Sunday, 10 December 2017

A British Outfit: DIY Hook and Eyes

Hello all, for this post I'm going to hand you straight over to Zoe!

Hello! My name is Zoe and I’m one of Lauren’s classmates. I’ve known Lauren for 3 years now as we started our time at Rose Bruford together. Hopefully you’ve all been keeping up with Lauren’s ‘A British Outfit’ series as this is what this post is all about!
The silver hook and eyes on top were made by Zoe and the bottom hooks and eyes were the reference point

At the end of our course, as you may know, we are required to do a dissertation style project which can be practical. The variety of things that have been chosen to be researched this year has been fascinating but Lauren’s research area has particularly interested me. It’s a concept that’s never crossed my mind before but has been a fascinating process to watch! As a result I have naturally offered my services for anything she may possibly need. One of the biggest challenges I’ve seen come up so far has been acquiring things that are now completely made overseas.

One day I walked into our workroom to find Lauren and one of our lecturers slaving away with some pliers and a great deal of frustration over the topic of making hooks and eyes for one of Lauren’s garments. After watching for a while, I and another classmate sat watching quite intently with a burning desire to give it a go. After around half an hour of sore fingers and mild swearing, I added my attempts to the pile for elimination once everyone had produced their finest work.
My attempts at making hooks and eyes
Unsurprisingly, from every angle the pile of our finest work looked incredibly sad. None of us were expert metal workers or mass producing machines. After having a long hard look at all of the attempts, the final decision was made and my hooks and eyes were the most normal looking. One of our other colleagues described mine selection as ‘the ugly ones from a regular box’ which was quite bittersweet and very funny.

Anyway, Lauren figured you would love to know how I did it! One thing to remember before going into this project is that your hooks and eyes won’t be perfect. You aren’t a machine. Each one will be unique but that’s part of the beauty.

This is what you will need!
Wire (British/country of choice). One metre should be enough for practices and then the real deal. Ormiston wire very kindly send me a sample to play with.
Tiny pliers! The main pair of pliers that we used were borrowed from someone who got them from a Christmas cracker.
Hooks and eyes for reference
Second pair of small pliers (optional) I’ve put a second pair of pliers as optional because at some points when I was trying to even out what I’d made, it was easiest to hold the fastening with one pair and bend with the other.


To make the hooks
Step 1. Make a guide.
To make the hooks and eyes around the size of a standard box, I made the guide around 2cm with a third mark at 2.5cm long. Remember this is a rough guide! The picture below doesn’t have the third guide mark, at the time I just guessed.

Step 2. Holding the wire
Pick up the end of your wire with your pliers. To get the best shape here don’t let the wire pop out the other side of the pliers. If you can start the end of the wire in the middle of the pliers jaws.

Step 3. Making the loops
What you need to do here is curl the wire as tightly as possible around the jaws of the pliers. This will give you a tight loop that you will use to see the hooks and eyes down with. Once you’ve made the first loop, hover the wire over your guide and cut the wire at the 2.5cm mark. After this repeat step 3 to make the second loop on the other side. Your curled wire should sit roughly within the 2cm guide nicely. Unless it’s quite a lot out this isn’t a big issue if it doesn’t fit. You may need to tighten the loops you make by using the pliers to push the loops into the long bits of wire This is what mine looked like after tightening the loops.

Step 4. Creating the point
At this point, it’s time to create the point that will make the hook. Roughly find the middle of the wire and bend the two ends together creating, what I’ll admit looks like quite a phallic shape. The closer in length the two ends are to each other the better.

 Use the pliers to make the point as tight as possible without creating a sharp point. The two loops may start to cross over and if this happens use your fingers to lightly pull them away from each other enough so that they sit close together but don’t overlap.


Step 5. Creating the hook
This is the final step! Find the rough middle of the point you’ve created and bend it towards the loops creating the hook. If the hook is at an obtuse angle, use the pliers on the point end and press to close the gap enough so that it would work as a functioning fastening. And there you have your own hand made hook!


To make the eyes
Step 1. Cut the wire
Go back to the guide we made for the hooks. Cut a piece of wire to be around 2cm long using the guide.

