Archive | July, 2013

Homemade wedding garter, with tutorial

23 Jul sewn wedding garter

Last weekend I was on a friend’s hen do. She is the first one of my close friends to get married, and it was my first hen do, so exciting times! I had the idea a little while ago that it would be nice to give her a hand made wedding garter, as a memento. This idea was cemented when the bridesmaids asked us all to bring a small present for her to the weekend.

wedding garter

I had a vague idea in my head of what I wanted it to look like, and looked up a few tutorials online for some construction guidance. I decided to go for one that used the ribbon as the elastic casing, as opposed to making a separate casing out of fabric which I would then need to sew on.

The garter is essentially a ribbon and lace sandwich – 2 lengths of 1 inch wide ribbon with a wider piece of lace sewn between them, and the elastic threaded through one of the channels that is created by this.

making wedding garter

I went to Masons to pick up some lace and ribbon for the job. And there was SO MUCH LACE. I think it actually took me about half an hour to choose some, and even then, I ended up with about 6 different ones which I ended up buying to try. I knew I wanted something thick enough that it would show on both sides of the ribbon (the other option it to just sew the lace onto one edge of the ribbon), and because of that, I wanted one that was shaped on both edges. I wasn’t sure if stretch lace would work well or not, so I was originally looking for non-stretch stuff, but ended up buying some of both. I did end up using some of the stretch stuff in the end, and it worked fine!

handmade wedding garter

I bought ribbon to match the colour theme of the wedding, in a couple of different widths (I wasn’t entirely sure at this point what width I needed…this was all a bit of a guessing game!) and a little ribbon rose in a similar colour to go on the front. I already had elastic to use, and the construction was actually fairly straightforward:

– If you can, measure the thigh circumference of the person you’re making it for – a little way above the knee is apparently about right. If you can’t measure and don’t want to ask them because a) it’s going to be a surprise or b) you don’t want to sound slightly odd, then guesstimate, or measure your own and hope theirs is fairly similar! As it’s elasticated and gathered anyway, there’s a little leeway in terms of fit.

– To work out the length of ribbon and lace you need, a few of the tutorials I looked at suggested multiplying the thigh measurement by 1.5. I did this, which gave me a measurement of 75cm. Given that my two pieces of ribbon were 1m long (When I was buying them, I forgot that I needed enough ribbon for both sides, and asked her to cut 1m before I remembered I needed another). Knowing that I probably wouldn’t have much use for 25cm lengths of ribbon, I sewed it up with the full metre, and then trimmed it afterwards to where I wanted it. So somewhere between 1.5 and 2 times thigh circumference should work, depending on how many gathers you want. And yes I do realise that I use a complete mishmash of metric and imperial measurements in this post – am I the only one who uses both when sewing, depending on which is the most convenient number?

– Pin the two pieces of ribbon (with right sides, if there is one) out, onto either side of the piece of lace. I did this by laying one piece of ribbon on top of the lace and pinning, and then flipping it over, matching up the second piece of ribbon, and then pinning again, through all 3 layers. I then took out the pins from the first side. You could just pin all 3 at once, but I thought it would be easier to make sure both pieces of ribbon were lined up to each other, and centred on the lace, if I did it this way.

wedding garter construction

– Once your ribbon and lace are pinned, sew two straight seams (or straight-ish), one down each edge of the ribbon. For 1 inch lace, use about a 1/4 inch seam allowance (this allows enough space in the middle for the elastic to go through). It doesn’t matter if the ribbon puckers slightly when sewing the seams, as this will be hidden in the gathers.

– Once they’re sewn, you should have a piece of lace, with a length of ribbon sewn to each side. Next you need to cut your elastic. The general guidance seems to be to take 1 inch off the thigh measurement. I started with that, but did actually end up taking more off later. 1/4 inch elastic is ideal for this.

