Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Simplicity 1589 Loose Top

It's been a while since I've done any proper sewing so I decided it was time to dip my toes in the home-sewn waters again. I wanted to make something that would gently ease me back into making my own clothes again so I picked the Simplicity 1589 'Learn to Sew' pattern. There were 2 options to choose from and I opted for view B. I wear these style of loose sleeveless tops quite often, paired with skinny jeans or slim leg trousers.

Even though I have a pretty hefty fabric stash, I still didn't have anything suitable to make this top out of. I managed to pick up a metre of fabric on Ebay for £3.95. It's a polyester/rayon mix, nothing too fancy but a good fabric for this style of top and cheap enough not to worry about if I mess it up. It's quite a sheer fabric so a top worn underneath is required (unless you're feeling brave).

The pattern was clearly marked out and the instructions really easy to follow. I didn't need to make any alterations to the pattern as I found the pattern true to size, I normally wear an 8-10 on top and I cut this pattern on an 8 and it fits great. It's quite a loose fit with plenty of ease so you could easily go down a size if you wanted. 

Having read other bloggers reviews on this pattern, I didn't find it that quick to so up, It was easy and straightforward however. My fabric was a little unstable and tricky to work with and I am quite a slow sewer, having had experience of rushing things, making mistakes and then having to un-pick my stitches countless times has definitely taught me to sew with 'more haste less speed', and anyway it doesn't matter how fast you can sew it's how good the finished thing looks at the end.

Overall I'm pretty happy, not my best sewing, but not my worst either. It's holding together and resembles a top much like on the pattern sleeve so I think I did a good job!
I think I'm going to try out top A from the pattern too, but am undecided on whether I like the open back our not? I think this style will be more wearable as I can wear it loose with jeans, and shorts in the summer, or have it tucked into high waisted skirts or trousers. I may piece the pattern pieces together and cut the back as one piece without the cut-out detailing...then again I may make both versions!
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Thursday, 2 October 2014

DIY Kimono Shirt

Often when second-hand shopping it's the fabric that draws me in first, prints, colours or textures. This is how I stumbled across the shirt I used in this DIY. I loved the colour and the beautiful devoré fabric, it really reminded me of the beautiful Kimono jackets I had seen on the high street and in vintage boutiques. It was a size 14, too long in the sleeves and too big and shapeless to wear as a shirt, but I knew it had potential to be customised into a loose, flowy Kimono-style jacket.

It's not a massive transformation but the shirt has been transformed into a more wearable piece with a few additions and adjustments.
I started by snipping off the buttons, turning back and sewing the cuffs and then adding some fringing to the bottom of the shirt.

I wanted to add some ribbon to the shirt too, going down the front edges and around the neck...but it didn't quite work out. After pinning, sewing and un-picking a handful of times...I decided it wasn't to be. I just couldn't get it to sit right no matter how hard I tried or how ever many ways I tried it. The shirt fabric was to delicate and flimsy for the more rigid ribbon. Ideally a bias tape or some satin cut on the bias could have worked but I was trying to use-up what I already had.

So with that in mind, after that I simply turned the front of the shirt edges in on themselves where the buttons and buttonholes had been to bring the edges in line to the end of the collar. I'm pretty pleased with this project overall. The fabric was a but tricky to sew neatly as is was so delicate and not very stable but I think it turned out okay. It's definitely a piece I will get a lot of use out of and enjoy wearing, even in the cooler months as it can be layered up with long sleeved tops underneath.
As much as I love the challenge of completely transforming a garment into something unrecognisably different from how it was originally, a quick fix or tweak is just as satisfying. 

What's your next 'quick-fix' project?
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Monday, 29 September 2014

Conscious Consumer // Bliss and Mischief

I can't quite remember how I stumbled upon Bliss and Mischief, but what a happy little find it was. Bliss and Mischief was founded by Hillary Justin. Her inspiration was the giant cactus tree in her back garden, along with desert colours and striking embroidered details of classic Western kitsch. She began to source vintage textiles alongside re-vamping and re-designing classic pieces. Bliss and Mischief offer one-of-a-kind pieces from modern designs using vintage fabrics to original, custom and handmade chain stitched designs. As well as the ooak items, there's also an offering of small run vintage classics such as antique Japanese Kimonos and vintage tee's, amongst others.

I love the idea of mixing the old with new, something which I often put into place through the details within my home, and the clothes in my wardrobe. Bliss and Mischief is the perfect mix of contemporary and nostalgia, it embraces garments which have been loved and lived in, even the little imperfections that they may carry. Each piece is unique and is inspired by everything from the California desert to her own personal inspirations from her childhood and teenage years. 
“I felt good wearing something that added to my individuality,” remembers Justin,” and that is my same mentality now.  The idea of creating something that is special and limited still feels important to me."
Bliss and Mischief's 1st collection, 'The face of the desert', is made up of dusky pink and peach tones with off white hues, indigo denim and khaki offerings. The embroidered detailing also reflects this colour pallette. I'm honestly in love with everything. The pieces are so wearable and versatile and the embroidery....amazing. I love the way that the vintage garments tell one story and the embroidery that embellishes it tells another, so beautiful.

