Street Style Wales

Knitting, stitching, thrifting, crocheting


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The dream Ruby dress

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This dress, the Simple Sew Ruby dress, was a dream to make. It only took a few hours to sew up and, like my previous experience of Simple Sew patterns, the instructions were really easy to follow.

This dress was actually a freebie with Love Sewing magazine but it’s such a great make that the magazine rereleased the pattern a few months ago. I got mine on its original run but stashed it away for a future make. Recently I found some fabric I didn’t have a use for and, on a break from another sewing project, I decided to make it.

I’m glad I did as I really love the shape of the dress and it has a great circle skirt. One major thing I’d change (and should have done differently this time but I didn’t have enough fabric) is lengthen the skirt considerably. I really don’t like the dress length at all and even in the drawings it appears to be short. I think that’s even why I didn’t use the dress pattern straightaway. Looking at these photos I think next time I’ll also lengthen the bodice. I wonder whether other people have felt the need to lengthen the pattern?

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I’m definitely planning to make more Rubies, especially as they’re perfect for the hot weather that we’ve been having lately! I guess next time I’ll order far more fabric to be able to make these changes.


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Strawberry Thief Liberty Emery dress

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I haven’t done any sewing for a few weeks now, what with being in London for work and all, but I did make this beautiful (if I do say so myself) dress before I went. I don’t really know what to say about this dress, except that it’s another Emery pattern, in a Liberty Strawberry Thief print. I really love my Liberty print!

Despite making quite a few of these dresses now, this Emery still turned out differently, even though I followed the same instructions. I’m not sure whether I was a little bit tighter with the seam allowances but this one was bigger in the waist and bodice than any of my previous attempts. Hmmmm.

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I’m also a massive fan of the length of the Emery dress, but the last one was just a little bit too long. So I shortened this one quite a bit and now the length is perfect for me.

I loved working with the Strawberry Thief fabric and I loved that it had quite a straight print as it made me really take notice of how I cut it and of making each part match up. I’m really pleased with how it turned out.

The only thing that’s slightly annoying me is that I made a facing for the neckline. Although I love facings generally, this one seems a bit bulky in the front and needs pressing down. My initial plan for this dress was to make matching bias binding for the neckline and arms, but I cut out the facing before remembering my plan and didn’t really want the beautiful fabric to go to waste. I think, in the future, I may take it out and try the bias binding option.

Like the other Liberty fabric, this one too is very thin but I’m sure I’ll get a lot of wear out of this dress. Plus, it’s Strawberry Thief! Who doesn’t like birds picking fruit from a tree on their clothes?

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A dress that Pinterest inspired



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If you follow me on Instagram, you may remember I posted about a quirky rabbit print fabric a while ago that I didn’t know what to do with.

The pin that started it all

The pin that started it all

After scouring my DIYs and Crafts Pinterest board, I remembered a tutorial I’d pinned ages ago for a V neck dress. The tutorial was for a maxi dress, but I don’t wear maxi dresses that often, so I shortened it quite easily. The whole tutorial was pretty self-explanatory and called for four rectangular pieces of fabric according to your measurements. Sounds easy, right?

I did have to make some adjustments, mainly to the arms and top, as otherwise the dress would have swamped me (it still needs a belt to give it some shape otherwise it kind of looks like a tent). I brought the arms in a bit, so the dress would have less of a cap sleeve look and brought the top in quite a bit too, but all in all, I really love this dress. It’s so versatile and has a nice drape thanks to the viscose fabric. I also love the V neck shape. And best of all, I can slip it over my head so no need for a pesky zip. Yay!

Anyone else use Pinterest tutorials for ideas? I’d love some more inspiration!

Also, sidenote: the belt was given to me by my Dad who wore it as a 13 year old!!

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Roses are… purple

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This Emery kind of reminds me of a 50s dress. I know that’s the look the Emery is going for anyway, but the fabric is very 50s inspired and seems to suit the pattern well. I initially picked it up as I loved the purple roses on a white background and thought it would make a great summery dress. There are also touches of green around the roses too, which I love.

The great thing about this fabric is that it is great for hiding a few errors. I need to redo the neckline at some point and hem it (I hate hemming!), but I may keep this version longer than the other Emeries I’ve made. What do you think?

I didn’t really love working with this fabric but I think that is because I used Liberty tana lawn for the previous Emery I made and that’s a dream to work with.

