Friday, 24 April 2015

Time flies...when you're organising things

Wow. It really has been quite a long time since I have posted on the blog...

This last year has been a little crazy and hectic at times. I am coming to the end of my year as the President of our Ballroom and Latin society, and I will definitely miss it! But I won't necessarily miss *all* of the organisation that has gone along with it.

Since November we have hosted our own competition in Southampton, and then attended  6 competitions across the country; in Bath, Norwich, Bristol, Farnborough, a weekend in Blackpool, back to Bristol again. 

I personally chaired the organisation of the competition in Farnborough where we had over 500 competitors come together for a jam packed day of competing. But it was a thorough success! =)

All of the shiny trophies at Farnborough

Around the same time we were involved in our annual dance show, PureDance. This year we had 3 slots and I decided it would be a fantastic idea to choreograph all of the routines myself... so we had about 3 months of rehearsals 3 times a week. I think I was just constantly either dancing, choreographing or organising dancing!

But all the effort and more than a dose of stress definitely all paid off and we had 3 fabulous looking routines, and we got the chance to showcase our ballroom properly for the first time in PureDance!
PureDance 2015

Some other exciting things that have happened this year include me getting a Ballroom dress!! =) I am still planning on making my own one, but I decided that I wouldn't have enough time to make one before the dance season started. It is so shiny and I love the shaping of it. 
The skirt on it is unfortunately a little too long, I think it has stretched the bodice under all of the weight (I think I measured 15m+ of hem at the bottom), so when I get the time I will be taking that up a bit. Not sure that my sewing machine will appreciate that...

I also have made myself another latin dress, which I will post all about soon hopefully. 

On a non-dancing note (mostly only now that the dancing has quietened down) I am starting to focus back on the house and having a real purge of stuff in the house; clothes, books, old notes, cooking equipment, I'm planning on going through all of it and making sure it's all much better organized and that in general I just have less stuff. 

I completed painting the lounge (a while back now really...) but I think it looks soooo much nicer now, definitely more inviting. 

Hopefully I will get back into the swing of blogging again more regularly now. 


Thursday, 4 September 2014

Latin skirt: using crinoline - tutorial

For my Ballroom Dress (see inspiration here) I have decided that I would like to use crinoline to give shape to the hem of it. But this doesn't seem to be something that is used in tutorials very much (at least not where the crinoline is visible on the hem of the skirt). The look that I am going for is something like this:

I have calculated that a dress design like this is likely to use approximately 30m of crinoline. So before I start on a project using that much material I thought I should definitely try a smaller project using it. 

This is where my Latin Skirt project started, and here is a tutorial of how I made my latin skirt. The choice of fabric for this is also slightly bizarre for me. As I mentioned in my Fabric sneak peak I have a leopard print polyester/spandex blend which I bought a little while ago. This is my wonderful feeling fabric to be used in this project. 

A nice bit of leopard print

The crinoline I am using is 150mm soft boning crinoline from a company called Trim-it which have a great selection of fabrics and trimmings. When it arrived it was a large bundle of crinoline (I hate to imagine what 30m of it will be like to deal with...)

The first task was to iron it out so that the folds are no longer present. Make sure the iron isn't too hot otherwise you might melt the crinoline. I ironed it with a towel over the top. 

skirt_21      skirt_14

Then the method I used was to fold the crinoline in half across its width and sew down the edge (zig zag stitch) - I would now advise doing this in a different colour so it is easier to pull out later. This gives the crinoline a tube like structure instead of having a single layer of crinoline however this is personal preference, I think it looks prettier like that. 

skirt_22    skirt_23

Now you have the crinoline prepared for attaching to the skirt, lets talk about how the skirt was made.

I used a simple circle skirt pattern for this skirt (I have misplaced my measurements atm but I will edit them in when I find them again). 

