Thursday, 23 March 2017

My Headbands

If you've been following my blog or Facebook page you will have noticed headbands feature quite heavily in my wardrobe, they are one of the few designs I consider almost "perfected" and when I start to sell my work in the future (when I actually have time) they will be the first to go on sale. As a former toy maker, working on smaller, more intricate designs is actually more my comfort zone compared to larger works (which is the opposite of what most people have told me).

The idea to make my own headbands came from two situations, the first being when my daughter found a headband that had glued on flowers and leaves (like the standard ones you find in store) and absolutely trashed it, the flowers were too easy to pull off. The second was when I ordered a beautiful handmade headband off one of my favourite fashion designers only to find that again, every time my daughter got her hands near it, a flower would come off! I also noticed that headbands mounted on a hard base hurt my head and squished my glasses against my face. This ended up with me just not wearing pretty headbands. I decided that if I couldn't buy the perfect headbands, I'd just make them!

The first aspect of these is that they had to be mounted on a stretchy fabric "sweatband" type of headband, no hard bases. The second is that everything must be sewn on with a strong sturdy stitch, no glue and thirdly, they must be machine washable as everything just gets dirty in my household . The result? I now have a collection of headbands that match every outfit and my daughter can pinch and play with without damaging them! (just one less reason to screech "AMY NO!"). At the moment I am making them out of whatever felt I have leftover from my toy making days (which includes a mixture of polyester, acrylic and wool). The polyester and acrylic fabrics hold their shape better and don't warp as easily, but in the future I would like all my products to be as natural as possible, which means using the wool blend. I will have to trail the wool some more and see if that's actually the direction I wish to go in.

The first headband I made was my beloved cherry blossom one, I got the inspiration whilst driving past the trees that were in bloom. I was still pregnant with Jasper and too fat and awkward to waddle around larger garments, so simple headbands where I could just sit at my desk were perfect. The flowers are just two layers cut out of two shades of pink. The tricky part is the stitched detailing, which is also what holds the flower to the headband. The center of the flower is a small button as I thought that a satin stitched circle would be to difficult on such a small scale. There are six flowers going all the way around the band, meaning there is no "wrong" way to wear it, the only problem is that you lose some of the stretch from the stitching, so six is the maximum you can have. I've made this headband twice (one for me and one for my best friend) but if I were to make it again I would probably make the flowers smaller and make more of them, since actual cherry blossom flowers aren't that large I don't     think people actually identify that that's what they are.

The next headband I made was my sunflower. I made this specifically to match my Interrobang skirt. This one is actually really simple and easy, it just involved lots of cutting as there is three layers of petals. Each layer is sewn onto the headband on it's own and then the center of the flower is satin stitched on top. I laughed when I fist tried it on as I didn't realise how big I had made it! But it turned out the be a good thing as it really does look amazing! I always get stopped and complimented when I'm wearing it out and about. Although my dad did say to be careful in case a bee lands on me (he thinks he's funny). This one is mounted on a $1 headband I bought from ebay, don't buy them! The are awful material, fall apart easily and are child sized (lucky I have a small head).

The best thing about making my own headbands is that I can match them to any outfit. I purchased a tie-dye purple and blue skirt and whipped up this butterfly headband to match the colours! This one I broke all the rules of "how to design stuff" and just fiddled around with cut out felt pieces. There's a few hidden stitches that I had to put in just to make it sit flat, but the bulk of the stitching is the horribly uneven satin stitched detailing. Apparently I'm the only one that thinks this as I still get plenty of compliments. It also goes very well with my TPF shrug.

My latest design has been a poppy for friends. This one was super easy but super effective! two layers of large petals with a large button for the center. The hardest part is hand sewing the button (not a fan of hand sewing) and getting the shapes of poppies odd leaves just right. My friend got four compliments in one shopping trip for her blue one. it makes me super happy when other people get complimented in my designs.