Step 2. Making the loops
Just like for the hooks, hold the end of the wire in the middle of the pliers jaws. As tightly as possible bend the wire around the pliers creating a loop. Repeat this on the other side of the the wire and then nip the ends of the loops to tighten them up.

Step 3. Making the eye
This bit is the hardest bit. Start by putting the middle of the wire in the jaws of the pliers and lightly bending. Move the wire slightly to one side and lightly bend. Repeat this on both side until you have a gradual curve over the eye. Once you’re able to get the loops into the jaws of the fliers both together this step is complete.

Step 4. Finishing the eye
Once the gradual curve has been made, use the pliers to tighten the bottom by pushing the loops together. They don’t need to be tightened up a large amount, just to your personal preference using the premade eye as a reference. And there you have your hook and eye! Good luck with making your own hooks and eyes and hope this was helpful!
DIY hook and eyes on top and reference hook and eyes below
Thank you for reading, and huge thanks to Zoe for putting this tutorial together!
Lauren xx

Saturday, 2 December 2017

A British Outfit: Eco-printing silk

Hello all! Today I'm going to share what I've learnt about eco-printing. Eco-printing is the process of wrapping up assorted plant matter around fabric and steaming or simmering it to extract a print. My British-made silk was sourced from Botanical Inks, and I chose the Habotai which I thought was most appropriate for lingerie.
First I mordanted my silk with alum (which I found a UK source for here) and I soaked another strip of silk with iron water to work as an iron blanket which should intensify and darken the colours in the print.
Next it was time to collect the various plant matter, and I did this by walking around the roadside with a massive metal bucket and some snippers. At the end of my expedition I had poppies, dandelions, elderberries, hollyhocks, Queen Anne's lace and hawthorn berries. I scattered these on my wet silk and placed the iron blanket on top. This was then rolled around a stick and tied tightly with string.
Then my bundle was simmered in a pot for 2 hours and let in the pot overnight. You can see how much darker it went overnight! The bottom image of the collage below is the bundle unrolled with all of the plant matter still on it.
Below are the results! The lighter strip of fabric on the top is the silk I'm going to use for my bra and the strip on the bottom is the iron blanket, and you can see how the iron in it has made the colours much darker. The prints weren't as defined as I had hoped for and the berries definitely provided most of the colour. The poppies left no trace at all. If you look closely at the left hand side of the top strip of fabric there's a beautiful amount of definition, and you can even see the imprints of the string. That was the portion of the silk that was on the outside of the bundle. I asked the Printing Botanicals facebook group what they thought of my results and the advice was to bundle tighter, to steam and not to simmer, and to look to leaves for crisper prints. It's sad that I don't have time to experiment further with eco-printing but now it's time to get on with making the bra! I'd love to come back to this technique in the future and really have fun with trying out different leaves and seeing how well they print.
Thanks very much for reading and to Lesley for providing me with all of her dyeing equipment and knowledge to use!
Lauren xx

Monday, 27 November 2017

A British Outfit: Fitting the bra

Hello all! Today I'm going to share the fitting process for the bra portion of my British Outfit. In the last post I discussed the designing and drafting process, and finished with the first calico toile. I had tacked in where I wanted the design lines to be (as you can see below) but did not cut them as separate pieces, because I wanted to get the basic fit right first. In the first fitting I shortened the straps by 3", lengthened the CB by 1/2" on either side and lowered the CF by 2". The excess at each SF was pinned out in a dart.
I found that when I transferred that dart straight to the pattern piece, it warped it too much, so I divided the amount that needed to go and split it evenly on the pattern piece. I then ended up changing the design lines slightly (10 points if you can spot where!) and cut down those lines to divide the pattern into upper cup and lower cup pieces.
In the second fitting there was still some excess in the right cup, so I adjusted the pattern in the same way I did for the first fitting. After looking back at the fitting photos (above) I decided to use the pattern pieces for the right cup for both cups in the next fitting, because the shape of the left one looks a bit off. Below you can see the difference in the pattern pieces for each side. I ended up using the pattern piece on the right for both cups of the bra.
 For the third fitting I decided to use a drapier fabric that was more like the silk that is my final fabric. No changes were made in this fitting as I was happy with the fit.
Below are the final pattern pieces ready to cut out of the main fabric.
So that was the fitting process for my bra! In the next instalment of this series I'm going to discuss my experiments with bundle dyeing.
Until then, thanks for reading!
Lauren xx