The length of the skirt was approximately hip to just above the knee as it will flare out/up when the crinoline is added. Cut the fabric into a circle (removing a center section for the waist) I find it easiest to fold the fabric into quarters or 1/8ths to reduce the amount of measuring/marking required.

skirt_2    skirt_1

You will also need a waistband, this I made a simple rectangle (length of waist/hip measurements reduced a little to account for stretch) and about 10" wide (so that it can be doubled over). Then sew the fabric together at the ends (right side to right side) I used the serger as it produces nice seams and copes well with stretch.

skirt_3   skirt_6

Now since the skirt design I am making will have a split up the leg I cut up my circle skirt (all the way to the center) make sure that the cut is perpendicular to the edges of the circle and not just randomly across the fabric... and then you want to curve the edge of the fabric so that you do not have an ugly right angle (it would also be very difficult to sew the crinoline onto a right angle)


The next stage is to attach the skirt to the waistband. I find the easiest way to do this is mark half and quarter positions on the waistband and the skirt and then (taking into account a gap for the slit) line up the quarter and halfway marks and pin the 2 fabrics right side to right side - with the waistband being doubled just pick a side to be the outside.


Then into the serger! You could sew this with a normal machine however you need a secure seam that would be able to handle stretch so the serger is sooo much easier (it also trims the edge as well so you get a very neat seam out at the end) Be careful not to trim too much off the edge of the fabric otherwise you could increase the waist of the skirt quite a large amount.
skirt_10    skirt_11

Well that is the main construction of the skirt, but you will see that it doesn't exactly look marvelous when worn as the fabric just hangs straight down... but we'll make sure that is rectified in a minute. As a note I would probably make the skirt pattern a little longer the next time I made it.


So now adding the crinoline... I tried this out first with a small off cut of crinoline and fabric just to make sure I didn't ruin the skirt...

I attached the crinoline to the fabric using the serger (make sure to disable/remove the cutting blade!) and putting the fabrics 'right side' to right side. There is different advice about tensioning the crinoline, some say tension the fabric, I wouldn't probably advise not to really tension either of them. Just try to make sure they aren't pulling through unevenly. You might need to experiment a bit with how your sewing machine handles though.

Once the crinoline is attached try to remove the zigzag stitching that was sewn through the crinoline earlier on. Easy to do if you put a different colour thread in it. 

skirt_16   skirt_17

Then to secure the seam I would top stitch (either zig zag or double needle) along the edge by the crinoline. You can see I tensioned the fabric a little too much and you get a bump next to the crinoline. Not noticeable from a distance but best avoided.


Now what does that look like on the actual skirt...?

It was a little more difficult as I was dealing with over 4m of crinoline. I found it easiest to have the crinoline over my shoulder and feed it down to the serger. It may look a little weird but some of the best techniques do...


The only problem I had was with the very ends of the crinoline... Since they are not overlapping into any other crinoline it is a bit difficult to attach the ends and I have issues with the ends fraying/unraveling. I still haven't really solved this problem but I have tried to sew them in quite tightly and cover the ends with fabric so they don't spike you... But it's not exactly ideal. 


But I am sooo happy with how this turned out. It really looks like something I would see on the dancefloor and it really didn't actually take that long to make. Less than an evening in total.

Now you can see how the crinoline has transformed the fabric from just hanging off of the waistband to an lovely wavy body of skirt!

skirt_32 skirt_28

Hopefully this will help anyone else wanting to make a cheap but very effect skirt!


Thursday, 28 August 2014

It's been a while...

Well I didn't realise it had been so long since I last posted. The time has really flown by recently. 
I've been busy with lots of things at work and at home including repainting my lounge, learning to drive and taking over as the President of the Ballroom and Latin dance society at university. 

But it should give me lots of things to write about in a bit. As a bit of a teaser of some of the things to come here is a photo for the in-progress lounge redecoration. Lots of lovely coloured paints!

Lots of paints!

And after putting it off for years and years I finally got around to actually learning to drive and passing my test (first time thankfully!) So now I have so much more freedom to go places and the ability to transport things around! I can't wait to be able to get things from DIY stores to my house without having to get things online and get them delivered. 

Time for freedom!
I am actually a little bit ridiculously excited about getting a car and being able to put things in it. =) I have a few ideas for crafting projects for my car as well which should be exciting.