– Using a safety pin attached to the elastic, thread it through one of the channels created between the ribbon and lace. My lace seemed to have a slight right and wrong side, so I fed it through the ribbon on the wrong side. Before the other end of the elastic disappears inside, use another safety pin to pin that end, so that you don’t lose it. Once the elastic is all the way through, pin the end you’ve just pulled through as well.

sewing wedding garter

It doesn’t matter that the ends of my lace and ribbon don’t match up, as I’m going to trim them anyway.

– Spread the gathers out evenly along the length of the elastic. If you’re happy with the length of the elastic, and how the gathers look then you can sew it as is. If not, you can do what I did and spend half an hour playing around with different lengths of elastic and lace, hold it round your leg and ask your boyfriend if it looks right (to which he answered that he didn’t really have any idea what it was or what it was meant to look like), and eventually settle on lengths for both.

– Sew up each end, to hold the elastic in place, and then, turning the garter so that right sides are together, and making sure it’s not twisted anywhere in the middle – easy to miss when it’s all gathered up, sew the two ends together. You can skip sewing the ends individually first if you like, but I found it easier. Once the two ends are sewn together, trim the seam allowance.

homemade wedding garter

Trying it on for size!

– You should now have a basic garter to embellish as you wish. I went for a ribbon bow on the front, followed by the little ribbon flower which I glued on top (slightly wonky because I stopped to put the lid on the super glue before positioning it properly, and the glue set in the meantime!). Turns out it was a good thing I ended up buying more than one width of ribbon, as I used the narrower one to make the bow.

I forgot to take pictures while making the bow, but this page has some great tutorials for different kinds of ribbon bows – I made the hand tied bow at the top.

wedding garter rose

To make it more personal, I embroidered the bride and groom’s initials onto each tail of the ribbon bow. If you do this, make sure you leave enough space for the letter you’re embroidering, so that it’s not almost falling off the edge like mine is. I thought about re-doing it, but… I’ll know for next time!

wedding garter initial

embroidered wedding garter

Once you’ve finished your embellishments, you have a lovely hand made wedding garter. Whether it is a gift, or for yourself, it’s a really nice personal touch. And a really quick and easy sewing project as well! I have a few more friends who have got engaged recently, so I can see myself making a few more of these in the future.

sewn wedding garter

finished wedding garter

Slightly fuzzy picture, oops, but unfortunately it’s the best of the on-leg finished ones I have! Thanks to my friend Clare for modelling it.

And now that holidays and hen-dos, and urgent related sewing projects are out the way (not that that is a good thing), I have some time to get on with making some more dresses, it feels like its been ages! I’m currently working on a tank top plus added skirt creation, with my lovely giraffe print fabric from Walthamstow, so hopefully I’ll have something to show for that soon!

Giraffe print fabric

GIRAFFES!!

Pattern giveaway coming soon!

18 Jul

Yesterday my blog got its 1000th hit! I am delighted! Thank you all for reading, and for all your lovely comments – they make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside :) when I started this blog, I never imagined that within a few weeks I’d have had so many views.

I had planned on doing a little pattern giveaway to thank you all once I reached 1000 hits, but thanks to all of you (and this is no bad thing!), it came round slightly quicker than I’d anticipated, and I’m not at all ready!

So, there will be a pattern giveaway very soon, maybe once I hit 1500 views. In the meantime, please do keep reading!

Now that the ‘get everything done in time for holiday’ panic is over, I’m starting to get excited about new projects. I spent a lot of time on holiday eyeing up people’s clothes thinking ‘ooh, I want to make something like that!’ Most of them were lovely summery clothes, which would be perfect to have right now…of course by the time I get round to making them, our heatwave will probably be over, and I’ll have to save them for our next summer, which will probably be in about 6 years’ time! But that’s not stopping me from making long lists of things to make!

I’ve had a busy week this week, with no sewing time, other than a couple of small projects as gifts. Next week, I think I’m going to go into full on sewing mode again, I just want to have more clothes to wear that I’ve made! Already, I want to have a home made dress for every special occasion – I’ve got a wedding to go to in a couple of weeks’ time and would love to make a new dress for it, but I just don’t think I’m going to have time unfortunately. What do you all have lined up for your next sewing projects?

