have to do.

Now all I needed to do was decide what I was going to turn them into, after a while searching pinterest and none of the hundreds of upcycling projects appealing to me I decided to come up with my own plan. I found a top of mine that has a nice shape to it and decided to use that as a pattern template.

Now it was time to begin…and in true GBSB style – start the clock! Oh yes, I was taking this seriously if they have to do it under pressure in the sewing room then so do I!

First step was to cut down the inside leg seam and along the crotch of the jeans to give me the biggest flat pieces of fabric available to work with.

Jeans cut along inside leg and crotch seams

Then I took my top and laid it out on top of the fabric and marked out where the seams needed to be for the front and back pieces. I cut these out leaving a good 3/4 inch seam allowance all round. The fabric wasnt quite long enough to have the front and back pieces as long as the original top – but so what! Crop tops are cool…right?

Use a top as a pattern template
Next I cut off the waistband

So now I had the front and back pieces for my top, I had to decide what to do about sleeves. I decided to use the remaining part of the jean legs. Only problem was they were a bit too narrow. However, in some beautiful coincidence it turns out that they were too narrow by the width of the jeans waistband so off that came and got attached to the side of the leg!

Attach the jeans waistband to the side of the leg

Now I had all the components of my top it was time to begin construction. First of all I began by pinning and sewing the sleeves onto the front of the top, right sides together and sewing with a 5/8inch seam allowance (although this is smaller than I had allowed for based on the original top I thought it best that the top be roomier than the original considering the denim-style fabric)

Pin the sleeve to the front piece         Front piece of top with sleeves attached

I then folded the sleeves over )along the original seam from the side of the leg) and pinned them to the back piece. I attached them with top stitching to keep the feature of the waist band.
Back of top with sleeves attached

Next task was to sew the front and back of the top together at the side seams. Now its beginning to look like a top!
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It was trying on time and guess what it fit! (kind of). THe sleeves were very baggy which I knew they were going to be given the way they looked compared to the original top so I tapered them at the shoulders and cut them both the the same length
sleeve sew from shoulder to edge to form a taper

I then hemmed the sleeves and neckline as well as the bottom. I decided to keep the cropped look as the way in which the jean leg had tapered gave it a nice loped bottom so it wasn’t to short after all.

finished top made from old jeans

Yes I know its a little wonky and the seams don’t quite match on both sides(I bet Patrick and May would have a field day on this one!)but I did it I turned a pair of old jeans into a wearable(ish) top and all in just 2 and a half hours!

and to prove I did wear it here is a terrible (myspace-style) picture as I had nobody to take it for me!
myspace styke photo in my upcycled top from old jeans

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