This one will probably stay in my ‘to finish’ pile for a little while while I work my way through the other sewing projects I have to do and I’ll hem it on a rainy afternoon sometime.
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The hunt for the perfect peplum top

Two peplum tops DIY

I’m sure you know by now how much I love Pinterest. I use it for general crafting inspiration or for looking up a pattern that I’m thinking of making before I take the plunge.

Lately I’ve been searching for the perfect peplum top pattern: one that isn’t too tight or structured but is a looser, more relaxed fit. Although I really wanted to like Republique du Chiffon’s Marthe top, the fit just wasn’t great at all on me and it was far, far looser than I thought it would be. So I went back to the drawing board and consulted Pinterest.

I’ve found some amazing peplum tops on Pinterest, the best of which I’ve included below. More can be found on my Pinterest board here.

Image via Pinterest. Click for link

Image via Pinterest. Click for link

Image via Pinterest. Click for link

Image via Pinterest. Click for link

Image via Pinterest. Click for link

Image via Pinterest. Click for link

Image via Pinterest. Click for link

Image via Pinterest. Click for link

Pinterest is also how I found out about Cotton and Curls. There are loads of great DIYs on the website, including this one, which I loosely followedThe instructions say to copy a loose, boxy top you already have, so I kind of made it my own with a shop-bought peplum top I love and a bit of self-drafting thrown in.

Blue peplum top

I have self-drafted before and it is tricky to get something right (it’s far easier to follow a pattern). But there’s also a great sense of achievement when something you draft goes according to plan. This first attempt worked out well, although I did way underestimate the measurements of my top and had to add in extra fabric at the sides. This is covered by the busy print though so it doesn’t really matter. The only real problem I had with this attempt is that it is quite short, but I blame that on not having enough fabric to make a longer peplum. It’s still wearable with a high waisted skirt or jeans though and I even made a cute patch pocket to compensate.

Green peplum top

The brilliant thing about making a top is that you can use leftover fabric scraps to make it. I had plenty of this Ebay find left to make a top and could afford to make a longer peplum this time. For this one I wanted to make the sleeves shorter, lengthen the bodice and make it a little smaller. I quite like how it came out and the material is a lot lighter than the previous peplum top, although in hindsight I think perhaps I should have lined it. The fabric is the same as I used in my green gables dress, but I’ve realised that I don’t very much like the feel of it, so it may not be worn as much as I’d planned anyway.

I have plans to adapt this pattern to make a few different peplum tops next, including a long-sleeved peplum top from fabric I bought in London, a more fitted top and a sleeveless version. Any peplum tops in your sewing plans?


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Cloth House, Soho

photo 2Cloth House in central London has been on my radar for a while. I can’t even remember the first time I heard about it. Somehow I just knew it was there, amongst a load of other fabric shops. The best thing about now working in Soho is that I’m only a few streets away from these many fabric shops on Berwick Street and can visit them as much as I like during lunch or after work.

Cloth House is every bit as wonderful as you’d imagine. There are two shops on the same street; the first Cloth House sells a range of more unusual fabrics and a great selection of knits, while the second has a colourful selection of cotton prints and an impressive collection of notions.

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The second Cloth House, at no 47, is by far my favourite shop out of the two. I just love the floral and Liberty style fabric and there’s even a remnants bin where I got some lovely calico (more on that soon!). Every time I go into the shop, I leave with something in my hands which isn’t the best for my bank account but, come on, the fabric is just too beautiful not to buy. I found some lovely plain fabrics in there the last time I went in, which I know will make great Marthe tops. I’ve managed to resist buying them so far, but I will go back for a few metres at some point.
photo 4 photo 5If you’re ever in central London, I suggest a trip to Berwick Street (it’s walkable from Oxford Circus, Tottenham Court Road and even Piccadilly Circus tubes). You won’t regret it.

On a side note, did any of you watch the final of the Sewing Bee? My housemate and I literally whooped when Matt (and his eyebrows) won! Were you happy with the decision or did you want someone else to win?


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Why Pinterest is a great resource for sewing

Screen Shot 2015-02-17 at 15.46.38Pinterest is great isn’t it? I use it for so many things: pinning interesting quotes, outfit inspiration and most of all, for sewing and DIY inspiration.

