30 June 2011

Alteration tips and tricks

I do a lot of alterations in the Theatre. Unless a costume has been specifically made for that particular actor then most of my work involves getting an existing garment to fit correctly.

I will confess that some sewing jobs are a lot more tedious than others so why not use that dry-cleaner for the really boring stuff.

Here are a few of my tips for getting alterations done well
  • When thinking about altering clothes, remember the body has 2 planes- height and width. If altering the width of a garment you may not need to re-fit as this plane is easier to adjust. If you are altering the height of a garment, you will nearly always need to re-fit after the adjustments are made. For example taking up the shoulders will shorten the arm-hole which may then need to be adjusted. Shortening flared trousers for example means the flare is less at the hem, and they may not look as attractive.
  • Trying to make clothes smaller than about 2 sizes involves a lot of alteration time, which if you’re paying someone may not be worth it. If you find a vintage Chanel suit in a charity shop that’s 4 sizes too big, it may well be worth the additional expense. If it’s a Primark dress in the sale, then just leave it on the rail.
  • If something is more than one size too small, it’s very unlikely that you’ll be able to get it let out. Fashion garments rarely have less than 0.5 cm seam allowance, meaning that there is total of 1.5 cm available around the body to let out. Letting out satin or fine fabrics means you may be left with track-lines where the stitching was. Letting out darker fabrics means that you may end up revealing fabric that is a different colour from the faded outside.
  • If you let down a hem and get a strong line where the original hem was, think outside the box. Stitch some ribbon and make a feature of the ribbon whilst disguising the ugly line.
  • Some alterations or repairs are boring to do. Personally I would rather get the tedious jobs like replacing zips done at a dry cleaners. Replacing a zip is fiddly and time consuming and I would rather use the time to make something fun, It’s generally only about £10-£15 to get it done for you. Shortening hems however, is a relatively quick and easy thing to do yourself and not worth paying £10 for.
  • Big jobs that require a lot of space and equipment are often worth getting done by someone else. If you have to clear away your sewing space each time you sew, then the chances are that you’ll never finish that pair of curtains. If that’s the case you can concentrate maybe on the small hand sewing jobs that are achievable.
  • If you want to do a big sewing job but really don’t have the space or a sewing machine, then go to a sewing studio that offers the space by the hour/session. There are lots of sewing schools across the UK that offer space by the hour and it’s a great way to get sewing and not worry about clearing up!
  • Fabric is no longer cheap, and the cost of cotton and wool has just gone up, meaning both our clothes and fabric will soon get a lot more expensive. Think about cutting up existing old garments or curtains to use as fabric. Recently a student of mine used a sarong she bought on her honeymoon to make a yoga mat bag. Something that would have sat in her cupboard is a reminder of her honeymoon at every yoga class.
  • Before you take stuff to charity shops think about whether or not you could re-purpose the item. Taking the waist band off a pair of jeans and binding the edge for example makes them bigger. A pair of old worn out jeans can be opened up and made into a skirt using perhaps an old favourite worn out blouse as the insert.

10 June 2011

Fascinator making tips for the racing season.

Racing season is upon us, and with it the perfect opportunity to go wild with hair accessories!
Ascot is next weekend, so there's still time to rustle up a perfectly wild fascinator

Chrisse King from Hat Therapy has given you some tips on making fabric flowers or YoYo's. YoYo's are also known as suffolk puffs, and are a great way of tying in a colour scheme across your outfit.

Check out this fab suffolk puff fascinator for inspiration from Knit and Purl Stitch

To make a sheer fabric flower/suffolk puff  you will need.

  1. A woven headband (randall ribbons in Luton sell them on black and ivory) tel 01582 721 301
  2. Some fabric you want to use
  3. A dinner plate
  4. A button or bead for the centre
  5. Some hand sewing thread and a needle

Cut a circle, dinner plate size for a larger flower or smaller if not.

Knot the end of your thread and sew along the edge of your fabric.

Pull gently as you sew creating a little bag then secure together with a few small stitches, cut off thread.

Decide what you would like to trim your piece with, here's a few ideas.

  • sequins, 
  • buttons,
  • beads, 
  • another smaller circle in a contrasting fabric
  • ribbon

Starting from the back, pass a threaded needle through to the centre of your flower and start to build up a trim. This will pinch together your sheer fabric in the middle.

Once finished you can attach to your headband by sewing together or pop on a comb or hair clip.

If you want cover your headband cut a piece of your fabric on the bias (across the fabric where you feel the stretch) Pin and sew, turn inside out with a safety pin then push the end of the band into the tube, sew at each end to secure



4 June 2011

Why I'm sacrificing saucepans for sunshine

At the beginning of the year I set out goals for the year ahead. Six months on and one of those goals has not only eluded me, but continues to make me feel that I've failed myself. So I've decided to get rid if it altogether!

Cooking for myself as a veggie has always been important in order to eat interesting and tasteful food. It's been something I've shared with friends, and was a favourite way I used to unwind. I now work fulltime and run a small business, and at least 10 hours of every day are consumed by Working at both of those things. I need at least 7 hours sleep, so when you factor in travelling to and from work, I'm left with little time for myself. I've been trying to carve out time to cook, but the pressure of feeling obligated to squeeze it in us frankly wearing mr down. When I get time out, I want to see friends, go to a spa not slave over s saucepan. I'd love to live the lifestyle of Jamie or nigella, but frankly when they're cooking it's their work, so of course they can fit it in. Cooking isn't just about the actual effort of chopping and heating, there's shopping and ensuring you have what you need in, and even if you do get food deliveries, there's still a time commitment to checking and ordering. Like many of my friends and colleagues, my boyfriend and I seem to spend a great deal of time talking about food shopping, food ideas and all the mundanity of those conversations is just well BORING!
I work weird hours, I work at night, so it's tough to cook when all my food gets heated up at work. Within the covent garden area, I know all the convenience vegetarian foods I can get hold of, and most of my menu comes from pret, marks and Spencer and tesco. They each offer limited vegie options, so my diet has begun boring mr senseless.
Added to all of the above i want to slim down a little, but that means more prep and thought, and cooking time.
I will shortly be signing onto a weight loss food delivery service. I will spend no more than I currently spend on microwave meals, and take out sandwiches. So I'll eat better, free myself from feeling guilty that I'm not a domestic diva, and with the extra hours I gain hopefully I can do more for me.
Since I decided on this plan, I've had a huge sense of a weight being lifted from my shoulders. I'll need a couple of months to slim down, but who knows during that time I may re-discover my cooking mojo!
I still want to have friends over for dinner, but I warn you if you're invited I will have cheated and bought in. I guess for me the point is to see friends and enjoy their company, rather than putting off the invite cos I can't face the kitchen!

Here's to more sunshine and less saucepans!

3 June 2011

What someone's said.

Just had this lovely feedback from someone who attended a skill sharing day I participated in, made me feel all warm!

CL was really lovely. She was patient with me and my daughter (and pal) and explained things really clearly. Even when having to repeat, she didn't make us feel silly or as if we were wasting her time. She made eye contact and didn't patronise which means a lot to me, from someone who is technically very good. I felt like I could take what I had learnt home with me and carry on and develop further too."

Skill sharing is a fantastic way to engage with your neighbours and community and learn from each other. I attended one in Clapton, and it was a great day with tai chi, gardening, reiki, drumming, baking, history and sewing on the menu throughout the day.
Check out wether or not there are events near you, and if not then have a gobar organising one yourself.

Have a fab weekend. I have a day off to attend the wedding of a good friend, and an excited to see her in her dress