Sunday, 21 February 2016

Creative Costumes the Thrifty Way!

Once upon a time it was only around Christmas that parents and often grandparents had to put their thinking caps on to come up with some costume or other for school, or any other club that their offspring were involved in
How things have changed!
We now get Roman day, Medieval day, World book day as well as Nativity plays and days when a child can pay something into a charity fund and then wear a costume of their choosing. Now don't get me wrong, especially where learning history is concerned, I do think getting into character does help events stick in your mind, but I do sometimes think that it's getting a bit out of hand.
Since Christmas I have made, or at least almost made six costumes , and we're not even at the end of February yet!
It's okay for people like me who love nothing better than designing and making things, and who have a ready supply of fabric and patterns and what's more time! However for parents who both have to work, what a nightmare it must be! The temptation to go out and buy costumes that will probably never be used again must be very tempting, so here's my guide to making something for nothing.

Sheeting...... My go to fabric with loads of uses.

To start with its extra wide so a metre goes a long way. It comes in masses of colours. Unwashed it is quite firm, but give it a rinse and it drapes quite well. And of course charity shops are a brilliant source for sheets for very little money and often they are in prints as well as plains.

So when you need a cape, a long dress or tunic it's the perfect fabric.

This Grim Reaper outfit was made for a Halloween costume, so not strictly for school. The pattern I used was for a hoodie which I printed off the Internet for free. I merely lengthened it and  tapered the sides out towards the bottom to give room to move. I made the hood a bit bigger and more pointed towards the back. It took one metre if sheeting which I got from EBay for £3.99.
But the best bit was that when a Harry Potter outfit was needed, I just cut the robe down the front to turn it into school gown. I did line the cut edges  and the hood with some burgundy sheeting, but they could just as easily have been simply hemmed.

The scarf was a remnant of fleece with some tape sewn at intervals to represent the stripes. Grandad found a wand like stick and just polished it up with some briwax.

The Peter Pan costume was for World book day. The green tunic made from an XL mans tee shirt! Loads of these in charity shops for a few pence. The neck ribbing could just be cut off and a small slash made down the centre front so that the sides fold back. Again, I made a collar, but it wasn't really essential. The cap was made from an old felt coat, and the feather from a piece of child's craft felt just cut to shape and cut all around its edges. We had some old green tights which we cut the feet off and hemmed to the right length and school plimsolls would have been just as good. I make children's slippers which I used to sell, so I had some mock suede to make his boots from.

This Zombie costume was literally made from several old white tee shirts, cut into bandage widths and sewn on top of a long sleeved top from Primark, about £2. The leggings were made from a free pattern again on the Internet and the jersey was a remnant off the market for a few pence.
Of course we are very lucky that the boys mummy (no pun intended) is a bit of a whizz with the make up. I think he scared a few people on his way to school!

This costume again started with the black sheeting. A full circle with a hole to put his head through and then raggy strips of old white tee shirt and the black sheeting to represent the feathers. Black leggings were again mine with feet chopped off. We did buy the yellow socks and found the feet on ebay for a song.

Not to be outdone our youngest grandson has also started his journey into dressing up.

Cut up man's shirt, tea towel and a remnant of faux suede for a waistcoat made this a very economical outfit.

Here cheap tee shirt and leggings, black gloves, socks (his own) and pants with just an orange hairband as belt and pieces of craft felt made into cuffs and mask. Another free pattern on the Internet. I made the badge on my embroidery machine, but it could just as easily have been drawn on a piece of fabric with paints or felt tip pens.and then tacked onto the tee shirt.

So as you can see with a little bit of imagination and a few cheap bits and pieces its quite possible to make something very effective and unique!

Hope this has been a bit helpful if you're trying to come up with some ideas.
 I'm off now to finish a medieval knight and a tin man.

PS. Well that turned into Medieval Knight, Tin Man and Stick Man, as youngest decided he would dress up for World Book Day after all.....

But for once no sheeting! Instead all the outfits were based on long sleeved tee shirts and leggings, readily bought at places like Primark.
The Tin Man had an added jerkin made from fake silver leather which I also used for the funnel hat.
The Knight is just grey tee shirt and bottoms, which can be worn again, with a tabbard and a separate hood covered in a cheap mesh fabric for the chain mail.
The Stick man is simply the long sleeved tee shirt and leggings decorated with wood 'knots' and felt leaves with a bit of soft wire sewn between the double layer of felt to make them stand up and a pill box hat again with the felt used to create the look of knotted wood.
I made all the tee shirts and leggings, again because I had the jersey fabric and have an over locker which means a pair of leggings takes less than an hour to make, but these would have worked just as well with bargain basement tops and leggings,
Its the details that make the outfits really.

Well I am off this time but to catch up on all the ironing that has been left this week while I sew, or else I will be packing for a trip to Scotland with very rumpled clothing.

Have a great weekend and a productive week

Jenny xx

Sunday, 14 February 2016

What a Super Swap

A few weeks ago I signed up for 'Mad About Bags' Send a Little Love Swap.

Its quite some time now since I did one of these and I was really looking forward to doing it.

I was partnered with Debbie from Fairy Bluebells Craft Adventure, and I couldn't have been teamed with anyone more perfect.

We are such soul mates, its uncanny the similarities.
We're both from Lincolnshire and love sewing as well as many other crafts. We both love Whitby, in fact we holidayed there last year. We both love hares. We both love vintage. Just before Christmas we both went to Donna Nook to see the newborn grey seals....the list goes on....

And then last week an exciting parcel arrived...Oh generous is this lovely lady.