Back to work for me now, I’m counting down the hours until I can escape into the sunshine! Have a great sunshine and sewing filled weekend everyone!

Finished (and tried and tested!): Bombshell Swimsuit

16 Jul

Finally, some photos of my finished Bombshell!

Closet Case Files Bombshell Swimsuit

I LOVE this swimsuit, and I love this pattern!

Closet Case Files Bombshell Swimsuit

Ouch, sunburnt legs!

I really enjoyed sewing this, and the pattern and instructions were really easy to follow. Given that this is only the second item of clothing I’ve sewn, and I’ve never sewn with stretch fabric before, I was really please at how quickly and easily it came together. I also really love the shape and the cut of the swimsuit, and the extra coverage it provides, particularly as the places that I seem to catch the sun most on holiday are all around the edges of my bikini bottoms – this covered all those bits up nicely. And I just think it looks great!

My measurements put me spot on the size 10 of the pattern. I made a toile of the lining to check fit, and also see if I needed to shorten the body at all. I decided to shorten it by about half an inch, just at one of the shorten/lengthen lines. I didn’t bother shortening the outer layers at all as I figured I’d just end up with slightly more gathering instead!

Closet Case Files Bombshell Swimsuit

I got everything I needed for the swimsuit in Fabricland in Reading. I think the fabric cost me about £4.99/m, lining £5.99, and swimsuit elastic for a mere 8p/m! I think that, in all, the swimsuit probably cost me about £20 to make. And given the I couldn’t get. Decent bikini for that price when I was looking, I’d say that’s a bit of a bargain!

The bikini cups – man those things caused me problems! I bought some when I bought my fabric – it was a little hard to tell in the shop what size I needed, but got some that looked about right. But the shape of them was just…weird. They were way too shaped and pointy, and there was basically no way that they were going to fit me. I had a look in all the other local shops I could, but couldn’t find any more anywhere (they all had multiples types of shoulder pads, but no bra pads!). So I decided to try and get a bikini top from a charity shop and dissect that. That wasn’t easy either – most charity shops only seem to sell bikinis if they are new and haven’t been worn, which means there are very few available! Finally managed to get myself one for £3, which I proceeded to chop up.

IMG_0122

Seriously, what on earth is the shape of those cups all about?!

These ones were much better. Had almost as many issues pinning them in place (carefully!), and I then couldn’t get my fabric to ‘smoosh’ flat so that it moved with the cup. I eventually gave up/got it as good as I could, and sewed them in. They look fine, but I discovered when I wore it that I’ve actually sewn them in a bit low. I also think I could do with a bit more support in there. Unfortunately, one end of the gathering thread snapped, after I’d finished the edge and put the elastic in. I didn’t have the time (or the inclination) to take the elastic out again so that I could re-do the gathering, so I tied it off and hid it with the bust tab, and just hoped it held up! I think I’m going to completely re-do the bust when I get time. Looking at the photos, I realise that it looks fine, but I just wasn’t overly happy with how it felt when I was wearing it.

Closet Case Files Bombshell Swimsuit

I decided to encase the crotch seam on the swimsuit, which Heather Lou gave some instructions during the sewalong on how to do if you wanted to. I wasn’t bothered about how it would look inside, but I knew it would probably annoy me when I was wearing it. I couldn’t quite figure out the instructions initially, but I got my head round it in the end. It looked something like this when it was sandwiched together before I sewed the crotch seam.

Closet Case Files Bombshell Swimsuit construction

Front piece – lining side up, back piece – outside side up, front crotch – right side down.

