Claiming Your Space

Hi chickadees and chickadudes!

I hope that this week has been treating you well. I’ve been poorly – explaining my brief disappearance from the site. It also means that the long awaited Joan dress is a little more delayed. Fortunately, it’s pretty much done and I should have pics for you soon!

A couple of weeks ago I answered some questions for the awesome sewing social site, The Fold Line (if you haven’t checked it out – you must. It is the home for my group of 20-something sewers and lots of other cool ways to connect with fellow sewers). The fabulous Kate and Rachel who run The Fold Line wanted some info on Sew for Victory to preview on the site. One particular thing they asked for was a picture of my sewing space. Well, it suddenly occurred to me that – as the creative centre for sewers of all levels – the sewing space is a hugely under-celebrated component of the whole sewing process.

I live in a tiny terraced house – about as narrow as a house comes. So creating a space specifically for my sewing was a challenge. Fortunately, a little creative furniture movement and a cool IKEA craft table left me with a perfect area for all of my sewing needs!

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Obviously the ability to develop a designated sewing space depends totally on what you’ve got available. But even if you’re making do with a corner of the dining room table, there are a few essential things that you can do to make sure that the space is your own:

  1. Get good storage for sewing supplies – My IKEA table has a couple of compartments in the legs that I use to store my patterns. But I use second-hand plastic boxes for everything else – mostly for my fabric stash. Just make sure that you’ve got easy access to everything you could need. There’s nothing worse than taking time out of sewing to hunt for your carbon paper/tracing wheel/thread etc.
  2. Sewing books/magazines – I’m always referring to my various instructional books when I need a bit of guidance. So having them on hand is a must. I also have a kindle station set up if I need to Youtube anything (or, more likely, watch Midsomer Murders while I sew).
  3. Inspiration – For me, this is probably the most important thing (other than a sewing machine, of course). I keep my vintage magazines nearby, plus a couple of quirky bits-and-pieces that always cheer me up. Whether it’s sewing-specific inspiration, or simply something to make you smile on a rainy day, it will totally amplify your sewing experience. Trust.

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Whatever you decide to do – and whatever you have to work with – your sewing space should be an area that you love to be. And an area where you feel as awesome as you are!

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Love you all x

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Making Your Mark

Happy Monday, loves!

I hope that you are all having a good start to the week. I’ve made good progress with my dress – the zip is in and the lining pieces are together. All that’s left is to attach the lining to the shell and get the hem done (plus maybe finish the seams, if I haven’t lost the will to go on by that point).

One thing that I’ve been thinking a lot about while making this pattern is methods of transferring markings to fabric. When I worked on the Belle Curve dress, the 30 + side darts meant that I had to take a hard look at the best way to move the process efficiently – and accurately – along. I’ve been through a variety of methods, with chalk pencils and tailor’s chalk seemingly the go-to for most sewers.

But after some discussions with fellow crafters, I decided to give the tracing wheel and carbon paper method a go. I haven’t looked back! It has now guided me through many a dart. I’ve been umming and ahhhing over whether posting on this topic would actually add any value to your lives. But remembering that I originally began this blog with the intention of talking through my progress with the basics of sewing – and hopefully helping out other beginners in the process – I decided that a brief explanation of how to transfer pattern markings might be in order. If you are already well versed in this, please bear with me!