The denim that Bliss and Mischief use is all vintage. Classic Levi's 505 and 501 jeans are selected and embroidered using traditional western embroidery methods, from hand drawn patterns. I think my favourite item (if I had to pick one....which is very hard) is the Shadows of Mountains Denim, the placement of the embroidery and the colour pallete really draw me in...but at $598... they're slightly (massively) out of my price range *sigh*.  A lot of the collection is out of my price reach to be honest, but I can admire it from afar and think 'one day...' right? These pieces are beautiful though and are designed to be cherished and kept, real investment pieces. B and M definitely offer something different to any other brands and designers I've seen who use reclaimed textiles and garments. If I could afford any of these pieces, I would definitely need to get a bigger wardrobe.
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Monday, 22 September 2014

Conscious Consumer // Zady

Zady is a shopping platform and lifestyle destination for consumers who care about the origins of the items they purchase. Zady was co-founded by Soraya Darabi and Maxine Bédat with a vision to combat the fast-fashion craze. Zady provides a destination for consumers to purchase high quality goods, that are timeless in style, from brands and designers who offer complete manufacturing transparency. 

Zady have partnered up with non-profit organisation The Bootstrap Project, who's mission is to empower individuals to overcome poverty and preserve heritage craft traditions. With every purchase made on Zady, The Bootstrap Project will receive 5%, meaning an artisan launching a small business in the developing world will be provided with the funds they need to grow their business and restore their traditions. 

To make their site user-friendly, and quick to understand for shoppers on the go, they have a badge system. There are 6 badges in total and each badge helps brings transparency into how the item was made. The badges can be found under the 'Why It's Special' section under each product listing. They range from 'locally sourced', 'high quality' and 'the Bootstrap Project' to 'made by hand' and 'sustainable'. Zady is a U.S based and also has a 'made in the USA' badge.

What I love about Zady is that there's also an origins map that shows you the roots of all the products sold on the site, so you can see exactly where everything comes from. If you click on a product item on the map, it will show it's history through lines. For example, a Bimbi Painted Wood Bowl is made from sustainable mango wood from India, where the product is also made, but the company's headquarters (Nkuku) are in South Devon. Both the badges and the Origins map makes the supply chain of products more transparent and having them enables you to have more of a connection with what you are buying, you're not just simply buying a 'thing' you're learning about the 'where' and the 'why it's special'. But not only do Zady give you the 'where' and the 'why' they also give you the 'who'. Who's behind the product and the label and what's their story. What inspires them, why they do what they do, how they started out. I think it's empowering to make informed choices and feel connected to a story behind the product.
 Think of the things in your home and your closet that you just refuse to give up. Generally it’s the story about the product that makes you want to hold on to it. Just imagine how great it would feel if our closets only contained those type of products.
You can read more about why Zady was set up here and how we consumers, together, can have an impact. Their website also has some great features to read up on like modern heirlooms, learning to be more mindful with our shopping habits, opting for pieces that could last a lifetime, searching out quality and investing in key pieces. It's an interesting read, I recommend a look if you get the chance.

So this post has become rather wordy! Here's a few of my favourite clothing and accessory pieces from their site :


Row 1 (L-R) Plaid Boyfriend shirt by Cynjin, The Lucy Black Jeans by Imogene + Willie, Vintage Ringer Tee by LNA 
Row 2 (L-R) The Lucy Blue Ridge by Imogene + Willie, Salli Top by Won Hundred, The Lucy Indigo by Imogene + Willie
Row 3 (L-R) Triangle Ring by Phyllis + Rosie, Tokyo Bag by The Good Flock, Nautical Stripe Lucas Backpack by Stone + Cloth

I pretty much live in my skinny jeans and the shirt and ringer tee are perfect for layering up together through autumn. Stripes are really not something I'd typically go for but the Salli top kept drawing me back in. I'd probably pair it with some black skinnies, heeled ankle boots and a statement silver necklace, maybe throw on a leather jacket for good measure. The Tokyo bag is great for day to day use and is that versatile tan colour that will go with anything, which is a great investment piece.

Aside from womenswear and menswear, they also have a 'Gifts' and 'House & Home' section. Here you will find dog collars and leashes, stationary and candles amongst other pieces. 

There's not a massive amount of choice of products on Zady at the moment, but they did only launched in August last year so I'm sure that they are steadily growing and are continually on the hunt for more brands and designers to add to their site...which will be fantastic. There are a range of products priced under $100 (about £60 give or take) with some priced up to $475 (£290 ish), so there's nothing 'cheap' on here, but then that's the whole point. The products are made with high quality materials and skills, this is no place for fast fashion. I think Zady is great for empowering you into asking the questions of 'where' and 'who' and 'why' when it comes to the products you choose to buy.
Zady provides an alternative to today's "fast-fashion," as fad demanding consumers buy more and more instead of buying 'good.' We should not be compelled to accept throwaway goods as a way of life; we can instead take pride in the style and integrity of each and every piece we own. 
It's a wonderful feeling to know that you are buying something that's been made with such integrity, but that you're also helping to support brilliant projects like The Bootstrap Project in the process.
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Friday, 19 September 2014

DIY Embellished Army Shirt

I recently shared with you this inspo post on Ethnic Embellished Jackets, and promised you a follow-up DIY... and here it is. I would have ideally liked to use a jacket but I already had this shirt hanging up in my wardrobe and it wasn't really getting any wear so wanted to utilise this. The shirt is quite thick so makes an ideal lightweight jacket for heading into the winter months. I found the Kuchi Afghan belt on Ebay and have wanted to use it for some time, but never found the perfect project for it. After some gorgeous ethnic jackets popped up on my Pinterest feed I thought I could combine the two, influenced from the images I have seen on there and on my recent Inspiration Post. I'm really happy with the way it turned out and you could easily adopt this idea to any shirt, jacket or coat that you already have and could use a multitude of textiles and embellished pieces to create a similar effect.
 All I did was work out where I wanted to put the beaded piece and simply hand-sewed it in place.




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