In conclusion, I absolutely love these, they are what really completes my look and brings it all together. I have been road testing them for six months now and they're still going strong (even when thrown in the wash on my regular cycle). I have no issues with my daughter pinching them and wearing them around (except for when she takes them to day-care and loses them). I wear them for hours at a time without getting uncomfortable or a headache. They are defiantly a winner!

This blog has been a "backtrack", all future headband posts will be as I make them and include "how to" instructions

Until next week!

Thursday, 16 March 2017

The Hanky Hem Saga Part 2

Two Layer Cherry Blossom Skirt
 After realizing that I had bitten off way more than I could chew with the 6 layer skirt, I went back to perfecting the two layer. This is the first skirt I am actually happy with. The second layer is short enough that is shows off the bottom one without looking ridiculous. I've worn it multiple times a week since making it and absolutely love it! The bottom layer is made from the standard poplin that I've been using but the top is pure cotton lawn, which I like much more than the broadcloth as it is super light and good for those intense Australian summer days. Unfortunately I had yet to fix the undie flash problem when I made this one, so it's still very awkward to wear on windy days. Ideally I'd like to make this a three layer skirt, but (other than the edging which I was deliberately lazy on as it's still a trial) this is the "perfect" two layer combo.

Three Layer Mermaid Skirt
This skirt has been my biggest challenge as it is the first time I have ever made something for someone who has a completely different body shape to me. it's actually quite fascinating to see how it almost looks like a different skirt. My friend has found while road testing that the shorter bits of the hanky hem pull up too high, and that even though it has three layers, the skirt to revealing in places. She has also said that due to the "puffiness" of the skirt, it appeared to accentuate her pear-shaped figure more than she'd like. She has also told me that she find the skirt too warm for summer, which is interesting as I have not experienced this myself. I will not be making another skirt like this for her as I think my newer design (blog coming soon) will be more suited. But I am definitely open to the idea (and the challenge) of tweaking my designs to make them sit as perfect as possible on as many different bodies as I can.

In conclusion, from all of these skirts I've made, a bottom non circle layer is needed to prevent the undie-flash in the wind. The edging either needs to be hemmed or edged with bias binding as the over locking look ruins it (although I am still new at using my over locker and haven't really done a good job). I have intended this to be a summer skirt, but am now starting to question if a multi-layered skirt is the right idea or if I should switch to heavier fabrics and make it an Autumn/Winter skirt. For now I am happy with the progress but will be stopping this design for the year. It has been a great skirt to "find my feet" in terms of making garments but I am getting bored and already have a new design lined up. I may continue with this saga in the future if I wish to but for now, my brain is bouncing with so many ideas that I want to give them a whirl. I if I do remake this, I will be trying it in bamboo, which is the fabric I envision it in.

I hope you all have enjoyed hearing about this process as much as I've enjoyed writing about it. It is good to have an outlet to write down what has and hasn't worked in terms of sewing. Next week I will be talking about my headbands! Hopefully this is my last "back track" post in terms of sewing (I started this project before the blog) and the rest of my garments I can talk about as I'm making them.

See you all soon!

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Saturday, 4 March 2017

The Hanky Hem Saga Part 1

Sewing clothes has always been a bit nerve wracking for me. For years I just sewed toys, dolls and home wear. The closest I have ever gotten to garments is hats, scarves and headbands. Many people have told me over the years that I should take my drawings and designs and make them, but I've always been to scared. You see clothes need to FIT, they need to be comfortable and they need to be able to withstand wear and tear. Dolls don't complain if their clothes are too tight, and they don't move around so the garments risk minimal damage. But I've decided to bite the bullet and force myself to start experimenting with sewing clothes, and so, I give you, the hanky hem saga!

Technically speaking, this is the easiest style of skirt you can make, once piece of fabric sewn onto a piece of elastic, and yet I have somehow made about six of these skirts and still haven't nutted out exactly how I want it. I've only been using a very cheap polyblend poplin fabric thus far, as I don't want to waste my money on expensive fabric while I don't know what I'm doing, so when reviewing my progress I need to take that into account.