Sunday, 19 November 2017

A British Outfit: Designing and drafting the bra

Hello all! I have something a bit different for you today. In the final year of uni I have to do an independent research project, and luckily for me I had the option to choose a practical topic. Very much inspired by Nicki's One Year One Outfit project I aim to find out how feasible it is to create an outfit of clothing that has been made exclusively from British materials. I then want to see how well each garment bears up to every day use and to see how much it would actually cost to sell these garments to the public. Included in this outfit is a bra, pants (or knickers to those under the pond), shirt, trousers, jumper and shoes. I thought it would be fun to blog about the process as I go, so let me tell you all how I got to this bra muslin that you can see below.
If you take a look at modern underwear almost every component is unsuitable for this challenge. Stretch fabrics contain elastane (or lycra) which is a synthetic (or unnatural) fibre. Elastic itself is used to hold the fabric snug against the body. Metal or plastic rings hold the straps in place and metal hook and eyes fasten the bra at the back. I decided to look back in time, right up to the beginning of the evolution of the bra in the 1920s and 30s. The unfortunate thing is that by the 30s elastic had been invented and so was still instrumental in keeping the bra snug against the body, as illustrated by this bra here. However the earliest bras made in the 20s were not made to fit close to the body, but instead just to cover the chest area. This one I found fastens with hook and eyes at the back. I also found contemporary bras made by Cara Marie Piazza of Calyx intimates which are made from naturally dyed silk. This bra from her collection and this 1930s bra were my main inspiration for the designs below, but if you want to see the myriad of vintage bras and sewing patterns I looked at they can all be seen on my pinterest board dedicated to the topic here.
I drafted a bra using the basic bra pattern given in Michael Rohr's Pattern Drafting and Grading which was published in 1961. The lines were simple, it was drafted for non-stretch fabrics and it would be easy to adapt into the design that I wanted. First I had to draft a bodice block to fit my measurements before then using that to draft the bra pattern. I used the bodice block that came with the book, but then had to take a whopping 8 inches out of the bust so it would fit my body. I then decided that it would be a good idea to muslin the bodice up quickly, get it to fit like a glove, and then draft the bra onto it.
Because I'd adjusted the bust to co-ordinate with my own measurements the bodice fit pretty well. The darts were perhaps a little high, but it was decided to leave them as is and see what would happen in the bra fitting.
This meant that I was then good to go with the bra drafting. I stopped at step number three before elastic was added in at step number four. I made the cup a princess seam by cutting down the dotted line between A and C on the pattern pieces and left the back intact.


Michael Rohr's Pattern Drafting and Grading, published in 1961
 The next step was then to trace off the pattern pieces, cut them out in calico and sew them up, ready for a fitting. You may note that the design of the bra below is completely different from my original designs, but it was nice to have a very fluid process and important not to set everything in stone. In the next instalment of this series, I'll share the fitting process. I hope you enjoyed this slightly different content from me. I'm certainly enjoying the challenge that this project brings.
Thanks for reading!
Lauren xx

Friday, 17 November 2017

Cosy Jumper

Hello all! For this months Minerva Make I decided that I needed something to combat the impending cold and this Atelier Brunette French Terry fit the bill perfectly. I aimed to make the perfect layering piece. You can read all about the making process on the Minerva Crafts blog here.
 Thanks to Minerva Crafts for the materials for this project and to Zoe for the pictures,
Lauren xx

Saturday, 21 October 2017

A new silhouette

Hello all! The fabric for my latest Minerva make has had many incarnations in my head, and you get to see the version that made it all the way to the finish line. I've been working on my princess seam bodice block and combining it with a pencil skirt to make a dress pattern. The original next step was to swing out the skirt pieces to make a full skirt for this dress, but I was curious to try out this new silhouette to me so I left the new dress blocks as they were. You can read all about the making process on the Minerva Crafts blog here.
Thanks very much for reading, to Minerva Crafts for providing the materials for this project and to Grace for taking the pictures!
Lauren xx