I love it all and and she has summed me up to a 'T'. The beautiful cupcake soap and the  love heart candle are now adorning my bathroom, the hanging hearts and my most favourite thing of all the rose decorated giant peg is in my sewing room.
I already have ideas for the fabric and trims and of course the sweets wont last much longer,
I've just run out of my Belle and Boo note cards, so now I have some lovely replacements with beautiful flocked hearts on. I do like to send a nice note with any parcels I send to friends and family, it makes it so special and these will be perfect.

So thank you Debbie for such perfect gifts and for your generosity and lovely emails, I feel as though I've found a new friend.

Here's a little hint at some of the things I sent Debbie, I think she is going to show them on her blog, The necklace shown is not her actual one as that had  her initial on and I forgot to photograph some of the things before I parcelled them up!

Have a great week, its half term here so we will be having our grandsons. I've got lots of ideas to keep them occupied and by the looks of the weather forecast I'm going to need them if we're cooped up for much of the time.

Jenny xx

Sunday, 7 February 2016

GBSB shift dress by Tess Evelegh

Well, following on from my last post I did it! Cut it all out on Friday afternoon, sewed the main shell and finished it off on Saturday.

The Great British Sewing Bee Shift dress by Tess Evelegh.

I first spotted this in The Sew Magazine insert in their Sew Christmas 2015

I've always loved shift dresses though in my day, the 1960s, they were not so fitted and didn't really suit my much curvier figure. However on spotting this one I knew it was far more my thing.

 Now don't get me wrong my figure has never and never will be as slim or as willowy as the model here, but sometimes a little more shaping can do an awful lot to trim down your proportions, far more than burying it under metres of fabric.
So having printed out and taped together the free pattern I set to to fit it as best I could.

My fabric though was to be a recycled duvet cover I had purchased in a local charity shop. I loved the delicate trellis pattern and the fact that it had a border, which I could use to good advantage as the bottom of the dress.
 I don't claim to be an expert sewer though I am fairly competent and certainly prolific and luckily this pattern didn't take a lot of adjustment.The princess seams made my FBA (full bust adjustment) reasonably easy. Follow the link if you are unsure how to do this. It has been invaluable to me.

Truthfully for my next attempt I will just add a little more ease, for those long hot summer days which we are going to get this year!! However, though a close fit, it does feel good and I swear it does make me feel slimmer.
 As this was a patterned fabric I did try to pay attention to matching  the pattern at any seams where it was feasible to do so. They weren't all successful but for the most part I am pleased.

It was also important to align the darts in the bodice and skirt, which would probably show even more on a plain fabric!

 Finally I lined the dress with some plain cotton which I had bought to make some huge tablecloths and which had already been washed. It was no longer needed and as this was supposed to be a budget/recycled make, it was perfect for the job.

And voila!

It fits like a second skin and will most certainly be one of my go to patterns for the summer........

Thanks Sew Magazine, can't wait to make up another. 

In fact I have this lovely rose printed denim in my stash that has been calling to me for far too long................

Have a happy and productive week. Mine will include a mediaeval knight costume age 4 and a tin man costume age 8, so perhaps shift dress part 2 may have to wait a little!

Jenny xx

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Make do and a fashion!

New Year and a very late first post! I know that for many it has not been a good start, but I hope that any of you devastated by the  Christmas  floods, are getting back to some kind of normality and that you will soon be able to return to your homes and businesses. Our hearts go out to you and wish you a much better 2016.

For everyone else I hope 2016 is going to be fabulous and productive.

So this year I am making no resolutions as such, I'm not much good at keeping them anyway! But what I would really like to achieve is to make more things than I buy. I have so much fabric it's time I started making use of it.

I have to be honest however and say I didn't start the year off too well as I appear to have  acquired one or two things in the sales, but I intend to improve, honest!

So just before Christmas I had a wardrobe cull, sorting out the things I love, that fit, those that never will (why do we buy them!!) and those that really do only need a bit of patience to put them in the first pile.

One of those which might have been thrown out was a dress I really loved but was never ever going to fit me properly.
I am not very tall,  5'3" and shrinking, but I seem to be quite long in the body, so dresses that have an actual waist seam are often too short in the bodice.
 This was one of those so was never going to be perfect. However I did love the style and was loathe to just toss it away.So I decided to take it apart, draw a pattern from the pieces with the added adjustments needed for what I hoped would be the perfect fit, and to remake it in some ponte jersey from my stash.
The original dress was navy and off white stripes and was rather a nice jersey too, so, once I had drafted a new pattern I used some of the original fabric to line the cuffs and make a patch pocket for a Tilly Coco top which I was making.

I am quite pleased with the top, after adjusting the bottom a little as it was too flared for me and making the collar a little deeper. The fun huge button on the pocket is in fact a brooch. I did it this way so that I could remove it for washing and also just to ring the changes.

The new dress made out of a plain brown ponte jersey, did not disappoint. The waist now sits where it should and  I've made it a touch longer. I just love the neckline detail, which looks like a collar but as it's incorporated into the princess seams lays flat whatever  you wear over it.
I think it has a bit of a vintage vibe and with some of my 1940s accessories, It could definitely be a winner at my next vintage outing.

Since then I have been making a few things for Mad about Bags blog swap organised by Tracy.
I drew Debbie and it has been a real joy making something different. We have so much in common it is unreal! I am off to the Post Office with her parcel today. I will reveal what I sent once she has opened it.

Well as I seem to be in a real sewing mood at the moment, my next project is a shift dress which they made on the sewing bee. A free pattern which I've printed off and which I am making from an old duvet cover I found in a charity shop! The print is so pretty and Spring like and it has a border design on the front as well as an all over design on the back so there's plenty of fabric to play with. I'm hoping I can position the border round the hem, so plenty of fussy cutting required. Wish me luck. If it works out it will have cost me £2.50. A bargain.

Jenny xx