Sunday, 29 September 2013

How to make a bow fascinator

One of my favourite things about going to a wedding, aside from getting to catch up with friends or family and generally celebrating the happy occasion of course, is the chance to get dressed up - and for me that has to include some kind of head-wear. I don't know whether it's because I have short hair so can't really experiment with different hairstyles for special occasions, or just because I want to be a bit theatrical sometimes, but a wedding outfit just wouldn't be quite right without a fascinator or hat. They tend to be expensive though, so I've taken to making them myself for the last couple of weddings I've been to, and today I thought I'd share with you how I made this pretty bow fascinator/headband for a wedding that I was at on Friday...

There are probably already other tutorials online for making something similar, but sometimes I find it helps to read things written in a different way, so here's my version:

Start out with 3 rectangles of fabric, one for each bow and one for the 'knot' in the middle. 

My large bow piece measured 35 x 15 cm, the small bow measured 22 x 13 cm, and I ended up cutting the 'knot' down after taking this photo, so in the end it was about 4.5 x 10 cm.

Fold the large bow piece in half, right sides together, and sew down one short edge and down the long edge, then turn right sides out. 

Repeat with the other bow piece and the knot piece.

Take the large bow piece, and fold the ends over so that they meet in the middle, with the finished edge on top:

By hand, sew a loose running stitch down where the two ends join...

Then pull the thread through to gather the material up into a bow shape.

Secure the end of the thread, then repeat the whole process with the smaller bow piece.

Place the two bows on top of each other and secure together with a couple of stitches - this is just to hold them together while you add the 'knot'.

Wrap the 'knot' piece around the middle of the two bows, with the two ends meeting at the back with the finished end on top. You will probably need to cut some length off the raw edge - I prefer to have too much and have to cut some off than not have enough!

Sew the ends of the knot together by hand, and that's the bow finished! Ta da!

Now all you need to do is attach some elastic. I find it's best to just tie the elastic to the right length on your head - that way you can work out just how tight you would like it (and I have a massive head, so if I gave you a measurement based on what I used, it would probably be too big for most people!).

Tie the elastic into a knot, and sew the knot onto the back of the knot on the bow. This doesn't need to be too neat (as you can see, mine definitely isn't!) because you're about to cover it up.

Cut a small piece of felt (other fabric would be fine too, just with felt you don't have to worry about edges fraying) to cover the elastic on the knot and glue on (I used Gutermann creativ HT2)

And you're done!

Here's a picture of me wearing mine at my friend's wedding this weekend.

If you make your own versions, I'd love to see them!

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Pattern Runway Easy Short Sleeved Dress

Here's my latest completed dressmaking project - an Easy Short Sleeved Dress from Pattern Runway.

This project involved a few firsts for me - for a start it's the first dress that I've made. It's also the first time I've used a PDF sewing pattern. I was slightly worried that it would be tricky to get all the pieces together so that they matched up properly but it was so easy, and it's a lot quicker to download a PDF than to go out to a shop and buy a pattern or wait for one to be delivered in the post. 

Having spent the time getting my pattern all nicely sorted, this was also the first time I've altered a pattern. My bust and waist measurements were just the same as the measurements for the large size on the pattern, but my hips were a good few inches bigger (oh the joys of being pear-shaped!) and I didn't want things getting tight in that area, so I drew my own line out from the waist to add just a little bit extra round my hips, like this...

Possibly not the most professional or exact approach but it worked so I'm happy. Other than that, I didn't make any changes to the pattern and it all came together fairly easily - I can't remember anything causing me any major headaches anyway so it must have been OK. Another good project for beginners if anyone else out there is thinking of having a go at making their own clothes.

The material is a cotton poplin that I got half price in John Lewis the other week - bargain! It's peacock blue, which is one of my favourite colours so when I saw it was in the sale I thought it had to be bought.

Looking at the photos, I think maybe it would be better in a fabric with more drape but I still really like it, and I made it to wear out for dinner for a friend's hen party and got plenty of compliments (even from people who didn't know that I'd made it wasn't just my friends being kind!) so it can't be bad.

I'm busy planning what my next garment might be now, there are so many lovely patterns that I want to try - I feel like I'm spoiled for choice at the moment!

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Colette Laurel Top

Here's my latest finished project - a Colette Laurel top.

Having made two skirts already, I thought it was time I tried to make something for my top half. I think part of me had been putting this off because I was a bit scared about the fact that a top involves much more need for fitting than a twirly skirt, and when I was on my dressmaking course, this seemed to lead to quite a lot of problems for my fellow students. With this in mind, I decided to abandon my usual need to have things finished quickly and make a muslin out of an old sheet to check everything was OK. I cut a 12 and (luckily!) it all seemed to fit fine without any alterations so I set to work on the "proper" version of the top.

Sadly I think the muslin may have fit me a little better than my finished version but I think it fits fine still so it's all good! The instructions were really good for a beginner like me, so it was no trouble to sew it all together and I got through all the steps reasonably quickly. 

The fabric is a cute blue and white floral cotton that I got from Fabric Godmother a while ago, it was originally for another project but I think it works well for this top - and I'm happy with how the white bias binding works with the floral print, especially the pretty lace-edged binding I used on the sleeves.

Overall, another project I'm happy with! I wasn't 100% convinced when I first finished it so I put it on and wore it straightaway in the hope that that would help me make up my mind (otherwise it would have been likely to hang unworn in my wardrobe for months because I'd never have been sure about it!) and I'm happy to say that it worked - it's a definite thumbs up now, and I quite fancy making one of the dress versions of the Laurel pattern soon.

And now I'll finish with a plea for help - has anyone got any tips for taking photos of my dressmaking projects? Either in terms of the technical photography stuff or how not to feel (and therefore look) embarrassed while you're taking the photos...

I'm quite keen on photography but don't generally like pointing the camera at myself so any pearls of wisdom would be very welcome!

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Pom pom flowers

On a recent charity shop trip I acquired a nice tall vase. So tall, in fact, that it won't fit in any of my cupboards meaning it has since been sitting somewhat forlornly in my living room crying out to be filled with something pretty. Obviously there are lovely flowers that I could buy, but this vase really needs the tall, dramatic type flowers that always cost that bit more than I would like to spend on something that's going to have wilted and need to be replaced within a week. So I set about trying to find some nice artificial ones, failed, and came to the conclusion that the best thing would be to make some "flowers" instead. A quick browse of Pinterest later, and pom pom flowers seemed to be the answer - simple, colourful, a bit quirky and cheap being as I have quite a bit of wool left over from various projects.

There are plenty of versions out there (this one and this one were the main ones that inspired me), but here's my interpretation...

As you can probably tell they're really simple - just make your pom poms in whatever shapes and colours you like using your preferred pom pom making method (I might have to try out a Clover pom pom maker at some point, but this time I used the old-fashioned method of wrapping wool round 2 pieces of card), get some appropriate lengths of garden cane, put a little bit of glue (I used my hot glue gun) on the end and hold the pom pom onto the end of the cane for a couple of minutes to make sure it sticks...

That's all it takes! 

Here's my "bouquet" and the no-longer-forlorn vase in all their glory...

Simple but effective I think! I might have to make some others in different colours and alternate them, but I've got a couple more projects in the pipeline that need to be finished before I get round to that - watch this space!