Friday, 6 October 2017

Checked Shirt

Hello all!  My third and final year of uni has started in full force ( I'm 3 weeks into making for the first show of the season) but this is one of the things I made to wear on my trip to Amsterdam before summer holidays had finished.
My wardrobe plan for Amsterdam was all about the layers. Jeans, plus a tank top, then a shirt, jumper and coat to be added or taken off when appropriate. This worked really well. The fabric I think is some kind of cotton blend that I bought in Birmingham with Ben last winter. The original plan was to make it into a dress but it's going to be worn a thousand times more as a shirt.
I used the men's shirt pattern that I drafted for uni last year and that I used for the white linen shirt I made a few months ago. This time I made the yoke a little longer and added seam allowance to the collar so it's much more in proportion. The only thing I'd change now is to widen the cuffs a bit.
I paid particular attention to the pattern matching across the centre front, side seams and sleeve seams. Miraculously the collar actually matches the yoke, with no particular planning. The only change I'd make at the cutting out stage would be to centre the check at the pleat on the back piece. It looks a little off here.
I did the proper plackets this time, and I'm slowly getting to grips with the technique. It really helps to have a ready to wear shirt in front of me so I can see what I'm aiming for. The placket could do with being a bit shorter, and so could the sleeve.
My biggest mistake with this shirt was to flatfell the seams on the left hand side of the shirt on the outside and the seams on the right hand side on the inside! At this point in the game it was too late to change it, and probably only people who sew will notice, but I know that I could have had a neater finish had both the sleeve seams been flatfelled on the inside. The hem didn't particularly like being folded over twice and topstitched and I wish that I had bias bound it.
Despite all of this, I love this shirt and will never take it off.
Thanks very much for reading and to Bethan for taking the photos!
Lauren xx

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Ginger Jeans

Hello all, I've found myself wearing jeans more and more lately and so I wanted to expand my very limited collection. I used the Closet Case Files Ginger jeans pattern as a base. I always have my eyes peeled for good denim but I find it in the weight, colour and stretch I want quite hard to find. Luckily Minerva Crafts was there to save the day. I normally prefer lighter denim and I did consider bleaching this one when it arrived, but the darker denim is growing on me. You can read all about the making process here.https://www.minervacrafts.com/blogger-network/post/ginger-jeans-2
Lauren xx

Friday, 8 September 2017

Floral Tank Refashion

Hello all! Today's make is a refashion of a top I made all the way back in 2013. It was supposed to be a 5 minute jobby but turned into a one day saga. The neckline on the old top was too high which meant that it didn't get much wear and I decided that it was time to give it a makeover for my upcoming solo trip to Amsterdam next week (argghh!)  
I originally put the top on my dress form, pinned where I wanted the new neckline and straps to be, but that ended up just being a bit of a disaster. So then I went to my trusty pattern stash and dug up Simplicity 5461 (the dress pattern not the bear pattern) and used the tank pieces as a guide for a new neckline and armholes. After I cut the new neckline and armholes I realised that the neckline was far too low, revealing pretty much everything that shouldn't be revealed. I had 2 options: throwing it into the corner of the room and never speaking to it again, or just sticking back on the bit of the neckline that I had just cut off.
I went with option 2 because without it my Amsterdam capsule wardrobe would be nothing. So, off to the ironing board I went, butted the bit of the neckline that I had just cut off to the top with some interfacing underneath and ironed it into place. Then I was just left with some raw edges to hide. After a rummage around my ribbon drawers I found this vintage lace trim which I think was handworked by one of my Mums friends Mothers. It was a perfect accent to a pretty simple top.
I could have left the trim on just the front of the top, but the shoulders were a bit wide so I used the trim across the shoulders to keep them in place, crossing them at the centre back. The back neckline I kept the same as the original low neckline so you can imagine where that would sit on my front. The side seams were already French seamed and the hem turned up twice which saved me some time. The only finishing I had to do was silk bias binding around the neckline and armholes. It ended up pretty short due to all of the chopping, but it's a perfect length with these jeans. I'm sad that summer is over so I can't wear it as much as it deserves.
Thanks very much for reading and to Ed for the photos!
Lauren xx

