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Saturday 2 April 2016

By Hand London Victoria Blazer

I first decided I wanted to make the By Hand London Victoria Blazer when I saw this version by Oona Balloona, amazing!  I was fortunate to get a paper copy of the pattern before they sold out.

I made a toile because I'm tall and I wanted to make a waist length version.  I added 5cm's and was pretty happy with it.  The pattern is really easy to follow and a joy to make.  It was really quick too, I knocked up the toile in a day, I took my time over the final jacket, I think I spent a couple of days on it.  I did lots of seam finishing, I hand sewed the arm holes and tacked down the collar which took some time.  I think it really shows in the final piece though.

I used a lovely Bluebird Denim linen that I got from Merchant and Mills.  I bought a metre and a half for another project and didn't end up using it, so I was really pleased when I discovered I had just enough to make the jacket.  My cotton mix lining is from Barry's Birmingham.

I really can't stress how lovely it is to work with a good pattern and the By Hand girls know what they're doing.  I made an error with the finishing at the bottom of the collar, I sewed it into the lining, oops.  But I don't mind, I quite like the flattened collar :).

I really love this jacket.  I'm going to make a By Hand Anna top/Charlotte skirt dress to go with it for important work stuff.  I saw a really nice version on the By Hand Instagram feed, so I know it can work well.  I have already got the toile bits cut out, I just need to find the time to put them together :).

Every girl needs a Gerard coat in her life...

I fell in love with the Republique du Chiffon Gerard Coat after seeing a number of cool versions on different blogs, namely Ginger Makes and Cut Cut Sew.  I hadn't made a coat before but I wasn't too worried, I just thought it would take me a bit longer.  I set about reading lots of advice before buying any material.  In particular I read Cut Cut Sew's posts, I was really grateful for the link to this video on creating a lined jacket, which I must have watched 6/7 times.

I bought my lovely wool and red lining from Barry's Birmingham at Christmas, I had been saving the vintage button for a special project, and this was it!

I made a toile, I'm glad I did as I got quite confused with the pattern.  I found it quite difficult to follow because although it's in English, it's very spartan and the diagrams are in French.  I only had access to a paper copy rather than the Pdf while I was sewing which didn't help (I couldn't zoom in on the diagrams).  I persevered and was mostly happy with the toile, I think there are some odd things going on with the inside of the collar, because of my lack of experience I had to make a best guess, but only you and I know about that :).

So then it was time to start sewing!  I decided not to pre-wash my wool, I'd already decided that after putting in all the effort of sewing my coat, I will dry clean it.  For a big item like this I would rather pay the extra cost than run the risk of shrinking my coat.

Perseverance! I think it took me about two months from making the toile to completing the jacket. I probably would have been quicker if I'd been more experienced and had a bit more free time, Christmas got in the way :).

While I was putting it together I realised that I needed to underline my jacket, as the wool and lining were incredibly thin.  I used a double layer of cotton batiste.  I was pretty pleased with it although it's still quite thin, so the jacket is good for spring and autumn wear.  Because of these extra layers I had to make sure I graded my seams.  Some of my seams were still quite bulky to sew, but my sewing machine managed it.

I'm so pleased with this jacket.  It's not perfect, I misread the pattern instructions and didn't make the pockets as I should have, plus my collar issues.  I think it would have been flattering on me if it was a bit longer, and some days I think it's a little too big.  I went for a larger size because I thought I would be wearing jumpers underneath it, but it's too light for really cold weather. However bearing all that in mind, I still love this jacket.  I can wear it with smart work dresses or jeans, and I love the wool and the vintage button.  I would definitely make this again and I have a pile of other Republique du Chiffon paper patterns in my stash waiting to be made up.

Friday 1 April 2016

Inspiration: the Seed Cathedral and Pae White's mobiles

I came across The Seed Cathedral (Thomas Heatherwick) while searching for seed head images, I found the building inspirational and beautiful. The outside looks softly playful, while the inside is intensely detailed and interesting. Feted as a "house of worship for biodiversity at Shanghai's 2010 World Expo" it is constructed of 60,000 light-funnelling fibre-optic rods, each had one or more seeds implanted at its tip. The optic rods were designed to respond to external light conditions, so that movements of clouds and changes of light outside are experienced inside as changes in luminosity. (Time Photos, 2010). I would have loved to have photographed it, experienced the changes of light and detailed seed heads.

Photo's taken from Time Photos online (accessed 21 November 2011).

I also love this work by Heatherwick, a site specific sculpture built above a pool in the atrium of the Welcome Trust building in London. Inspired by the space, the artist explored ways of capturing the dynamic shapes of falling liquids. He experimented with pouring molten metal into water, which created extraordinary and complex forms, no two experiments produced the same results.

I think its a beautiful sculpture and a clever use of space.

It reminds me of Pae White's exhibition at Milton Keynes gallery in 2006. The papercut mobiles, made from cardboard cut-outs, suspended from nylon thread, moved with the disruption of air as you walked by. I thought they were colourful, playful and dramatic as they moved about. They were a very welcome break from a miserable winter's day!

Pae White pictures from Milton Keynes gallery

(post originally posted in 2011)