The only slight change I made from the pattern instructions was to add a bit more stretch into the elastic at various points. I originally did one of the leg holes with the 70% suggested (after a section with no stretch), but when I tried it on, but buttocks just did not feel ‘cupped with love’ as promised! So for the other leg, I took an extra 4cm of the elastic once I’d marked 70%, and that felt much better, so I ripped the first one out and re-did that the same. I also realised that I’d topsitched the first one when I shouldnt’ have, as it’s done all in one go later, so I corrected that as well. I did add stretch to the elastic around the top – about 80%, as suggested, although it did stretch slightly more as I was sewing it. I kind of wish I’d put a bit more in, especially under the arms, as it felt a little loose. Having said that, I didn’t notice so much when I was actually wearing it on holiday, so perhaps it was just me being overly pedantic when I was making it!

Closet Case Files Bombshell Swimsuit

The straps on my swimsuit have also stretched a bit as I’ve worn it, but I think that’s due to my fabric. Unusually (I think), my swimsuit fabric is actually thinner than my lining fabric. I might re-do the straps with lining as well, to make them a bit more resilient.

Closet Case Files Bombshell Swimsuit

This was going to be a dive, but I bailed at the last minute and it turned into a slightly painful shin and boob-flop.

True to the name of the boat, we did see some dolphins on the trip, swimming along the bows. Unfortunately, my camera chose that moment to completely mist up on the inside of the lens, so all of my photos of them are just a big blur :(

I really put the swimsuit through its paces on holiday – swimming in the pool, the sea, jumping off boats, snorkelling, floating round in a giant rubber ring…and I’m pleased to say it held up really well! And Marcus did a wonderful job of capturing all the escapades on camera. Incidentally, I love having a waterproof camera!

Closet Case Files Bombshell Swimsuit

Closet Case Files Bombshell Swimsuit

The suit is an absolutely perfect fit, although it’s not one to put on in a hurry/when your skin is already damp/you have slightly burnt patches around the bum area – I did find myself having to wriggle into it rather, I don’t think my seams have much stretch in them, and the gathering makes it a bit hard to pull on from the outside! Fits like a glove once it’s on though!

Closet Case Files Bombshell Swimsuit

I may look slightly like a drowned rat, but the swimsuit is still holding up! And yes there were water slides on the boat we went on.

I am also really pleased with my overlocker, which I used to do most of the seams on the swimsuit – it works beautifully, and I can see myself getting a lot of use out of it. When doing the centre and side seams on the back pieces, you end up with one overlocked seam on top of another one. When I did the centre one, I realised I hadn’t lined it up close enough when doing the second one, and as a result, some of the first one was visible in the seam on the outside. I fixed this by just going over the seam again, a bit closer. It happened a bit on the side seams as well, but I didn’t bother going over again – I didn’t want the seams to get too chunky, but they’re also pretty much hidden by the gathering on the outside.

As well as the swim suit, I used the overlocker to do a rolled hem on the edge of the chiffon I’d bought to make into a sarong. It was really easy to set up to do the rolled hem – about 4 hours before we needed to leave, I sat down to try and figure out how to work it, less than half an hour later it was all finished! I used a drop of seam sealant on the corners to stop the edges coming undone. This held up well, and provided me with a little protection from the Greek sun!

Closet Case Files Bombshell Swimsuit

And now unfortunately I am back home, and back at work, and despite the fact that it is (unusually) hot and sunny here at the moment, our office is so highly air conditioned that I sit there with goosebumps! Oh to be back on the beach again! Luckily I have another excuse to wear my swimsuit this weekend, and if the sun decides to hang around for a while (fingers crossed!), it will see a good few outings more this summer.

As an aside, I even managed to have matching toe nails and swimsuit this holiday! Quite by chance actually, my sister, who is a beauty therapist, did these gel nails for me a few weeks before we went away, before I’d even bought my fabric! A month on, and they’re still looking great! If any of you happen to live down in the Christchurch/Lymington/Bournemouth area, and want any waxing, manicures, pedicures etc doing, do look her up at Pure Mobile Beauty Therapy – she’s just handed in her notice for her part time job to do this full time, and I’m a little bit proud of her :)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And if you need any more convincing that you want to sew a Bombshell, you can see all the other beautiful Bombshells which have been created over on the Flickr group.

chinelo bally

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