Friday, 1 September 2017

Summer ball dress 2017

 Hello all! I've finally managed to get some pictures of my Summer Ball dress so let me tell you its story. I'll paint a picture for you: It's the end of the university year. Money has trickled out of the bank account until mere drops remain. There is no budget for fabric. There is no budget for alcohol. In these sad times one must make do and mend. I had two options. Option 1 was to make some kind of dress with the floral scuba I made my bikini from. Option 2 was to whack a bodice onto my gathered silver circle skirt, made a few months ago. I decided that now was the time to go big and have some fun.
I was told in no uncertain terms that top-to-toe silver would be too much, and turn me into the tin man from Wizard of Oz. In fact, this turned out to be quite a popular opinion. But, I had a vision and I was determined to see it through.
 In terms of construction for the midriff panel I used the pattern piece from Wearing History's Dahlia top pattern and I started off with 2 long triangles for the bust covering pieces. I first slipstitched the bottom of the midriff panel to the bottom of the existing skirt waistband. Then I put on the skirt, pinned the tops of the 2 triangles together to form a halterneck and tucked the ends of the 2 triangles into the skirt. My dear friend Bethan then plonked in the safety pins to determine the neckline, sidelines and attaching the bust bits to the midriff panel. Next I detached the bust bits, made the adjustments, lined them with some black chiffon I had lying around and sewed them onto the midriff panel.
Since the skirt was already finished, the bodice part really didn't take very long, although I would have really struggled with the fit without Bethan's help (Thank you Bethan!) It's certainly not a quiet piece of clothing, but then I'm not a very quiet person so perhaps we match each other quite well. The full skirt in particular was very good for the pimms induced dancing.
Thanks for reading and to Ed for taking pictures!
Lauren xx

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Floral scuba Sophie bikini

Hello all! Today I'm going to share this years Sophie bikini with you. You can see last years here and this year I even managed to replace the pint sized paddling pool with the real deal! My friend thought I was braving the 7 hour Megabus to Wales for her but it was actually for those sweet sweet seaside pics.
This year I actually managed to acquire some foam (for the princely sum of £12.50 for half a metre) which was very painful to hand over the money for at the till seeing as I only needed 10cm worth. Let's say it's an investment for my next 10 years of bra/swimwear making. I also bought proper rubber elastic for the first time. Of course I failed to purchase enough, so had to make do with clear elastic for the rest. I only remembered about swimsuit clasps when I got home, so I stole this one from last years bikini.
 The pattern for the bikini bottoms was my standard pants pattern which was originally copied from one of my existing pairs of pants. Now I attempted to account for the fact that I was making these in scuba by adding 1cm to the waistline WHICH WAS NOT ENOUGH. Hence the added panel at the top. According to my Mother they look a bit tight, and as per, she is right. Probably should have sized up all over. They aren't circulation-cutting-off-tight though so perfectly wearable.
 In terms of the bikini top I had a few issues. Mostly because I'm an idiot and used the pattern pieces I had when testing the pattern before they were altered for the final version. I made a couple of  test versions of different cup sizes in the foam to double check sizes before committing to the fabric. I had SO much fun butting the edges of the foam together and zigzagging. Talking of fabric, I used scuba because it's what I had. I couldn't find any existing Sophie's made from scuba but it has been used by various people for underwear so I decided that was enough to go ahead. I ended up going up 3 cup sizes mainly because the foam lessens the stretch (I think?), pinched a bit of the gaping at the top cup out, recut and took some width out of the bridge to get what you see before you today.
Said Welsh friend received a very up close and person video call to help me assess all aspects of fit. (Cheers MK.) Although it took a bit of trial and error to get it just right I'm pretty happy with what I've ended up with. It survived an (admittedly short) session of snorkelling, and what more can you ask of a swimsuit? The bridge doesn't lay flat but I'm not sure if that's because I didn't put wires in or if my boobs aren't big enough or if the fit is just wrong? Or maybe all 3. Anyway, it's the nicest bikini I've ever owned.
Thanks very much for reading and to MK and Paul for the photos,
Lauren xx