Friday 26 February 2010

It's beginning to look a lot like a dress...


The end of my pattern cutting course is fast approaching and I have been making some progress on my dress. Cutting the pattern out in the fabric was quite time consuming. I loved this fabric and used it without thinking about the fact that it has a stripe in both directions which has complicated things somewhat.

Firstly, I naively assumed that the stripes would run parallel, but they didn't, So I had to sacrifice the vertical stripe in favour of having the horizontal one perfect. It took me ages to line up the stripes right for cutting, and one side of the fabric seemed less straight than the other so for that side I had to make a whole pattern piece for ease of lining up the stripes, rather than cut it on the fold. I got there in the end! I also had to try and join the pattern up on the neckline and sides, I won't bore you with the detail there.

I also had problems finding a suitable lining fabric. I wish I'd used coordinating fabric from this range, but left it too late. Proper lining fabrics in the shops felt horribly synthetic and heavier than the voile, so I ended up using some nice 100% cotton sheeting instead, not an ideal colour, but hopefully it won't show.

I have sewn up the outside of the dress now. Learning from past mistakes I have taken my time and tried to enjoy the process rather than rushing through and making mistakes, despite my looming deadline. And I have really enjoyed it, I feel more confident sewing now, also I have made this dress a few times over the last few months in draft form so have had a bit of practise.

The gathered neckline turned out well, I sewed it from the middle to the top on both sides so that I would have it all lined up perfectly in the middle when I joined it to the main dress. It is quite hard to tell the right from the wrong side on this fabric, and combined with doing a french seam, there were a number of panicky moments when I thought I had sewed it the wrong side up. But I don't think I have so far, fingers crossed.

On the advice of my tutor, I used a new smaller (size 70) needle for my sewing machine. I wanted to avoid that problem you sometimes get with lighter weight silky fabrics where you can pull a long thread when sewing. I can't remember the last time I changed the needle on my machine so it was probably quite blunt. Anyway, it worked, no snags.

Anyway, here it is so far, next I must do the same for the lining fabric, and then join them together. I am nervous as anything about trying the finished dress on!

Thursday 25 February 2010

Quilts: 1700 - 2010 exhibition at the V & A

Quilts are everywhere at the moment, every time I open a paper or magazine there seems to be an article on the popularity of craft, surge of sewing machine sales and especially about how cool it is to quilt. With perfect timing, the V & A museum has a major exhibition running from 20th March to 4th July showing 65 quilts from 1700 through to present day. The majority of the quilts will be from the V & A's collection but there will also be some new works by contemporary artists such as such as Grayson Perry and Tracey Emin.

To celebrate the exhibition, the V&A Shop and Liberty fabrics have collaborated on a limited edition collection of printed cottons featuring designs from quilts in the V&A's collections. These are a few of my favourites, it's quite a reasonable way to acquire a few Liberty prints, they have fat quarter bundles too.  If you make it to the V & A, the gift shop there is really good, as is the book shop.