I’m such a fan of Pinterest that I had to delete the app off my phone as I was always on it. Believe me, you can get too Pinterest-obsessed! Initially I started this DIY and crafts board as a place to store home DIYs and things, but it soon grew to accommodate my obsession with sewing and dressmaking patterns and it’s a great source for all sewing needs.

Below is just a small selection of how useful Pinterest can be for sewing inspiration, documenting and more. I really recommend it as a source for any sewing enthusiasts out there. Oh, and if you want to follow my DIYs and crafts board or follow me on Pinterest generally, please feel free to.

Here is why Pinterest is a useful resource for sewing:

To keep track of sewing patterns you already own:

This one might be an obscure one, but I really recommend keeping track of your sewing patterns in one place. Although I have a shelf space for all my paper patterns and another for the traced versions I’ve already used, it is so easy to check Pinterest when you’re in need of a sewing project and want to know which projects you’re yet to complete. For example, I have a copy of Burdastyle magazine from last year sometime, which I bought for the peplum top on the cover. The magazine isn’t where I can see it constantly and I still haven’t made the top, but by checking my own ‘DIYs and crafts’ board, I’m able to remind myself that I’m yet to make that top.

To document different versions of a pattern:

This one relates to the above point somewhat. Once I find a pattern I love, I like to keep track of the different ways I can sew it up. Pinterest is great for this, again because the patterns are in the same place (and as a visual person it really pleases me to track the patterns by image). Alternatively, if I’m obsessing over a certain pattern and haven’t made it yet, I’ll often look on Pinterest to see how other sewers are making it, particularly if there are different versions.

For sewing patterns I’m yet to buy or make:

This is the obvious one I guess, but it’s still useful to have a place where you keep sewing patterns you want to buy, but haven’t yet. Case in point: This peplum top.

To pin styles of clothing I want to make or for clothing ideas I’d love to copy:

I often go through phases of pinning specific things (peplum tops, co-ords etc). Pinterest is great for this. Additionally, it’s great for pinning clothes from a website that I want to make someday.

To locate online DIYs:

I only occasionally use websites for tutorials, and although I have a bookmark folder on my laptop for DIYs, I find it easier to check Pinterest when I need an easy top or dress tutorial. Seriously, that search bar is great and the site really comes into its own here. FYI, this pattern here is my favourite ever online tutorial!

For help with specific sewing techniques:

Sewing techniques can be a b*tch sometimes can’t they? As much as I love working from patterns, I have found some to be pretty sparse on giving details for some techniques and once I’ve googled how to actually sew a box pleat or whatever, I can then keep a record of it and check Pinterest when I need to revisit the technique.

To document fabric choices etc:

I’m often wowed by a particular fabric pattern and I can sometimes lose the exact location of that fabric (quite easy for a scatter-brain like me) and so at least if I pin the fabric I’ll always be able to find it again. I do try to keep another Pinterest board specifically for pretty patterns but sometimes I’ll pin them here too, especially if they’re relevant to my sewing plans.

For gift ideas:

This one is pretty self-explanatory. Pinterest is a great source for present ideas for your loved ones!

For home DIY inspiration:

Another obvious one, but what is Pinterest good for if not for pinning useful DIYs to brighten up your house?

What do you use Pinterest for? If you have any good sewing-related pins, please send them my way.


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Clarissa Hulse screen printing workshop

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When I was in London last month, I was invited to a screen printing workshop held by the lovely Clarissa Hulse. Clarissa is a textile designer who specialises in home accessories, wallpapers and fabrics. Inspired by colour, her designs are often taken from the nature around her (if you follow her on Instagram, you’ll know that she posts inspirations daily) and her style is eclectic and completely individual.

Rows of silk fabric are lined up in preparation for our workshop

Rows of silk fabric are lined up in preparation for our workshop

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Clarissa's wall of inspiration in her studio

Clarissa’s wall of inspiration in her studio

 

Her studio and shop is in Islington (what a lovely part of London!) and I made my way across the city one morning. There were only a small number of us attending the workshop, which meant it had quite a personal feel.

Firstly, Clarissa talked us through the process of screen printing and told us a little about where she gets her inspiration from. We then watched as she demonstrated what we needed to do and she produced a lovely cushion with colours chosen by a member of her team.

Clarissa explained the process of screen printing to us before we began

Clarissa explained the process of screen printing to us before we began

We each chose a fabric for the front of our cushions, a contrasting fabric for the back, a design and paint colour. I chose to make a maroon cushion, with a turquoise back and turquoise paint. There were many prints to choose from, but I stuck with a small floral design that had caught my eye as soon as I saw it.