The Vision: This skirt is the first I have designed to be Faery mum friendly. The uneven hanky hemline is what gives it the "pixie" look whilst still being a simple skirt (no appliqué or prints). The waistline is thick elastic to squish in the "mum tum" but also allowing me to wear it either on my waist or the hips. Ideally I'd like to make these skirts out of bamboo, but bamboo is VERY expensive per metre and out of my price range at the moment. I also have had limited time up until this point, and have knowingly cut corners ( a habit I will stop now that I am in more of a routine with the kids). I have a love for full circle skirts that I can "swish" in, this is why I have chosen this style.

These skirts have all been made using the MADE Everyday It tutorial (link at the end)

Woodland Faery Skir
The first skirt I made was using dark green and brown to match my new boots and leafy creation top. It was a frustrating time as I was 8 months pregnant and had no waistline to work with, yet I had the strong desire to create a wardrobe to come into once Jasper was born (it didn't happen, I only made the one skirt and the one headband) so I just wanted to get started. I fudged the waist measurement from another garment I had seen listed online, and luckily it fit once I had given birth. This skirt is two layers of fabric in two different colours, cut the same length, overlapped in alternating directions and sewn onto some belting elastic with the edges overlocked. For the most part I like it, but I didn't like that the bottom layer can barely be seen. I am very happy with the length (knee length) and the stitching on the waist has held up ok, but it definitely needed some work on the layering. It also has a "undies flash" problem whenever there is a strong gust of wind. Unfortunately I did not realise this until after I had made many more. This one has the perfect waistline on the elastic, I wish I had written it down.


Cherry Blossom Mini
This skirt was my first "disaster" as I had to salvage a huge mistake. Following the dislike for the layering in the Woodland Skirt, I decided to change around the layering, unfortunately, I cut it to much. Instead of a shorter layer that flowed nicely into the bottom layer, I cut the top layer to exactly half the length of the bottom, when I held it up together to sew, it looked AWFUL! But it was already cut, the result? make a mini skirt! So I cut the bottom layer to the same length as the top and sewed it all up. For awhile I thought I had successfully created a mini in this style... Until my husband
informed me that he could see my underwear from the back even when I wasn't bending over, fail. I still wear this skirt around the house, and when I'm out I wear bike shorts underneath. The next time I make a min, I will be sewing a layer of fabric underneath that is only a half circle as it is the only way to solve this problem. It is perfect for a day when you want to be as naked as socially acceptable.

Six Layer Cherry Blossom
The next project I took on was a gift for my best friend. Keep in mind, at this point my son was still a newborn and time was VERY limited with Christmas looming. I wanted to try again with the layering, this time I was very ambitious and wanted to go with six. This was far, far too ambitious. The poplin I usually use did not have the shade of light pink I wanted so I had to use a different fabric. I went with broadcloth, another mistake, as soon as I had pre washed the fabric and it dried, I realised it was way to stiff and heavy for the fluffy, flowing look that I wanted (it was meant to be a summer skirt). Layering this skirt so that each layer was visible was a headache and unfortunately, I cut them all with not enough difference in length. When all sewn up, you can hardly tell that there are six layers, all the extra layers do is add to the weight, they also make the skirt very hard to sit right as you have to adjust each layer after washing. Had I had more time I would have gone back and cut the layers more, but my deadline was up. My friend still loves her skirt, but agrees with me on the weight and says she will wear it in winter instead of summer. The weight does solve the undie flash problem, so that is a plus.

I will leave the saga here as this blog post is long enough (and I still have 3 more skirts to talk about) Stay tuned next week for the Hanky Hem Saga Part 2!

Circle skirt tutorial:

I just leave it as a square instead of cutting it into a circle and overlap.

Until next week!