  1. The first step is obviously to identify any markings that need to be transferred onto your fabric. There are the absolute necessities – darts and tucks being essential. However, also consider other markings that might help you in the process of sewing and fitting. I sometimes decide to transfer bustline/waistline/hipline markings, if I’m concerned about the shape and fit of the garment.
  2. Whip out your carbon paper and tracing wheel. I have a pack of yellow carbon paper, bought on Amazon I think. You can get packs containing multiple colours – obviously you want to be sure that you select a colour that will show up on your fabric. Fortunately, yellow shows up on pretty much every fabric colour that I use. Tracing wheels can be bought online and in sewing shops.DSCF1236
  3. Pop your carbon paper against the WRONG SIDE of your fabric. If you’ve cut out a pair of fabric pieces (or have cut on the fold of the fabric), you can insert the carbon paper between the two pieces of fabric. When you use the tracing wheel, it will transfer the markings onto the wrong side of both pieces. Quick and easy! Make sure that your pattern piece is well-secured onto the fabric, with pins or weights (basically, make sure that it can’t move around while you’re using your tracing wheel).
  4. Move the tracing wheel over the marking you want to transfer. I usually do this quite firmly and sometimes go over it a couple of times to make sure that the marking has taken to the fabric.DSCF1238
  5. And voila! All done.

This is by far the quickest and most accurate method I’ve used so far. The only method I’ve not tried is tailor’s tacks – this is one that I will definitely be trying in the near future, for that authentic vintage feel to the sewing process. Any tips are welcome!

What method do you use for transferring markings? I’m always open to advice on anything tried-and-tested!

Laura x

 

Inspire A Style: Gene Tierney

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I’m back in the UK and, while I work on finally making progress with my Joan dress, I thought I would stop in with another instalment of Inspire A Style. This time featuring Gene Tierney, one of my favourite 1940s starlets!

Who?

Gene Tierney was an American actress who starred in a number of films throughout the 1940s, and into the ’50s. Acclaimed as one of Hollywood’s greatest beauties, she acted alongside a number of the most famous stars of the time – Humphrey Bogart, Ginger Rogers, and Spencer Tracy among them. Perhaps her most acclaimed role was as Laura in the film of the same name.

Gene Tierney is also known for the ups-and-downs of her personal life. Suffering from depression and ill-health, Tierney contemplated suicide in 1957. Her journey to overcome her mental health problems – as well as the story of her career – are documented in the amazing autobiography Self Portrait (highly recommended!).

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Why?

Gene Tierney is the epitome of 1940s glamour. Hollywood starlets of the era obviously had access to some of the most glorious garments and stylists. Other than her effortless beauty, it is this style that makes Tierney such an inspiration for anyone who wants to replicate this vintage style.

In many respects, then, Gene Tierney’s position as a fashion role-model is not the product of her personal style. But it is rather a consequence of her fortunate place at the helm of Hollywood. However, she is far from a one-dimensional personality. I think that her personal battles dictated her approach to her career, and this is something that will always inevitably flow over into other areas of life – including, in my view, style. Whether as a representation of inner battles, or as a superficial cover for them, there is always a story. And Gene Tierney perhaps best represents this fact.

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What?

Gene Tierney represents a lot of what I love about 1940s glamour. There is a certain simplicity to many of her looks, a simplicity that separates this era from those that followed. Simple, well-constructed gowns were the order of the day, paired with pearls or diamonds. Throw in some gorgeous bright reds and deep greens and this is a style that pretty much anyone can replicate. Gene Tierney is also someone to look to in attempting to replicate 1940s hairstyles. Perfect curls!

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So where can a seamstress look for patterns to replicate the Gene Tierney look? My first recommendation would undoubtedly be Decades of Style’s Belle Curve dress – to me, this totally epitomises the 1940s style and works perfectly for communicating some Hollywood glamour. I sported my version over Christmas and received endless compliments!

There’s also the glorious Doris dress from Eliza M Vintage. Worn strapless, and paired with a set of pearls, it would be perfect. I’ve made up patterns from Eliza M before, and they are so well constructed and easy to follow. Definitely recommended!

Finally, get yourself a set of heated rollers, pop your hair into some soft curls, and you’ll be ready to go! Gene Tierney in the 21st century! And I’m sure, once in this look, you will find yourself closer to the courage and determination that characterises her story.

“Life is like a little message in a bottle, to be carried by the winds and the tides.”

Gene Tierney (1920-1991)