Clarissa explained that we could do an ombré design if we wanted or print onto the fabric with two different paints, but I went for the simpler option of just using one paint colour as I felt it would look better on my cushion.

We then printed onto our fabrics, with her team giving us a hand so we did it properly and literally watched the paint dry for a minute or so. Once it was dry to the touch, we hung the cushions up to dry further, ready for them to be sent off and sewn.

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Printing the design onto the cushion and backing fabric

Printing the design onto the cushion and backing fabric

A close-up of my design

A close-up of my cushion

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The finished cushions, hung up to dry

A couple of weeks later, my cushion arrived, all ready and looking great. The best part of doing the workshop was that I had something pretty that I had made to decorate my home with.

I had such fun at the workshop and, although I’ve never tried screen printing before, I’d definitely like to have another go at it. And now I have another cushion to add to my collection at home.

Keep in touch with Clarissa via her website, her Twitter, Facebook page and Instagram.


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Easy DIYs: Lengthening a dress

IMG_1780Remember this post? Well, I finally got around to lengthening the first dress and I thought that this would also make the perfect Easy DIY feature. It was pretty simple to do and didn’t require much effort, so if you have an abnormal amount of too short dresses, or just one that you’d like to lengthen, then here’s your chance. Let’s get started!

What you’ll need:

IMG_1777-The dress you’d like to lengthen

-Another dress or fabric to lengthen with

-A tape measure

-Fabric scissors

-Pins

-A stitch unpicker

-And, of course, either a sewing machine or a needle and thread

The method:

1. Unpick the hem of the dress you want to lengthen

2. Decide on the length you want your dress to be. It may be helpful to measure it against another dress which you wear often and you know is a good length. Note the extra length down

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3. Measure the width of the first dress (at the hem) while it is flat. Make sure there are no kinks in the fabric when you do this though, as it’ll affect the alterations. I found it easier to do the front and back separately, which gave me different measures

I used a teal dress instead of fabric as I found that the colour matched almost perfectly to my altered dress

I used a teal dress instead of fabric as I found that the colour matched almost perfectly to my altered dress

4. Cut out your fabric (or second dress, in my case) according to the measures you have taken. Look at the original seams of the dress and try to follow suit. For mine I cut out two back pieces and one long front piece. Remember to add an extra inch or so for seam allowances on the side and hemming on the bottom

If your fabric has a slight stretch to it it may help to cut out a template from a piece of newspaper first

If your fabric has a slight stretch to it it may help to cut out a template from a piece of newspaper first

5. Pin the pieces of fabric to the dress (right sides together), turn over and check that you’re happy with it

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6. Sew the fabric to the dress

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7. Once this is done, and you’re happy with how it looks, sew the sides together, creating a seam. Make sure you follow the line of the original seam and, if you find it easier, unpick a few stitches of the original seam to help you

8. All that’s left to do now is to hem the dress and try it on

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Et voila! A dress that was once almost indecent has been converted into a wearable garment once again.


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Vintage hunting: You win some, you lose some

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The other day, I was up visiting my Grandmother and I took some time to look through her nearest charity shops. I find it very exciting to discover new charity shops, as they could, quite literally, sell anything. I hadn’t actually planned on spending any money, so I left the Topshop dress and top I wanted, in favour of spending far, far less money on yet another vintage pillowcase and some buttons. I spent just under £2 in the end, on some potential fabric which I just couldn’t leave behind.

Sadly, I didn’t follow my own advice this time and took the fabric back to my Grandmother’s house to find it was very faded in parts and, worst of all, it has some questionable stains. I’m hoping these are just sun damage, but I can’t make a skirt out of it, or add it to my fabric collection, so it’s going back to the charity shop asap.

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The fabric details are so pretty up close

I could use part of it for smaller craft projects, but I don’t want to because I feel bad. This is because the inside of the pillowcase has a name stitched into it and is something that freaks me out a little (I know- weird, right?). I know that anything bought in a charity shop will have been owned by someone else at one time, but seeing a name stitched inside it is just too weird. I can’t use it and I can’t just throw it either, so I’m hoping it’ll go to someone more deserving.

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Charity shops are usually a great place to look for buttons, like the ones I bought above

Do any of you feel the same way? What have you bought that you wished you hadn’t?