Will hopefully get more some things posted up here soon, unfortunately the tablet app for Blogger is less than wonderful so I have to use a desktop, but I will just have to set aside some time.


Monday, 5 May 2014

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Charity Shop Treasures

So Pippa and I have a bit of love for charity shops and we are always trying to find a bargain in them so I thought I'd show some of the things that we have picked up in charity shops recently. I'm sure there will be more along soon...


Red wool jumper:
I picked this up from a charity shop in Portswood, I actually really like the colour of it, it brightens up an outfit.

The boots were also from charity only £10, I absolutely love them I've worn them so much recently. 


White wool Jumper (Totnes):
This jumper I actually found in a charity shop in totnes, it feels soooo comfortable, although I'm not too keen on the white colour, I find it doesn't actually go with many of my other clothes, so I might dye it if I get round to dyeing some other items.

Picnic Hamper (new forest)
We absolutely love wicker basket and picnic baskets so we have been keeping an eye out for one for a while. We came across this basket in a charity shop in the new forest (it was empty when we got it for £10) but we have tried to get some crockery etc to fill it, although it isn't finished yet.

But then we came across this one in another charity shop in portswood, so we decided to get it as well... I sense lots of picnics coming up. Also this goes really well with a blanket I had picked up previously (with a picnic basket in mind)


Dressform from totnes
My new addition to my sewing room! =) A new adjustable dress form. This will be so much more useful than my old one. Now hopefully I will have enough time to use it. I have a few projects lined up which this will be extremely useful for! In fact you will be seeing it in a project very soon!
Dressform - found in totnes


Tuesday, 29 April 2014


Well it is coming up to Me May May challenge time and I have yet to officially sign up, so here goes.

I Pippa, pledge to wear at least one me made item each day in may. And try to keep the rest of my rtw to items bought from charity shops of handed up/down to me.  I will attempt to photograph each outfit to document my progress in this challenge.

(Ok so that might not be the exact Me Made May pledge but I have writen it out from memory as I am currently on a train - where I seem to get a lot of my blog post writing done lately - to weymouth to join the pelican again as a last minute fill in for one of their watch leaders.

This means that the start of my MMM-14 could be interesting, and the reason I have only listed one item each day, although I will try for more if possible.

Friday, 25 April 2014

Spring Cleaning: Blog Feeds

Since the demise of google reader I have to admit I have been useless at following blogs, and even more useless at commenting on things that have interested me. I used to love the button that reader gave you that could be put in the bookmarks bar and you could see the next unread post in its natural environment (I make it sound like some endangered animal!). But I going to each new blog post on its own blog with only the click of one button.

Recently I have got to grips with all of my unread backlog of posts (OK thats a lie, but all the recent unread ones...) using Feedly. I do have a BlogLovin account but never really clicked with it. 

I mostly use the android feedly app but sometimes use it in the web browser which is easier when I want to edit the blogs I follow. The app is brilliant for catching up on blogs in those inbetween times when I have my tablet with me.

I like the way I can categorise my blogs into my own headings on Feedly. I can then review the unread posts by category or my whole feed, I can save/mark the posts to view later which I have been doing with any I want to participate with or which are good tutorials. You can also see the post on its own website with the click of one button within the app.

The only real downside to it I found when getting started was that I imported all my blogs I followed in one go and the Android app doesn't give you an option to move a blog you already follow to a category, only new follows. But after much annoyance at this I logged into the webpage and could do it all there very easily.

Recently I have transfered over a number of blogs I folowed on blogger but never checked, to feedly, removing some of the ones that are no longer updated, or the ones that no longer really intereeted me. Making my feed a lot more interesting. Seeing some of those blogs again is like coming back to old friends, its amazing how much and how little can change in 1-2 years. Lots more babies on my blog feeds now...

My blog feed feels a lot cleaner now, and more functional. I just need to amalgamate the feeds from accidentally creating two accounts and I will have finished spring cleaning my rss feeds.
What spring cleaning are you doing to your blog stuff? Do you regularly clean out your feeds or do you let it get the better of you and change it all in one go?
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